Tee To Green: Driscoll, Puleri to defend title at CC of Pittsfield's Men's Invitational

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Berkshire Hills Country Club member Randy Driscoll will find himself in a different role than in previous years when he tees it up on Friday along with teammate Jeff Puleri in the Country Club of Pittsfield's Men's Invitational.

After losing in the finals of the best-ball, match-play tournament four times in five years — the first three times with his father Bob, and the final time in 2014 with Puleri — he and Puleri captured the title with an impressive 5-and-4 victory over 13-time CC of Pittsfield club champion Matt Scarafoni and Pioneer Valley partner Chris Ferriter last June.

Not only did the 42-year-old end the jinx, he did it with a spectacular performance in the final on a windy weekend that wasn't exactly conducive to low scoring.

"Randy was a one-man wrecking crew," Puleri recalls. "He carried us through the final."

Driscoll shot a sizzling 4-under 31 on the front nine as he and his partner built a big lead. Puleri contributed key pars on 10 and 12 and a birdie on the par-4 11th hole as the Berkshire Hills duo closed out their foes on No. 15.

"That is probably the best tournament I have played," Driscoll said earlier this week. "I was lucky to have some putts drop and it helps that Jeff is always so steady."

It's no coincidence, according to Puleri, that his lifetime friend has had such success over the relatively tight par-71 layout.

"Pittsfield is a good course for him because he hits it so straight," Puleri said following last year's final round.

The tournament was plagued by bad weather, shortening the quarterfinal and semifinal matches to nine holes each. The red-hot Driscoll-Puleri team made them even shorter, making eight birdies in the 13 holes they needed to close out their foes.

"I'd had a lot of close calls, so it was very satisfying to finally get the win," Driscoll said. "My dad was able to come and watch us play, so that helped make it even more memorable."

Like most Berkshire County golfers, neither man has played much golf so far during this chilly and wet spring. But both should be tournament-ready after playing in this weekend's Stockbridge Trophy tournament at Stockbridge Golf Club. Driscoll and Stockbridge member Chris Shields are defending the title they won last year while Puleri is partnered with his brother, Rich.

"I've only played maybe three or four rounds, but I have been hitting it good," Driscoll said. "Playing this weekend should help me get ready."

Scarafoni and Ferriter will also be back for another crack at the title along with the Pioneer Valley team of Greg Fisk and Dave Laporte. Fisk and previous partner Bill Cunningham won the tournament three years in a row, serving as the personal roadblock for Driscoll prior to last year when Fisk and Laporte lost in the quarterfinals to young guns Chad Alibozek and Jake Matthews.

"I think the field is a little stronger that last year and I know we will have a bullseye on us," said Puleri, pointing to the team of Matt Ortega and John Dahrouge as a strong addition.

No doubt Driscoll is happy to assume the role of being the hunted given his previous finals frustration.

The tournament begins with 18 holes of medal-play qualifying on Friday to set the flights. The winner of the championship flight will end up playing four rounds in two days — weather permitting, of course.

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Waubeeka Golf Links will be hosting its second important event of the season on Wednesday when the Massachusetts Golf Association holds a qualifying tournament for this year's Massachusetts Amateur Championship.

A relatively small field of 31 golfers will be looking to advance to the big event at Charles River Country Club in Newton Centre in July. Three members of Berkshire County courses — Berkshire Hills' Kevin Quinto, Taconic Golf Club's Andy Polidoro and Wahconah Country Club's Paul Briggs — are in the field, along with several others with Berkshire County connections.

Quinto was last fall's All-Eagle MVP in his senior season at Pittsfield High School and Briggs has qualified for several Mass. Public Links Championships in qualifiers at Waubeeka.

Other golfers with local ties are Jim Patterson (The Orchards), who used to be a member of the Allied Association when he played out of Worthington Golf Club, and young Tommy Cothern, who attends school in Eastern Mass., but has spent most of his summers in the Berkshires. Patterson tied for seventh in last year's Public Links at Waubeeka.

If you are looking for a favorite, you can't go wrong with veteran amateur Andy Drohen (The Ranch). He has captured all three of the MGA's premier (pre-senior) events — the Mass. Amateur in 2003, the Mid-Amateur in 2004 and the Public Links in 2012. He tied for ninth in last year's Public Links.

According to the MGA, the top four finishers and ties will advance to July's tournament.

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Considering that this spring hasn't exactly produced ideal golf weather, perhaps it's a little early to be thinking fall, but there is good news surrounding the popular Berkshire County Senior Fall Series.

This year's series, which will kick off on August 23 at Worthington Golf Club, will return to Waubeeka after a year's absence from the Williamstown club. Waubeeka will host the ninth and final event on Wednesday, Oct. 18.

