Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Moses still tied for lead; Berman wins in collegiate debut



   Concord Country Club head pro Mike Moses couldn’t match the scinntillating round he put together on his home course in his second round of the Philadelphia Section PGA Championship at Llanerch Country Club Wednesday, but he is still tied for the lead heading into Thursday’s final round back at Llanerch.
   Moses had grabbed a three-shot lead with his 6-under 65 in his opening round at Concord, a course he obviously knows very well. He shot a 5-over 76 at Llanerch Wednesday to share the lead after two rounds with Rob Shuey of Colonial Golf Club and Applebrook Golf Club head pro Dave McNabb at 1-under 141.
   Shuey, who had opened with a 1-under 70 at Llanerch Tuesday, matched par at Concord Wednesday to get to 141. McNabb had matched par at Llanerch with a 71 Tuesday and really had it going for a while Wednesday at Concord, reaching 5-under for the tournament at one point, before giving some shots back in a 1-under 70.
   Among the four players lurking at even-par 142 is the ageless Stu Ingraham, the teaching pro at the M Golf Range in Newtown Square. Ingraham added a 70 Wednesday to his opening-round 72.
Merion Golf Club’s head of instruction, Mark Sheftic, is among three players tied for eighth at 1-over 143 as he added a second-round 74 to his opening-round 69. Radnor Valley Country Club head pro George Forster and Merion pro Robby Bruns are among four players tied for 11th at 2-over 144. Forster added a 73 Wednesday to an opening-round 71 while Bruns has carded a pair of 72s.
   The Aronimink Golf Club pro shop is well-represented among the seven players tied for 15th at 3-over 145. Assistant pro Carson Solien, with rounds of 73 and 72, and head of instruction John Bierkan, with rounds of 70 and 75, are both sitting at 145.
   The top 12 finishers following Thursday’s final round will earn a spot in the PGA Professional National Championship (I like to call it by its old-school name, the National Club Pro) and they won’t have far to go to tee it up in that event, which is being held June 21 to 24 of next year at Philadelphia Cricket Club.
   The top finishers in the National Club Pro earn spots in the field of the PGA Championship, the final major professional championship each year. McNabb has taken that route to the last two PGAs, Sheftic has done in three times in the last five years, and Ingraham has made the trip to the PGA six times in his outstanding career.

Berman off to fast collegiate start

   I figured I’d check in at some point this fall and see how two-time Daily Times Player of the Year Cole Berman was doing in his first season at Georgetown. Figured it might take The Haverford School graduate and three-time Golf Association of Philadelphia Junior Player of the Year a little time to get his feet wet at the next level.
   Or not. I’m a little late with this (the event ended Sept. 7), but Berman, who closed out his summer with a rousing victory in the Patterson Cup, a GAP major, opened his collegiate career the same way, by winning a tournament.
   Berman had rounds of 69 and 68 at the par-71 U.S. Naval Academy Golf Course to take top honors in the Navy Fall Classic at 5-under 137. Berman was matched at that figure by Delaware’s Erik Dulik and defeated Dulik in a playoff to take the title, the first Hoya golfer to win the Navy Fall Classic since John Berg in 1992.
   “Cole’s win was special,” coach Tommy Hunter said on the Georgetown website. “He handled the pressure like an upperclassman. His decision-making made the difference. We can’t wait to get to our next event.”
   Berman’s effort helped Georgetown finish third in the team chase with rounds of 290 and 288 for a 578 total. Seton Hall (284-285—569) edged Delaware (288-282—570) by a shot for the team title.
Villanova was also in the field at the Navy Fall Classic, the Wildcats finishing sixth with rounds of 296 and 290 for a 586 total. Villanova was by Lucas Trim, a sophomore from Tampa, Fla. who had rounds of 72 and 71 to finish ninth at 1-over 143.

