Three Berkshire County golfers finish in top five at Stroke Play Championship
Scott Berliner's domination in Northeast New York PGA events continued on Wednesday at Taconic Country Club in Williamstown as he captured the section's Stroke Play Championship for the sixth consecutive year.
The Hiland Park Country Club (N.Y.) assistant professional shot a 1-over 72 to finish the 36-hole event at 1-over 143 for a three-shot victory over host head professional Josh Hillman (73-73) and John Neet (Golf Galaxy-Albany, N.Y.), who rallied with a tournament-best 68 after opening with a 78.
Though outnumbered by the New York pros, Berkshire County claimed three of the top five spots with Taconic teaching pro Peter Egarzian (76-73) and Country Club of Pittsfield head pro Eric Mabee (75-74) tying for fourth at 7-over 149.
Ian Breen (Colonie Golf and Country Club), tied for first with Berliner after the opening round, slumped to an 80 to finish ninth.
Berliner, who won the section's first event of the season and tied for first with Breen in the second, took home the first prize of $2,000 in one of the section's major championships.
Berliner played the front nine in even-par 35 with two birdies and a double bogey on the par-4 seventh hole. He was 1-over on the difficult back nine with one birdie and two bogeys.
"Back in 2007 and 2008, I won this tournament back-to-back and I thought that was good, but to win six times in a row is impressive," said Hillman, who was paired with Berliner on Wednesday. "He has no weaknesses in his game and is far and away the best player in our section."
Hillman started with a birdie on the par-5 first hole but hit a tough stretch between holes 5-8, playing those holes in 4-over. He rallied with a 1-under 35 on the back nine.
"I had a tough pitch on No. 5 and made a bogey and then I made my only bad swing of the tournament on No. 6, flaring one out-of-bounds to the right off the tee," said Hillman, who made a double bogey on the par-4 hole.
Still, the Williams College men's golf coach is happy with the progress he's making as he prepares to play in the Mass. Open at Worcester Country Club in a couple of weeks. Hillman earned an Open exemption by winning last fall's Berkshire County Pro Championship.
"The first two [section] events, I was focused on building up to this tournament and the Mass. Open," Hillman said. "I wanted to play well on my home course in front of the members and my staff. I didn't play my best, but I still did pretty well on a tough course and that's a positive sign."
Egarzian put himself in position to challenge for the runner-up spot by playing the first 13 holes in 2-under par but suffered bogeys on four of the final five holes. Mabee made nine pars on the front nine and was 1-over on the day before making bogeys on the final two holes.
Egremont Country Club pro Dave Strawn (77-76 — 153) ) tied for 10th to give the county five golfers in the top 10. Three other county pros were in the field -- Wyantenuck Country Club's Tom Sullivan (82-77 — 159), Stockbridge Golf Club's Steve Mazzariello (80-80 —160) and Cranwell Spa and Golf Resort's Chris Polidoro (86-79 — 165).