Carl Alexander ripped through the first six holes at Pelham CC with three birdies and an eagle to separate himself from the field at the inaugural Westchester Senior Open this week. A double bogey on the tough eighth hole was the only real bobble on his round, which he finished at four under par, three strokes ahead of 53 premier competitors. The win was his second Open victory with the Westchester Golf Association. Alexander, the head pro at the Golf Club of Purchase, also won the Westchester Open in 2000.
The highlight of his round was an eagle on the 512-yard par-five fifth hole, where Alexander played a conservative layup second shot to avoid potential disaster in the creek running in front of the green. His pinpoint wedge third shot spun back and trickled into the hole. “I had 80 yards and hit a beautiful little wedge shot that hit behind the hole,” he said. “When it fell in, I knew I was on a roll at that point. Then I made another birdie on the next hole, so I had a good little stretch, knew I was deep under par, and just started telling myself this is why I’m here.”
Finishing behind 55-year-old Alexander with one-under 70s were two of Westchester’s most consistent winners, Rob Labritz of GlenArbor, winner of this year’s Westchester Open, and Craig Thomas of Metropolis, also a Westchester Open winner. Both men have competed (and won) numerous times on the national level in PGA of America championships. Richard Kelsey of Old Oaks captured low amateur honors in a match of cards with Darren Johnston of Rye, both of whom carded 3-over 74s.
This was the first championship event staged at Pelham Country Club since the Mike Devries renovation was completed last year. The renovation completely overhauled five holes, drastically improving environmental sustainability efforts and rerouting much of the course’s layout. Alexander’s 4-under 67 matched the new layout’s course record. The course held up well to the assault by some of the top players in the region, whose average gross score was 77.6 on the par-71 layout. The hardest hole in the tournament was the new first hole, a 400-yard par-four that produced a scoring average of 4.94. The controversial drive-able fourth hole, a 273-yard par-four, did the club proud as well, playing to an average of 4.13.