WATERTOWN, N.Y. (WWNY) - One of the few sporting events still taking place locally this summer due to COVID-19 began Saturday at the Watertown Golf Club as the best golfers in the area teed it up for the 2020 Watertown Mens City Golf Championship.
Rainy conditions greeted the golfers taking to the links in search of one of the 32 spots in the championship flite.
Match play begins Sunday morning at 9 AM with a rare shotgun start.
The semifinals will take place next Saturday with the 36 hole match play championship slated for next Sunday.
One of the favorites this year, as he is every year, is 14 time champion Bob Hughes, who last won the title in 2016.
Hughes would play steady Saturday and shoot an even par 72. Good enough for the 7th seed.
The top 5 look like this:
By virtue of winning last years championship, Bufalini elected to take the top seed. Jordan Reardon was the medalist Saturday, shooting a 3 under par 69. He was followed by Chris Denesha, who carded a 2 under 70. Marcus Emerson and Brandon Mothersell were 4th and 5th with 1 under 71′s.
Bufalini, who begins his quest for an 8th City Golf title Sunday, says this year’s tournament is shaping up to be one of the most intriguing in its long history thanks to COVID-19.
”Yeah, it’s certainly been a strange year. I think we’re all in the same boat this year. I don’t think anybody has played a whole lot of golf due to the pandemic, but you know, we’ll see what happens and I like my chances just as much as anybody else. Go out and tee it up tomorrow and see what happens,” said Bufalini.
While other leagues and conferences made the hard decision to cancel their fall sports seasons, the Liberty League has been working in conjunction with other member schools to formulate a plan for games in the fall.
On Tuesday, St. Lawrence University announced a plan in conjunction with the Liberty League on a resumption of athletic competition in the fall, with the season starting later than usual, at the end of September, along with a limited schedule.
Assistant Athletic Director Brian Atkins says when athletes return to campus to begin practices, things will look very different.
”You’re looking at the first 2 weeks in groups of 10 to 12. Smaller groups that can be handled and managed accordingly. After those first 2 weeks, then you’re looking at jumping that up into groups of about 50. And we’re using those guidelines that the NCAA has sent out to utilize that and then still having some restrictions in that second 2 weeks just again with social distancing, sanitation protocols, you know, just making sure that we’re adding in more people in that group and obviously a group of 50 is a fairly large group minus a football team. That you could start getting practices to look similar to what they possibly look like in the past,” said Atkins.
When all teams complete the first two phases of re-socialization, they will be allowed to engage in competition and all student athletes will undergo COVID-19 training and educational sessions as well.
”It gives us an opportunity, even though it will be a short schedule. It’s not gonna be the same as it’s been a year ago, but it gives us an opportunity to provide a great experience for our student-athletes and not only provide a great experience, but to do it in a healthy and safe way,” said Atkins.
On Thursday, the NCAA announced that Division 3 student athletes will not be charged with participation for the 2020-21 season if their team competes in 50% or less of their games due to COVID-19. Its something Atkins feels will take a big weight off student athletes shoulders with the uncertainty that surrounds the season.
”When they put that out yesterday, it’s been talked about for awhile but they released that, I think it calmed some nerves. You know, for you to make a statement about some athletes I think that’s weighing on a lot of kids and it’s weighing on a lot of student athletes across the nation,” said Atkins.
Earlier in the week, the Ivy League announced it was cancelling its fall sports season and added competition for winter sports teams wouldn’t begin until January of 2021 at the earliest.
Something that poses a problem for the Saints men’s and women’s hockey teams, who are members with Ivy League schools in the ECAC Hockey Conference.
”That obviously changes some things right now, so the ECAC made a statement today that they’re gonna be ongoing talks about creating the best possible chance of competition for this upcoming season, so that’s still being worked on and still being worked out amongst athletic directors in the league and amongst the coaches,” said Atkins.
Another season that may be cut short or wiped out altogether due to the COVID-19 pandemic.