Thursday, October 23, 2014

Inter-Ac's best got a little taste of Scottish golf

   It couldn’t have been much fun for the Inter-Ac League’s top players to slog their way around a tough Philadelphia Cricket Club Militia Hill course in Wednesday’s rain and wind. The players were even called off the course at one point because of the threat of lightning.
   It was, as league secretary Paris Sterrett described it, Scotland weather.
   Such was the parity of talent in the league this year that Penn Charter freshman Brian Isztwan, a coach’s wild-card pick into the Bert Linton Inter-Ac League Tournament, emerged with the title after tying with Haverford School’s Otis Baker at 76. Isztwan parred the first hole of a playoff to take the title.
   Malvern Prep’s Nick Miller, who endured the disappointment of being disqualified in the next-to-last mini-tournament of the season for signing an incorrect scorecard, showed he has put it behind him with a 77 to take third.
   Another coach’s wild card, Haverford School’s Jack  McAleese, got a share of fourth with another freshman, Episcopal Academy’s promising Jon Nolan Perry, and Malvern Prep’s Mike Lamond. McAleese had some clutch rounds during Haverford School’s run to a fourth Inter-Ac League title in five years this fall.
   Junior Max Siegfried, Haverford School’s best player this seaon, shared seventh place with Episcopal senior Joe Chambers, Malvern Prep’s Brendan Bacskai and Germantown Academy’s Jake Niedosik. They all shot 80.
   Rounding out The Haverford School contingent were Peter Garno (81), Jay Losty (84), Ryan Bowman (84), Jack Henderson (87) and Matt Grubb (89). Episcopal’s Scott McConnell posted an 84 and Trey Croney had an 88.
   Such were the conditions that Penn Charter’s JB Bradbeer, who led the league in the points standings compiled from the regular-season mini-tournaments, could only manage an 86.
   Some of the top players from Haverford School, Episcopal and Malvern Prep will tee it up Saturday at Brookside Country Club in Pottstown in the Pennsylvania Independent School Athletic Association Tournament. Episcopal’s Croney won the title last year at Stonewall.

Berman claims second win

   It has been quite a start to his Georgetown career this fall for Cole Berman, the two-time Daily Times Player of the Year at The Haverford School.
   You’d think it would be tough to top winning the title in your debut event as a freshman,  but earlier this week Berman won a playoff to capture the Georgetown Intercollegiate, hosted, obviously, by the Hoyas, for his second win of the fall campaign.
   Berman fired a 2-under 69 Tuesday at The Members Club at Four Streams to end up in a tie for the top spot with William & Mary’s Alex Hicks, the same Alex Hicks who reached the final of the 2013 Golf Association of Philadelphia’s Amateur Championship at Aronimink Golf Club before falling to Michael McDermott.
   Combined with his opening-round 71, the 69 gave Berman a 2-under 140 total. He parred the first hole of a playoff to claim the title.
   “It was great to win  with the entire team here,” Berman told the Georgetown website. “Today was a grind.  I was playing well, but  not making any putts, so luckily I had a chance to be in  a playoff.
   “I knew I had to shoot something in the 60s to win. Luckily 69 was enough. Throughout the day, I didn’t know if it would be enough, you need some things to go your way and today they did.”
Berman’s first-place finish helped Georgetown finish in a tie for sixth with Penn State at 589. The Hoyas had rounds of 297 and 292.
   Toledo captured the team title at 569 (284-285) as the Rockets had three players – Chris Selfridge (70-71), Otto Black (69-72) and Stephen Watts (71-70) – finish in a tie for third in the individual chase at 1-under 141.
   One of the teams Berman’s Hoyas did beat though was Temple, which finished ninth at 595 (304-291). The Owls were led by junior Brandon Matthews, the 2013 GAP Player of the Year who finished in a tie for seventh with rounds of 71 and 72 for a 1-over 143 total.
   Earlier this month, the Owls captured the title in their Temple Invitational that was played at Huntingdon Valley Country Club, one of several William Flynn-designed gems in this area. Temple had rounds of 287 and 285 for a 572 total.
   Matthews led the way, taking the individual title with a pair of 69s and a 138 total. Newly crowned 2014 GAP Player of the Year Matthew Teesdale, winner of the Philadelphia Open last summer at Applebrook Golf Club, finished in a tie for eighth at Huntingdon Valley for the Owls with rounds of 70 and 77 for a 147 total.
   Berman, who recently received the GAP Junior Player of the Year award for the third straight year, and Georgetown also teed it up in the Temple Invitational and the two-time Inter-Ac League Tournament winner was the Hoyas’ low man, finishing in a tie for eighth overall with rounds of 71 and 76 for a 147 total.
   Berman helped Georgetown finish in a tie for fifth in the team standings with rounds of 291 and 306 for a 597 total.
   One of the players who also finished in a tie for eighth at that 147 figure was Hartford’s Will Betts, the Pittsburgh area resident who drove across the state to earn co-medalist honors in U.S. Amateur qualifying at Stonewall last summer. Betts had rounds of 72 and 75 at Huntingdon Valley.

