By RYAN BUCK
His first name has been long forgotten. Ever since he can remember, friends and family only call him by his nickname, “Uncle Milty.”
That is how Glenn Milton is known in the area golf circles. The Struthers resident even marks his golf balls with the moniker.
“I have been playing since high school and somehow it just stuck,” Milton said. “People have found lots of my golf balls with my name on it and then I hear about it.”
After taking the lead in the Men’s Open Division on opening day of The Vindicator’s Greatest Golfer of the Valley presented by Farmers National Bank, he’s poised to use a different mark: Greatest Golfer Champion. Milton fired the best score out of more than 300 golfers Friday at Mill Creek Golf Course.
“I was comfortable today,” he said after his round. “I was striking it well, was putting it well — no stress in the round.”
Milton’s even-par 70 tops a crowded leaderboard. Former YSU and NFL kicker Jeff Wilkins, Jonah Karzmer, Nate Mullen and Josh Zarlenga are only two back.
Zarlenga, a Boardman native, is playing for much more than the Pete Mollica Trophy this weekend.
His cousin, Zachary, was killed in a motorcycle accident on Monday in Youngstown.
“It was nice to get out and get my mind off things,” said Zarlenga, who was amongst many of his good friends on the course and atop the leaderboard. “It’s pretty tight. It’ll be interesting to see how this plays out.”
For 363 days, Abby Cook has had to walk past the Greatest Golfer trophy her father, Rod, won in the Men’s 10-14 handicap flight. She says she’s had enough.
“That is a reminder every single day that I have to bring it home,” said Cook, a Girard native.
After a rocky start, she settled in for an opening round 79 and a two-shot lead over Sally Taylor and Jill Harmon in the Women’s 9-plus division.
“I was really nervous,” Cook said. “I got the first three holes out of the way and it was smooth sailing from there.”
In the Women’s Open division, Toni Notaro’s brilliant 74 gives her a seven-shot advantage over Joan Ash and defending champion Lori Bowden.
Notaro is the reigning runner-up to Bowden.
In the Men’s 15-plus handicap flight, Steve Martin’s 80 leads a crowd headed towards a wild and crazy weekend. After three double bogeys in his first nine holes, he had to reevaluate.
“Nothing was working, actually,” Martin said. “On the back, the driver and putter started working.
It was just one of those magical days I know don’t come around very often so I’m just going to enjoy this.”
Max Marcavish sits three shots back, while Tom O’Nesti, Nicholas Inchak, Fred Davidson and Sean Tisone are all lurking.
There’s something about the letter ‘M’ in the Men’s 5-9 handicap flight. Larry McCall, Doug McCullin and Bryce Miner all fired two-over 72s for a three-way tie for first place before another crowded leaderboard. Six players are within three shots of them.
In the Men’s 10-14 handicap, Ken Beler and George Krinos lead with a 78. Domenic Carano and Griffin Todd are one shot behind.
The Seniors and Super Seniors will conclude today at The Lake Club.
Tim Porter leads Robert Leonard and Tom Korner by one and two shots, respectively, headed into the Seniors’ finals.
Local stalwarts Ed Antonelli and Dominic Vechiarelli are headed for a showdown in the Super Seniors finals today. They sit tied for the lead.
Play continues today at The Lake Club, Trumbull, Tippecanoe Country Club, Youngstown Country Club and West Middlesex’ Oak Tree Country Club.
For all tournament coverage, see The Vindicator in print and online at Vindy.com/golf.