Haverford School, Malvern Prep are at it again

   Malvern Prep ended Haverford School’s three-year reign atop the Inter-Ac League last fall and the two teams got right back at it as the league’s series of mini-tournaments opened Tuesday at Philadelphia Cricket Club.
   The Friars had six players break 40 and they needed almost every shot as their 231 total edged the Fords by three shots.
   Nick Miller led the way for Malvern Prep with a 37 followed by Brendan Bacskai at 38 and Mike Szipasky, Marty McGuckin, Willis Moyer and Nick Fizzano all with 39s.
   Haverford School senior Jay Losty matched Miller’s 37, the low round of the day for the field, in leading the way for the Fords. Ryan Bowman and Matt Grubb added 38s, Jack Henderson carded a 39, Max Siegfried was at 40 and Peter Garno had a 42 as the Fords put up a 234 total
   Episcopal Academy, led by Joe Chambers with a 39, shared third place with Penn Charter at 253. Also counting for the Churchmen were Trey Croney with a 40, Jon Nolan Perry at 41, Cole Testaiuti with a 43, Scott McConnell with a 44 and Andrew Vetterlein at 46.
   A couple of high school dual matches slipped under the radar last week, including a summit meeting of Delco’s two top teams, Haverford School and Radnor.
   Haverford School’s Siegfried, a junior, matched par with a 35 at Gulph Mills Golf Club as the Fords claimed a 188-197 victory over the Raiders. Grubb added a 36, Bowman had a 38, Garno had a 39 and Otis Baker had a 40 as the Fords survived a little bit of an off day by Losty, who had a 41.
   Junior All-Delco Brynn Walker and Jack Owens led the way for Radnor with 37s. Paul Yun had a 40, Kevin Seits had a 41, and Michael Sydnes had a 42 for the Raiders.
   Radnor had another intriguing nonleague encounter last week with Downingtown East at Stonewall. Not sure which course they played at the wonderful golf hideaway in northwest Chester County, but Walker, coming off a spectacular summer that saw her qualify for the both the U.S. Girls Junior and the U.S. Women’s Amateur, fired a sizzling 2-under 33 to lead the Raiders to a 186-199 victory.
   Sydnes also broke par at Stonewall with a 34, Owens had a 38, Yun a 40 and Radnor could take its pick for its fifth scorer as Tom Hamilton, Jacob Liberman and Jack Staples all had 41s.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Thompson falls; Moses leads; Civitella, Kan are winners



   Ray Thompson, the Overbrook Golf Club member and Drexel Hill resident, ran into a buzzsaw in the second round of match play at the U.S. Senior Amateur at Big Canyon Country Club in Newport Beach, Calif. Tuesday in a 5 and 4 setback at the hands of Jack Hall of Savannah, Ga.
   Thompson, much as he did a year ago in reaching the quarterfinals of this event before falling to a familiar Golf Association of Philadelphia rival in Reading’s Chip Lutz, played some very good golf at the Senior Amateur.
   In qualifying Saturday and Sunday, Thompson had rounds of 72 and 69 to finish in a tie for eighth overall at 3-under 141 and easily make the match-play bracket. Thompson, who made an unlikely run to the Philadelphia Amateur semifinals at White Manor Country Club earlier this summer, breezed to a 6 and 4 triumph over Jerry Hudgins of Tyler, Texas in a first-round match Monday.
   But Hall quickly put Thompson in a hole by winning the second and third holes with birdies and the fourth hole with a par. Hall increased his lead to 5-up with pars at six and seven before Thompson got a win at the ninth to head to the back nine 4-down. But Hall restored his five-hole advantage by winning the 10th with a par and maintained that lead the rest of the way. Hall played 1-under-par golf for 14 holes.
   Hall came back Tuesday afternoon with a 3 and 2 victory over Lee Sandlin of Dallas and will square off against Randall Lewis of Alma, Mich. in a quarterfinal match Wednesday morning.
    But Thomspon once again had a strong showing on the national stage, proving that he certainly belongs among the top 50 senior amateur players in the country.

Moses leads the way at Section Championship

   Concord Country Club head pro Mike Moses used his home-course advantage t
o the fullest in the opening round of the Philadelphia Section PGA championship Tuesday.
Moses made eagle on the par-5 finishing hole at Concord to cap a brilliant 6-under 65 that gave him a three-shot lead in event that is being staged at both Concord and Llanerch Country Club.
   Moses will head for Havertown to play his second round at Llanerch Wednesday. The field will be cut following Wednesday’s second round with the remainder of the field teeing it up at Llanerch for Thursday’s final round.
   John Spina, the head of instruction at Philadelphia Cricket Club, had the day’s best score at Llanerch, a 3-under 68 that left him alone in second place, three shots behind Moses. Spina will be especially motivated to stay near the top of the leaderboard as the top finishers in this event will represent the Philadelphia Section at the PGA Professional National Championship, which will be held at the Cricket Club June 21 to 24 of next year.
   I’m not certain at which course the rest of the players near the top of the leaderboard played Tuesday, but Mark Sheftic, the head of instruction of Merion Golf Club, and Aronimink Golf Club assistant pro Nick Knight were among four players tied for third at 2-under 69. And Aronimink head of instruction John Bierkan and M Golf Range teaching pro Stu Ingraham were two of nine players in a tie for seventh at 1-under 70. 

