By Greg Gulas
The Greatest Golfer
BOARDMAN – Brandon Pluchinsky shot a five-under par 65 to hold a four-stroke lead over Josh Zarlenga and Garrett Frank after opening round action of the 13th annual Farmers National Bank Greatest Golfer Tournament.
Scott Porter and Corey Hine’s each carded par 70 to remain five shots off the pace in the Duncan Kitchen and Bath men’s open division.
In the Fizzy Beez Ladies Flight 1 gross division, Kiersten Klekner-Alt is tops after authoring a 72, six shots better than Otterbein University standout Jackie Adler and Jayne Bernard, former Cardinal Mooney High and current Malone University linkster.
Pluchinsky, the former South Range High and YSU links standout who has won three consecutive and four of the past five Greatest Golfer championships, hit 16 greens and had just one bogey, that coming on the last hole.
“Hitting 16 greens and making a few putts was key for me today,” Pluchinsky said. “I had a bad lie and short sided myself on the last hole. Mill Creek was the firmest it has been all year and I was quite impressed with how the greens held up.”
Two-time champion Jonah Karzmer – he won in both 2013 and 2015 – is seven strokes back after an opening round 72.
“I was disappointed with my final number but the course was beautiful and Mill Creek does an excellent job of getting ready for Day No. 1 of the Greatest Golfer,” Karzmer added. “My number was higher than I would have liked but the greens were great, I just putted bad. I hit well off the tee and had just two bad shots, I just needed my putter to be better.”
In the Elias CPA Group men’s 3-6 division, Jake Snyder sits atop the leaderboard after carding a par 70, three shots better than Dylan Todd and YSU head baseball coach Dan Bertolini.
Snyder won the men’s 7-9 division in 2019 and last year posted a runner-up finish in the 3-6 division.
“I played everything down and the course was in absolute great shape,” Snyder stated. “When playing Mill Creek, you try to avoid the trees and today I was able to keep my ball on the fairway, using my driver just twice the entire round. I missed some greens, so chipping and putting was my strong suit or it could easily have been a round of 80.”
Canfield resident Mick Engle was one of six players to card 77 to share the lead in the M-7 Technologies Men’s 10-12 grouping.
Joining Engle atop the division are John Poultney, Jeff Mast, Michael Vargo, Jr., Bob Haseley and Adam Hill, while Ryder Kreps and Adam Clayton are a shot off the pace.
“I had just one birdie the entire round, but today, I don’t think I have had a more consistent round with my driver,” Engle noted. “I played in the Greatest Golfer two years ago, shot an 88 on the very first day and missed the Sunday cut despite carding 81 at Avalon Lakes. My goal today was to exact revenge on Mill Creek, but this is only one round and there are still two rounds left to play.
“I need to keep my focus so my goal on Saturday is to play my game and not do anything more than I am capable of. My second round will be played at Tippecanoe Country Club and it is a very tough course from tee to green. Putting will separate the field after Saturday’s second round.”
In the Konkrete Dezign 13-15 division, Jay Moore carded 76 for a one stroke lead over Phil Eubank and Josh Marsh while Don Newell, Jr. posted an 81 with Joe Fanto and Joe Palumbo four shots off the pace in the Bunker at Southern Park 16-19 division.
The Maruca Law Group Men’s 20-plus has Zach Dankovich and Dan Monico sharing the lead after an opening round 91 while in the BG Trucking men’s Senior Open division, J.P. Jones carded 71 for a two-stroke lead over Frank Santisi, Dick Marlowe, David Cooper and Robert Gintert, each carding 73.
In PARC Appliance men’s senior 7-12 action, Rick Kurth’s 76 is a shot ahead of Brad McDevitt, while in the Ed and Kim Nappi senior 13-plus division, John Dunch shot an 80 for a three-stroke lead over Steve Sofocleous and Paul Parteleno.
The Signature Granite men’s 7-9 division finds Kyle Flory’s 76 one shot better than runner-up Jamie Palumbo, with John Hazy and Chad Dager three shots off the pace while in Cole Valley Cadillac Legends 70-plus action, Chuck Montgomery’s 81 is a shot better than runner-up Jim Santini
In the Kady Family Ladies Flight 2 (net) division, Alexa Tringhese carded a 64, four strokes better than Veronica Trigo, with Sandra DiMargio six shots off the pace.
Brian Tolnar is Mill Creek PGA director of golf.
“We are so glad to play host to the first-round of the Greatest Golfer, the premier amateur golf event in the Mahoning Valley,” Tolnar said. “This year’s field was the biggest ever, and the scores certainly didn’t disappoint. This year’s weather was perfect, our course superintendent, Lance Bailey and his staff, had the course in tournament-ready shape and the compliments by the players were off the charts.
“The weather looks absolutely perfect for the final round on Sunday at the Lake Club, and hats off to Todd Franko and his staff for once again running a well-oiled machine.”
The field of 340 continues Saturday with second-round action at area courses and Sunday’s championship set for the Lake Club in Poland. The top 25 percent in each division advance to Sunday’s finals at The Lake Club.