A state title for the Prep and other Heritage Hills musings

   Sounds like it was a miserable day for golf Wednesday as the PIAA Tournament concluded with team competition in boys and girls Class AAA and AA at the Heritage Hills Golf Resort (somehow the Inter-Ac League held its tournament Wednesday at Philadelphia Cricket Club’s Militia Hill course and we have some basic results in Thursday’s Daily Times print edition and on GameTime Pa., but I will expand on that later in the week), but there were some interesting results despite the conditions.
   As I predicted, Mount St. Joseph senior Isabella DiLisio finished her scholastic career in fine fashion with a 78, but it wasn’t enough to lift the Mount to a second straight team title. Central Valley, which was a Class AA program as recently as two years ago when the Radnor girls were winning the Class AAA team title, edged the Mount by four shots to win the Class AAA team title.
Central Valley’s Maddy McDaniel had the only round better in Class AAA than DiLisio’s in the cold, rainy and windy conditions with a 75.
   DiLisio, who told The Times Herald’s Rick Kauffman, that she was devastated when she failed to advance out of the East Regional and get a shot at repeating as the PIAA Class AAA champion, did her best to make it two straight team titles for the Mount. DiLisio’s dad told me Tuesday at Heritage Hills that Isabella will continue her golf and academic careers at Notre Dame.
   The Class AAA boys team title went to Catholic League champion  St. Joseph’s Prep, which I believe is the first state golf championship for a Catholic League and District 12 representative, although it seemed like it was just a matter of time before La Salle or the Prep won a state team title.
The Prep displayed remarkable balance in winning the title by just three shots over Scranton Prep. Jack Mitchell led the way for the Prep with a 79. The Hawks’ four other players, Paul Mauer, Nick Calabrese, Alex Butler and Mike Burns, all shot 81.  So one of the 81s didn’t matter as the Prep finished with a 322 total.
   I’m not sure if any of the Prep’s players is a Delco resident, but I do know one of their dads is a Delco native. Paul Mauer’s father Paul is a fellow Archbishop Carroll Class of 1973 graduate of mine (and fellow St. Denis graduate and fellow Shawnee Road resident) and a fellow veteran of the Merion Golf Club caddyshack. The elder Mauer is the manager of Stonewell, the gorgeous 36-hole complex carved out of farm country in northwestern Chester County. Stonewall will play host to the U.S. Mid-Amateur Championship in 2016.
   District One did grab one of the team titles at Heritage Hills as Roland Massimino, grandson of Rollie Massimino, coach of Villanova’s Cinderella 1985 NCAA men’s basketball championship team, led New Hope-Solebury to a narrow one-shot victory over Sewickley Academy for the Class AA title. Massimino posted a remarkable even-par 72 in the tough conditions as New Hope-Solebury had a 333 total.
   The Class AA girls title went to Villa Maria from District 10 with a 389 total.
   In addition to DiLisio wrapping up her scholastic career at Heritage Hills, Tuesday’s second round of the individual competition was the last go-round for Pennsbury senior Jackie Rogowicz and, like DiLisio, is was a decorated career indeed.
   Rogowicz struggled with the putter Tuesday, but still managed a 79, which got her a share of fifth place and one last state medal. She has been, very simply, right in the thick of things in the last three scholastic postseasons.
   Rogowicz won her second District One title this fall and she was second to DiLisio at districts when the two of them, just sophomores, opened the tournament with 66s at Gilbertsville Golf Club’s Red and White nines. Rogowicz was the runnerup to Council Rock North’s Erica Herr when Herr won her second straight state title in 2012 and was the runnerup in 2013 when DiLisio grabbed the title with a dramatic eagle at the last hole.
