Paul Antonelli/Recorder staff Amsterdam High School golfer Kevin Ottati tees off on the third hole at the Amsterdam Municipal Golf Course on Tuesday. Shown in background are his teammates Corey Tambasco, left, and Jon LaBahn.
Paul Antonelli/Recorder staff Amsterdam High School golfer Christopher Panasiuk chips to the second green at the Amsterdam Municipal Golf Course on Tuesday.
Paul Antonelli/Recorder staff Amsterdam sophomore golfer James Phelps sinks a putt on the second hole Tuesday at Amsterdam Municipal Golf Course on Tuesday.
By PAUL ANTONELLI
Amsterdam golfer James Phelps made an immediate impact last season in the Big 10, shooting low score after low score as a freshman -- including a season-low 35 at Schenectady's Stadium Golf Course. Now, a sophomore, Phelps has high hopes again as he leads a squad into its inaugural season in the Foothills Council.
He's the team's top player and already a leader on a team that is sprinkled with youth, including seventh grader Erin Rivera. The pair played together during a practice round Tuesday at the Amsterdam Municipal Golf Course.
"He (Phelps) teaches me so much," said Rivera. "He makes me learn from my mistakes. He not only makes me a better player, but also every player on this team."
Phelps headlines a talented roster that includes the entire starting roster from last year's squad that placed third behind CBA and LaSalle in the Big 10. Amsterdam head coach Tim Jones will carry a roster of 12 players this fall, with eight competing in each Foothills Council match. The lowest four scores will count toward the match.
"We're looking forward to the move to the Foothills," Phelps said. "The competition is better and courses are nicer."
Phelps spent the winter working on his game at Turning Stone Casino and fared well on the Northeastern New York Junior PGA Tour, where he turned in multiple top-five finishes.
"I've been having the best rounds of my life of late. I'm getting a lot more distance off the tee and I'm a lot straighter," said Phelps, who averages 240-260 yards off the tee.
Jones, now in his second year as coach, is excited with Phelps anchoring the team.
"James is always working on his game," Jones said. "He's always looking to get better. We have a pretty solid squad and we should do well."
Others expected to make major contribution are seniors Marc LaBahn, Kevin Ottati and Corey Tambasco and juniors Jon LaBahn and Andy Majed.
"We will be competitive because we got our Tiger Woods (Phelps) out there," said Ottati. "We'll be tough to beat."
Tambasco is just as confident.
"We're hoping to win all our matches," he said. "We have everyone back."
Over at Broadalbin-Perth, head coach Eric Sengenberger has a solid list of returners, including Alex Bond and Brett Getman, both of whom played in the 2013 Section II state qualifying tournament at Orchard Creek Country Club. Bond, a junior, and Getman, a senior, both shot 79 last season in the Section II Class B Tournament at Ballston Spa Country Club to tie for second. Alex Gibson, a junior from Glens Falls, won medalist honors for the third straight year, finishing with a 76.
"That was a good experience for them," said Broadalbin-Perth golf coach Eric Sengenberger. "It made them better golfers."
Expectations are high for the Patriots, who finished 7-7 in last year's Foothills Council race. Also returning is talented sophomore Noah Scott and senior Sean Craig.
Sengenberger is hoping the foursome of Bond, Getman, Scott and Craig will have enough low rounds to qualify as a team for sectional play. All four must shoot five rounds of 8-over par or better to qualify -- with at least two of those rounds coming away from home.
"We have some really good depth this year," said Sengenberger who is carrying a roster of 16 golfers after making three cuts. "We can easily go 10-11 deep. We have numbers and we are young with only two seniors and seven sophomores. All our scoring is back and we're looking to improve. We're excited."