Leaderboard shifts on 2nd day of Senior PC

Paul Battson/contributorFirst-round leader Kevin VandenBerg lines up his putt on the second green during the second round of the Senior Porter Cup on Thursday morning at Niagara Falls Country Club.

LEWISTON — Steve Maddalena has been here before — literally — but he doesn’t remember much about it.

He has the opportunity today for a more memorable experience by winning the Senior Porter Cup championship at Niagara Falls Country Club and boosting his World Amateur Golf Ranking.

Maddalena tied for 38th and tied for 49th in the 1979 and 1980 Porter Cups as an All-Big Ten player at the University of Michigan. On Thursday he said he remembered John Cook’s dramatic victory here in 1979 but “I didn’t remember anything about the course until I got to the 18th hole.”

Now he has a round to remember, a 4-under 66 that put him seven strokes ahead of Dave Bunker. Maddalena opened with a 70 and his 36-hole 136 puts him in position to tie or break the 6-under 204 recorded by Doug Hanzel in 2015 and 2019.

“Winning this would help my WAGR ranking,” he said. “I’m trying to get into the top 25 so I can play in the U.S. Senior Amateur instead of the qualifier. That’s brutal. There’s a hundred guys playing for three spots.” He missed qualifying for this year’s tournament by a stroke.

Maddalena, who is ranked 22nd in Amateurgolf.com Senior Points, won the Trans-Mississippi Senior title this past May. He also tied for third at the Society of Seniors Spring Classic.

His 66, one of only four sub-par rounds so far at NFCC, consisted of four birdies and no bogeys. He said all of his birdies were tap-ins.

Bunker, one of only two Canadians in the field, shot 68 after an opening 75 put him in a hole. He is listed seventh on the Amateurgolf.com Senior Points List. In addition to reaching the semifinals of the recent U.S. Senior Amateur, he also won the Gateway Senior Invitational and Florida State Golf Association Senior Amateur.

Rob Cowan, son of 1969 Porter Cup champion Gary Cowan, joined his Canadian countryman in the title chase with a 75 that put him at 146, third. 

Kevin VandenBerg, who took a one-stroke lead after a 69 in the first round, slipped to 80. He wiped out any chance of winning the tournament with a quadruple bogey 7 at the 12th hole.

The scramble for the Super Seniors title is more competitive with three players in contention. Randy King shot a second consecutive 72 and leads John Armstrong and Marc Fried by three shots.

Armstrong, who shot 72 and is at 147, won the title in 2016 and was third in 2018. Fried added a 74 to his opening 73 in a bid to win the division championship for a second consecutive time.

Some of the Legends (ages 70-74) and the Super Legends (75 and older) were victims of a 70-minute rain delay. There were nine threesomes on the back nine when the rain affected the tournament for the second time in two days. The first round needed a shotgun start after teeing off five hours late Wednesday.

Don Kuehn shot 78 in the Legends, but his 148 is good enough for a three-stroke lead over George Washburn who posted a 75 Thursday.

The fourth sub-par round belongs to Steve Wilson who had a 69 in the Super Legends. He’s up by eight strokes over Walt Martin.

The final round begins at 8:45 a.m. with a shotgun start. The awards luncheon will follow.

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