Civitella, Kan are Junior Tour winners

   Aronimink Golf Club’s Billy Civitella had the day’s best score, a sparkling 5-over 75, in finishing atop the 13-to-15 age group in a Philadelphia Section PGA Junior Tour stop Sunday at Greate Bay Country Club in Somers Point, N.J.
   A birdie at the second hole got Civitella going on his way to a strong showing over the 6,417-yard, par-70 Greate Bay layout. He finished a shot ahead of Nikita Romanov of Wilmington, Del.
   Chichester sophomore Caprian Kan, keeping her game sharp in between high school matches, won the girls 13-to-15 age group with an 80. The steady round for Kan featured a birdie ast the par-5 15th hole.
   William Mitchell of Moorestown, N.J. took top honors in the boys 16-to-18 division with a 76. Michael Wolf of Drexel Hill finished 11th with a 94.
   Roy Anderson of Chadds Ford topped the field among the nine-holers with a 44. Billy Civitella’s younger brother Kevin finished third with a 47 and Hayden Smith of Havertown was another shot back in fourth with a 47.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Road to the Cricket Club starts at Concord, Llanerch this week



   The Philadelphia Section PGA could probably do a little better job of filling in part-time blogsters like myself who had to spend an inordinate amount of time trying to jam 14 high school football games in the Saturday print product of the Daily Times on the details, but I’m fairly certain the top club pros in this area will be descending on Delco this week.
   The Philadelphia Section PGA Championship is being staged at Concord Country Club and Llanerch Country Club beginning Tuesday. If the format is like last year, half the field will play Concord Tuesday while the other half plays Llanerch, site of the 1958 PGA Championship. Wednesday, the local pros will play the course they didn’t play Tuesday. Then there will be a cut and, if I recall the conversation I had with Merion Golf Club head of instruction Mark Sheftic at the Philadelphia Open this summer, the final round will be at Llanerch Thursday.
   There’s a lot at stake in this event, not the least of which is the top prize, which was $7,500 a year ago when Applebrook Golf Club head pro Dave Quinn captured the title.
   The top finishers from the Section Championship qualify for the PGA National Professional Championship – better known over the years as the National Club Pro. The top finishers at the National Club Pro earn spots in the PGA Championship. Sheftic has made three trips to professional golf’s fourth major championship via the National Club Pro in recent years and Stu Ingraham, the instructor at the M Golf Range in Newtown Square, has taken that route to the PGA Championship six times in his career.
   It’s always a special deal to make the National Club Pro, but even more so this year because the 2015 event will be staged at the Philadelphia Cricket Club’s historic Wissahickon Course as well as its more modern counterpart, the Militia Hill Course. The National Club Pro will be held June 21 to 24 at the Cricket Club.
   The Section championship will also go a long way toward deciding the season-long Haverford Trust Co. Player of the Year race. Quinn holds a slim lead over Billy Stewart, an assistant pro at The ACE Club who grew up playing at Llanerch and starred scholastically at Malvern Prep and collegiately at Saint Joseph’s. Ingraham, who was 52 when he won Player of the Year honors two years ago, sits at third in this year’s standings.

Trio makes Section’s Hall of Fame

   The Philadelphia Section PGA did announce three additions to its Hall of Fame last week.
The group is led by Leo DeGisi, who has been the head pro at Medford Village Country Club in New Jersey since 1979. DeGisi came up through the caddie ranks at Gulph Mills Golf Club and became an assistant pro there after graduating from Temple. He went on to be an assistant pro at Bala Golf Club before taking over at Medford Village.
   Joning DeGisi in the Section’s 2014 Hall of Fame class are Mike Swisher, the longtime head pro at Lebanon Country Club until his retirement in 2010, and the late Harry “Jake” Obitz Jr., once the head pro at Shawnee Inn & Country Club who gained fame with a popular golf show that he took all over the country.