Over the years, Waubeeka had annually attracted fields of more than 100 seniors, so it's surely a plus for golfers that the series will return. Head professional Erik Tiele, who had annually hosted the series while the head pro at Worthington Golf Club, set as a priority getting the group back .

Other courses hosting the series for golfers 50-and-over this season will be Skyline Country Club, Egremont Country Club, Cranwell Spa and Golf Resort, Berkshire Hills Country Club, Greenock Country Club, GEAA and Wahconah Country Club.

More details to come after we actually experience a little summer weather!

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There is still time to enter the 34th annual Paul Dowd Jimmy Fund Classic, which is scheduled for Wednesday and will have 7:45 a.m. and 1 p.m. shotgun starts.

The tournament, which raises funds for the Dana Farber Cancer Institute, features a scramble format with a fee of $150 per player and $600 per team. That includes golf, breakfast for the morning flight, lunch for both flights, refreshments on the course, gift bags and an awards dinner at 6:30 pm.

There are also sponsorship opportunities with six levels available. Donations of gift certificates or prizes for the golf raffle are also welcomed.

The Berkshire Council is affiliated with the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston and the Jimmy Fund Golf Program. Last year the program's tournaments raised more than $7.2 million. All proceeds of the tournament benefit Dana-Farber for cancer research and treatment.

For further information or to enter, call Bob Tucker at 413-499-1099 or 413-441-9155.

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When a club hosts a Massachusetts Open qualifier, that club's head professional is given an exemption into the field in the Open itself. Thus, I wrongly assumed that Taconic Golf Club's Josh Hillman was headed to this week's big event at The Golf Club at Sacconnesset on Cape Cod.

Hillman has a bigger date he is focused on, so he has given his exemption to one of his assistants, Thomas Sennett. Hillman instead will work to get ready for the PGA National Club Pro Championship in Sunriver, Ore. on June 18-21.

The Berkshires will have two golfers in the national event, Hillman and Country Club of Pittsfield head pro Eric Mabee.

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Teams captained by Matt Gilardi (Blue Moon Division), Mickey Kruger (Miller Lite Division) and Sam Whiting (Coors Lite Division) took top honors in the 33rd annual Fraser Memorial Tournament last weekend at Skyline Country Club.

The most dramatic finish came in the Coors Lite Division, when Keith Eskusian birdied the par-3 seventh hole to give Whiting's team the win over the foursome captained by Dick Rivers.

Proceeds from the tournament go to fund scholarships — 350 have been awarded during the tournament's long run. This year, in appreciation of the many sponsors the event has had through the years, there was no charge for their hole sponsorship signs spread around the course.

See below for full results.


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LOCAL GOLF RESULTS

Fraser Memorial Tournament

At Skyline Country Club

Captain and Crew format

Blue Moon Division

1. Matt Gilardi, Joe Thornton, Bary Rand, Phil Heidel, 58-60 — 118. 2. Steve Wood, Tim Clark, Tim Dufur, Fran Giradina, 61-59 — 120. 3. Tucker Sheran, Brett Carpenter, Dan Harrington, Alex Garnier, 62-60 — 122.

Miller Lite Division

1. Mickey Kruger, Bob Powers, Chuck Kruger, Brian Tynan, 65-57 — 122. 3. Bill Fraser, Tom LoRicco, Kyle Delmolino, Mike Boggs, 64-62 — 126.

Coors Lite Division

1. Sam Whiting, Keith Eskusian, Wally Czabaj, Stan Chrostowski, 68-61 — 129. 2. Dick Rivers, Ron Pero, Dave Veins, Steve Rivers, 65-64 — 129. 3. Brian Stewart, Mike Phelps, Jim Canino, Shawn Malloy, 66-65 — 131. Winners captured title by winning seven-hole playoff.

Worthington Golf Club

Low gross

1. Dan Korpita, Jim Slaboda, Tom Strycharz, Hunter Budrewicz, 63. 2. Joe Mac, Greg Pease, Matt Canata, Kevin Atkin, 65. 3. Jeff Racz, John Ryan, Dan Matica, Fred Goerlach. 4. Jeff Racz, James Ryan, John Ryan, Steve Flint, 68.

Low net

1. Wally Fritz Jr,, Chuck Baker, Billy Spitzer, Scott Preston, 51. 2. Dick Pizani, Erik Pizani, Mark Pizani, Shaun Duquette. 3. Bill Varno, Kale Skroki, Nick Duda, Karl Mirke, 55. 4. Craig DeBlois Bruce Cardin, Dick Farnam, Derek Malcohm, 57.     

Skins                         

No. 15: Doug Reed, Jeremy Stachowicz, Paul Waite, Ed Figiela. No. 8: Joe Mac, Greg Pease, Matt Canata, Kevin Atkin. No. 3: Dan Korpita, Jim Slaboda, Tom Strycharz, Hunter Budrewicz.


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