   And there she was Tuesday in the final group, once again contending for a state title right to the end.
   Rogowicz, as I mentioned in a post last week, is headed to Penn State and the Nittany Lions’ head coach Denise St. Pierre had a smile on her face as she watched the last two groups in the Class AAA field. Of the eight players, she has successfully recruited four of them. I mentioned last week that Rogowicz, Villa Maria’s Cara Basso and Council Rock North junior Madelein Herr are headed for Penn State, but St. Pierre’s stable of talent will also include Canon-McMillan senior Lauren Waller, who battled Radnor’s Brynn Walker shot for shot in the final round before finally settling for second when Walker birdied the first hole of a playoff.
   In previewing the state tournament, I guessed that the winner would probably come from a strong District One contingent and with Walker taking the title, that assessment proved correct.
   But District Seven, led by Waller’s runnerup finish, made plenty of noise. Gateway junior Johnna Beehner, who played in the final group with Walker, Waller and Rogowicz, finished in a tie for third with Peters Township sophomore Mia Kness, giving District Seven three of the top four finishers.
   Rogowicz shared fifth with Allison Cooper of Central Dauphin and District Three. Cooper has been a fixture at the state tournament the last couple of years as well.
   The District One crowd was prominent among the rest of the top finishers as Owen J. Roberts junior Maddie Sager and Council Rock North’s Herr shared seventh place with another District Seven representative, Central Valley’s McDaniel. Villa Maria’s Basso was 10th, Unionville junior Kate Evanko was 11th and Coatesville junior Sammi Staudt was 12th.
   Which brings us to the champion, Radnor’s Walker. As I mentioned in my report that appeared in Wednesday’s Daily Times print edition, for as long as she hits it, it was Walker’s grit that won her the title.
   It looked like she had the title won when she hit a 5-iron stiff at the tough par-3 15th hole for a birdie that gave her a two-shot cushion on Waller with three holes play. But 16 and 17 at Heritage Hills are really tricky holes, especially when a state title is so close you can taste it.
   Walker hit a poor first putt on 16, leaving herself five feet for par and she couldn’t make it for a three-putt bogey.
   “I thought I was actually going to make it through a round here without a three-putt, but I guess it wasn’t meant to be,” Walker said later.
   A poor approach at 17 left her with at least a 60-foot putt. She left her first putt about 12 feet short and then hit a really good putt that just missed falling in on the low side. Suddenly the two-shot lead was gone, but if Walker was feeling the pressure, she never let it show.
   She striped her drive at the par-5 18th and drilled a 4-iron over the water to 22 feet. Waller did a great job getting her second shot on the green in two as well and nestled a lag putt up close. Walker had an eagle putt to win it and very nearly made it.
   More than an hour later – a ridiculously long wait for a playoff for a state title in a typically curious decision by the PIAA – Walker got up on the ninth tee and smashed a driver 275 yards, deftly chipped it to a foot and a half away and made the putt for a birdie and a state championship.
   Afterward, she related some advice she learned as a fledgling golfer about match play, which is essentially what she and Waller were engaged in for the last nine holes and the playoff.
   “My grandpa told me if you’re in match play, always assume the other player is going to birdie the hole or chip in or get the best possible result,” Walker said alongside the ninth green at Heritage Hills amid an impromptu celebration among family and friends. “You can’t ever count on the other player playing poorly. You have to play good.”
   When Walker had to, that’s exactly what she did.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Siegfried heads Haverford School's Militia Hill contingent