Stanilka finishes tied for 15th

   The Philadelphia PGA’s Junior Tour met some resistance from Mother Nature in a stop at Five Ponds Golf Club in Warminster Saturday.
   Rain washed out play and the only age group that went official was the 16-to-18 boys division and that was limited to nine holes.
   Top honors went to David Gall of Cinnaminson, N.J. who matched par with a 35. He finished one shot ahead of Jake Fitts of Warrington, who was at 1-over 36.
   Garnet Valley senior Michael Stanilka, keeping his game sharp in between Central League matches, finished tied for 15th with a 44.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Updates: Stasi at UJ.S. Mid-Am; 2009 Walker Cup alums; Sean O'Hair



   Meghan Stasi, the reigning Philadelphia Amateur champion, did not win her fifth U.S. Women’s Mid-Amateur championship this week at Harbour Trees Golf Club in Noblesville, Ind., but she certainly had an eventful week.
   If you checked out my last post, you know that Stasi lives in Oakland Park, Fla., but is a South Jersey native who won seven straight Philly Amateur titles from 1999-2005. She took a trip home this summer and added an eighth title at Wilmington Country Club’s South Course.
   I took her run at a fifth U.S. Mid-Am title up to the quarterfinals, where she was to meet Canadian Christina Proteau Wednesday. What I didn’t know was that Proteau is six months pregnant. Stasi had Proteau 4-down after five holes, but just when it look Stasi was on her way to an easy victory, Proteau came all the way back, making birdie on the 18th hole to square the match.
   Stasi finally won the match with a par on the 19th hole of the match, but she was certainly impressed with her Canadian foe after Stasi reached the U.S. Mid-Am semifinals for the third straight year.
   “I was fortunate with the way it came out,” the 36-year-old Stasi told the USGA website. “She chipped and putted the ball really well. And being six months pregnant, my goodness, that’s awesome.”
   Stasi had to turn right around and take on Margaret Shirley in the semifinals Wednesday, but rain halted the proceedings with Shirley holding a 2-up advantage through nine holes. Shirley finished the job early Thursday, ousting Stasi with a 5 and 4 victory.
   Shirley then defeated Julia Potter of Granger, Ind., 5 and 3, to capture the title, avenging a loss to Potter in the final a year ago.

Walker Cup 2009 alums

   Round 1 of the Tour Championship was five years to the day of the opening ceremony for the 2009 Walker Cup Match at Merion Golf Club’s historic East Course. That opening ceremony marked the eighth anniversary of the September 11 terrorist attacks and that remembrance was a big part of the eve of the first day of the matches.
   In scanning the 30 remaining PGA Tour pros in the field at East Lake, I was struck  by the fact that three members of captain George “Buddy” Marucci’s winning U.S. side at Merion that week are in the field.
   No surprise that the best player on that U.S. team, Rickie Fowler, is at East Lake. He was on the leaderboard at every major championship in 2014 and appears to be approaching the kind of promise he showed as the unquestioned leader of that U.S. team.
   I had pretty much lost track of one of two of Fowler’s Oklahoma State teammates that were on that U.S. side, Morgan Hoffman, and was a little surprised that he’s even at East Lake. A quick check of the Internet revealed all Hoffman did to make it to East Lake was shoot 62-63 on the weekend last week at the BMW Championship at Cherry Hills Country Club to advance to The Tour Championship.
   Hoffman has picked the perfect time to get on a roll after squeaking into the top 125 who are eligible for the postseason at 124 on the FedEx points list.
   The third member of that U.S. team in the Tour Championship Field is former Georgia Tech standout Cameron Tringale. I went out to watch Tringale that weekend in hopes that one of his college teammates, Adam Cohan, the 2002 PIAA champion and three-time Daily Times Player of the Year at Radnor, might be in the gallery. And indeed he was. It was the last chance I’ve had to catch up with Cohan, who was one of the most focused and accomplished high school golfers I’ve ever covered.
   I also chatted with Tringale’s mother as we watched him play that day. She was worried at how he would do at the next level. Five years later, I think he’s doing just fine.