   At some point this week I’ll remember most of the things I couldn’t fit in my story about Brynn Walker’s victory at the state tournament and turn that into a blog post, but there is the no small matter of the Bert Linton Inter-Ac League Tournament, which will be held Wednesday at Philadelphia Cricket Club’s Militia Hill Course.
   I will not be able to attend, which is a shame because my two trips to the Inter-Ac tourney at the Militia Hill course coincided with a victory for The Haverford School’s Michael Kania and the win for the Fords’ Cole Berman in the first Inter-Ac tourney staged in the fall in 2011. Berman was a sophomore and it was the first of his two Inter-Ac titles. Kania’s win at Militia Hill was the second of his two Inter-Ac titles.
   Anybody from the list of the top 18 point-getters from the Inter-Ac’s regular season of six mini-tournaments is capable of winning this event. That’s almost always true and it may be even more so this fall.
   The Haverford School’s top contender is junior Max Siegfried, younger brother of former Fords standout Corey Siegfried, winner of the 2010 Pennsylvania Amateur. Siegfried, an Aronimink Golf Club member, finished second in the points standings behind only Penn Charter’s JB Bradbeer, a member at Merion Golf Club.
   Leading a talented Episcopal contingent are seniors Joe Chambers, who finished third in the points standings, and Trey Croney, who won the Pennsylvania Independent School Athletic Association Tournament at Stonewall last fall. Episcopal freshman Jon Nolan Perry has certainly flashed  some talent for the Churchmen this fall as well.
   Malvern Prep, which battled Haverford School shot for shot before the Fords claimed the Inter-Ac team title this fall, is led by Brendan Bacskai, who finished fourth in the points standings and has been one of the league’s top players in each of the last two seasons.
   The rest of The Haverford School contingent is totally capable of putting together a hot round and winning this thing, especially senior Jay Losty, who had an inconsistent fall, but was acknowledged as one the Inter-Ac’s most talented players coming into the season.
   It would come as no surprise to see any of the rest of the Fords -- Otis Baker, Ryan Bowman, Matt Grubb or Peter Garno – show up on the leaderboard by the end of the day.
   Not sure what the Plan B is if the much-ballyhooed Nor’Easter  makes an appearance Wednesday. But whenever the Inter-Ac tourney is played, it figures to be quite a shootout.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Walker is Radnor's latest hope at Heritage Hills

The Heritage Hills Golf Resort has been kind to the Radnor golf program.
  The PIAA Tournament first came to the layout in Springettsbury Township in York County in 2002 and Radnor junior Adam Cohan christened the place by winning the PIAA championship in a playoff. A year later Cohan and Strath Haven’s Conrad Von Borsig staged a memorable head-to-head duel before finishing in a tie for second.
   Three years later with the PIAA staging a team championship in golf for the first time, the Radnor boys grabbed that title in frigid conditions at Heritage Hills.
   Three years later, Radnor senior Jackie Calamaro took control of the girls championship in the first round and never let go in bringing a state championship back to the Main Line.
   Three more years later, with senior Jamie Susanin and freshman Brynn Walker leading the way, the Radnor girls claimed the Class AAA state team title on a sun-splashed day in York County.
   Walker will tee it up in the opening round of the PIAA Class AAA Tournament Monday at Heritage Hills and has to be considered a contender for a state title. The junior All-Delco topped the field at last week’s East Regional with a 2-under-par 70 at Golden Oaks Golf Club after struggling to a tie for sixth at the District One Tournament a week earlier.
   Walker has played a lot of golf at a very high level since finishing in a tie for fifth at Heritage Hills a year ago. The St. Davids Golf Club member criss-crossed the country this summer, earning spots in the U.S. Girls Junior and U.S. Women’s Amateur championships, rubbing elbows with the top junior players at the inaugural AJGA’s Yani Tseng Invitational.
   When Walker walks on a golf course these days, it is with the full knowledge that she can go under par. She understands that golf being golf, she often won’t get there, but she knows she is fully capable of playing that kind of golf.
   Heritage Hills is a quirky course. Chichester’s Aurora Kan doesn’t finally win a state championship in her fourth try in 2010 if her tee shot at the short par-4 16th hole in the final round, seemingly headed for the creek that borders the right side of the hole, doesn’t instead catch the cart path just short of the creek and instead bound up on the green.
   When Kennett’s Christine Shimel won the state title in 2008, it began an uninterrupted run of champions from District One. Class AA has been added since, but the champion or Class AAA champion has been from District One ever since Shimel won six years ago.
   The Class AAA champion will likely emerge from the group of seven District One players who were among the top eight finishers at last week’s East Regional.
   Chief among them is Pennsbury senior Jackie Rogowicz, who has been the runnerup in Class AAA in each of the last two years and won her second District One title two weeks ago. Rogowicz finished two shots back of Walker in second at Golden Oaks.
   Walker’s pal, Council Rock North junior Madelein Herr, shared third place at Golden Oaks with a 73. Walker and Herr teamed up the week before districts to take medalist honors in qualifying for the inaugural U.S. Women’s Amateur Four-Ball Championship. Herr’s older sister Erica won back-to-back state championships in 2011 and 2012 and very nearly won a third as a senior a year ago.
   Owen J. Roberts’ junior Maddie Sager, who shared fifth place with Walker at Heritage Hills a year ago, finished in a tie for third at the regional with Herr.
   Villa Maria senior Cara Basso was the Class AA state champion as a sophomore and has moved up to Class AAA this fall. She was sixth at Golden Oaks followed by Unionville’s Kate Evanko in seventh and Coatesville’s Sammie Staudt in eighth.
   The stage is set for what figures to be quite a shootout at Heritage Hills.