O’Hair may need a victory

   I’m fairly certain that Delco’s adopted son on the PGA Tour, Sean O’Hair, is in serious jeopardy of losing his PGA Tour playing privileges.
   O’Hair, who married Sun Valley All-Delco Jackie Lucas and can often be found working on his game at Concord Country Club when he’s at his West Chester home (Pocopson Township, to be specific) with his wife and their four kids, was relegated to the Web.com Tour Finals series a year ago and grinded it out through four tournaments to earn his way back on the PGA Tour.
  O’Hair has struggled for much of 2014 and he carried those struggles into the Web.com Tour Finals. I’m not positive, but I’m pretty sure the only chance he has left is to win one of these last events. O’Hair opened with a 3-under 68 Thursday in the Nationwide Children’s Hospital Championship at The Ohio State University Golf Club’s Scarlett Course.
   O’Hair is one of those guys you can never really give up on, though. Even if he can’t make it back to the PGA Tour, I’m pretty sure he will still be eligible for the Web.com Tour next year and that’s the best place you can be to earn a few bucks and earn your way back on the Big Tour at the same time.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Philly Am champs Osberg, Stasi representing at U.S. Mid-Ams



   The winners of both the men’s (Golf Association of Philadelphia) and women’s (Women’s Golf Association of Philadelphia) Philadelphia Amateur championships in 2014 made it to match play at their respective U.S. Mid-Amateur championships this week.
   Jeff Osberg, a familiar name in Delco golf circles from his time as a member at Llanerch Country Club, won the Philly Am at White Manor Country Club with a dominating victory over Haverford School product Nelson Hargrove.
   Osberg took a trip up the Northeast Extension this week to tee it up in the U.S. Mid-Amateur Championship held at Saucon Valley Country Club in Bethlehem, site of a couple of U.S. Senior Opens and a U.S. Women’s Open. Osberg fired a 74 at the Weyhill Course and a 71 at the Old Course in qualifying to finish in a tie for 11th and easily make the 64-man match-play field.
   Osberg, who starred scholastically at Owen J. Roberts, was ousted in the first round Monday, falling on the 19th hole to Shane Sigsbee of Las Vegas in a hard-fought up-and-down match. Sigsbee fell to Tom Werkmeister of Kentwood, Mich., 1-up, in the second round. Werkmeister won his third-round match and will tee it up in Wednesday’s quarterfinals.
   Nathan Smith, the four-time U.S. Mid-Amateur champion and member of the winning U.S. side in the Walker Cup Match at Merion’s famed East Course in 2009, lost in the second round Tuesday in 20 holes to Kevin Marsh of Henderson, Nev. It was the second straight year that Smith, the 1994 PIAA champion as a sophomore at Brookville, has lost in the second round to Marsh, who holed a 35-foot birdie putt from off the green to win the match.
   Marsh followed up the dramatic win over Smith by dusting Andy Latkowski of Plainsboro, N.J., 7 and 6 later Tuesday to advance to the quarterfinals.
   Meanwhile, at the U.S. Women’s Mid-Amateur Championship at Harbour Trees Golf Club in Noblesville, Ind. Philadelphia Women’s Amateur champion Meghan Stasi remains alive in her bid for a fifth championship.
   Stasi was known as Meghan Bolger when she won seven straight Philly Amateur titles between 1999 and 2005. After a stint as the golf coach at the University of Mississippi, she married Fort Lauderdale, Fla. restauranter Danny Stasi (they met on a golf course, go figure) and emerged as the dominant women’s mid-am in the country.
   Based in Oakland Park, Fla., Stasi took a trip home and grabbed an eighth Philly Amateur title this summer, beating former Mount St. Joseph standout Emily Gimpel in the final at Wilmington Country Club’s South Course.
   At Harbour Trees this week, Stasi finished in a tie for fourth in qualifying at 151. That earned her a first-round match with another Women’s Golf Association of Philadelphia stalwart, Sunnybrook Golf Club’s Lisa McGill.
   Stasi downed McGill, 4 and 2, Monday. Tuesday, Stasi took out a pair of Texans, beating Kimberly Noonan of Austin, 2-up, and Linda Jeffrey of Austin, 3 and 2.
   Stasi takes on Canadian Christina Proteau in the quarterfinals Wednesday.