Lees on a roll on Junior Tour

   Agnes Irwin freshman Kaitlyn Lees made it three straight Philadelphia PGA Junior Tour wins in a row as the Philadelphia Country Club member carded an 89 in windy conditions Saturday to finish atop the 16-to-18 division at the Links Golf Club in Marlton, N.J.
   Lees, the Inter-Ac League champion as a seventh-grader and runnerup as an eighth-grader last spring, had one birdie on her card.
   Maggie Cass of Wayne finished third in the division with a 100 and Radnor junior Caitlin Bullock was fourth with a 110.
   Garnet Valley’s Jake Hudock finished in a tie for fifth in the 16-to-18 boys division with an 85. Luca Jezzeny of Furlong took top honors in the division after finishing in a tie with Ethan Murphy of  Mechanicsburg at 80 and winning a scorecard playoff.
   The day’s best round belonged to Caleb Ryan of Norristown, who had a 1-over 72 over the 6,418-yard, par-71 Links layout to top the 13-to-15 age group. Matthew Davis of Newtown Square finished second with a 79, D.J. Colleran of Radnor was fourth with an 81, Matthew Barkann of Newtown Square was 13th with a 92 and Daniel Bullock of Wayne was 15th with a 95.
   Among the nine-holers, Jackson Fields of Glen Mills finished in a tie for fifth with a 47 and Roy Anderson of Chadds Ford was ninth with a 51. Alex Mulrooney of Wilmington, Del. topped the division with a 38.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Haverford School's depth earned it an Inter-Ac title

   As was noted in the Wednesday print edition of the Daily Times, Haverford School clinched the Inter-Ac League golf championship Tuesday with a six-shot advantage over Malvern Prep in the final mini-tournament hosted by Episcopal Academy at Merion Golf Club’s West Course.
   The Fords saw their run of three straight Inter-Ac titles snapped by Malvern Prep a year ago. Although they lacked an individual star like graduated Cole Berman, who was twice the Daily Times Player of the Year, the Fords’ balance and depth is what carried them to the title this year.
   Otis Baker led the way Tuesday with a 36 at the West (a favorite course of any former Merion looper like myself who got to play there on caddy day Mondays), Jay Losty and Jack Henderson posted 37s, junior Max Siegfried, who emerged as Haverford School’s top player this fall, had a 39, as did Jack McAleese, who was incredibly clutch this fall, and the Fords could take their pick from one of the 40s posted by Matt Grubb and Peter Garnos to round out their 228 total.
   Ryan Bowman, who finished sixth in the overall individual standings, had a 43. But whenever any of Haverford School’s players had a tough day, one of his teammates was always there to pick him up. The 36 McAleese put up when Malvern Prep hosted at Waynesborough Country Club might have been the single round that decided the league title.
   Those final individual regular-season rankings tell the story of Haverford School’s championship. Siegfried finished second behind top-ranked JB Bradbeer of Penn Charter (and a Merion member), Baker was fifth, Bowman sixth, Henderson seventh, Grubb eighth, Losty 13th, Garnos 16th and McAleese, despite not teeing it up in the first mini-tournament of the fall, was 19th. That’s eight players among the top 20 in the most competitive league in the state.
   The top 18 in the individual rankings are automatic qualifiers for the Bert Linton Inter-Ac League Tournament Wednesday at Philadelphia Cricket Club’s Militia Hill course.
   Heading the Episcopal contingent will be Joe Chambers, who finished third in the individual rankings. The Malvern Prep group will be led by Brendan Bacskai, who was fourth in the rankings.
   Haverford School’s final record in the mini-tournaments was 27-2-1 with Malvern Prep the runnerup at 25-4-1 in what was a very tight race all fall.
   Haverford School’s victory Tuesday also made it a moot point that Malvern Prep’s Nick Miller was disqualified for signing an incorrect scorecard in the next-to-last  mini-tournament,  costing the Friars a victory over Haverford School as the teams ended in a tie that day. The mistake by Miller, who was one of Malvern Prep’s top players all season, did not cost the Friars the title.

Tough day for DiLisio

   The big story – besides, of course, the victory by Radnor junior All-Delco Brynn Walker – at Tuesday’s PIAA East Regional at Golden Oaks Golf Club was the failure of reigning PIAA Class AAA champion Isabella DiLisio to qualify for a return trip to Heritage Hills Golf Resort to defend her title.
   The Mount St. Joseph senior had a couple of bad holes and shot 83 to miss the qualifying cutoff by two shots. The East Regional is the last step to the state tournament, it’s a one-day event and there is no margin for error.
   But DiLisio’s bad day Tuesday takes nothing away from a brilliant scholastic career. She burst on the scene by claiming the District One crown as a sophomore. Her 25-foot putt for eagle on the 18th hole at Heritage Hills last fall to snatch the state title away from Council Rock North’s Erica Herr, the reigning two-time state champion, was one of the single most dramatic moments I can recall in more than a decade of covering the state tournament at Heritage Hills.
   And while DiLisio’s career as an individual high school golfer may be over, there is a little matter of the Mount chasing a second straight PIAA Class AAA team title Wednesday. Don’t be surprised if DiLisio goes low in her final scholastic event.
   Despite DiLisio’s stumble at Golden Oaks, District One golfers, led by Walker’s winning total of 2-under 70, dominated as usual.
   Pennsbury’s Jackie Rogowicz, coming off her second straight District One title, finished second at 72, Council Rock North’s Madelein Herr and Owen J. Roberts’ Maddie Sager finished in a tie for third at 73, Villa Maria’s Cara Basso, who won a state title in Class AA two years ago, was sixth at 75, Unionville’s Kate Evanko was seventh at 77 and Coatesville’s Sammie Staudt earned a third trip to the state tournament by finishing eighth with a 78.
   By the way, veteran Penn State coach Denise St. Pierre has hit the District One jackpot. Rogowicz, a two-time state runnerup, and Basso will join the Nittany Lions next fall and Herr, a junior, has made a verbal commitment to join the program in two years. That is some serious talent joining a Penn State program that has been on the rise the last couple of years.

Updike, Colleran look good at Heidelberg

   The Philadelphia PGA Junior Tour stopped for the first time at Heidelberg Country Club Saturday and John Updike of Wayne and D.J. Colleran of Radnor had strong showings.
   Updike finished third in the 13-to-15 division with an 84 and Colleran was two shots back of him in a tie for fourth with an 86. Chase Miller used his local knowledge as a member at Heidelberg to take top honors in the division with a 77 over the 6,282-yard, par-70 layout.
   Also in the division, Andrew Curran of Media finished 14th with a 101.
   Michael Wolf of Drexel Hill finished eighth in the 16-to-18 division with a 94. Campbell Wolf of Enola took division honors with a 78.
   Olivia Traynor of Villanova finished second in the 13-to-15 division with a 100. Rachel Brahler of Pottsville made her Philly Junior Tour debut a winning one with a 98.
   Among the nine-holers, Roy Anderson of Chadds Ford finished fifth with a 47 and Andrew Damico of Havertown finished sixth with a 58. Alex Mulrooney of Wilmington, Del. won the division with a 44.