Sunday, November 29, 2015

Radnor's Walker, Kim, Sydnes head All-Central first team

   Three members of Radnor’s PIAA Class AAA championship team headline the 2015 All-Central golf first-team selections as voted by the league coaches.
   Senior Brynn Walker, who capped her brilliant scholastic career by winning her second straight PIAA Class AAA girls title, junior Gabby Kim, who claimed the PIAA Class AAA East Regional girls crown, and junior Michael Sydnes led the Raiders to a perfect run through the Central League followed by a victory at the District One Tournament at Turtle Creek Golf Club and a dramatic one-shot win over Peters Township in the state tournament at the Heritage Hills Golf Resort.
   They are joined on the first team by Garnet Valley junior Jimmy Gillespie, Marple Newtown senior Joey DelFranco, Haverford senior Frankie McVeigh, Springfield senior Josh Luchon and the Conestoga contingent of Ryan Tall, Jack Mitchell, Alex Cook and Samantha Yao.
   Walker, a North Carolina commit pictured at right on the first day of the District One Tournament at Gilbertsville Golf Club, had rounds of 74 and 76 for a 150 total at Heritage Hills that gave her a three-shot victory at the PIAA Tournament. She came back two days later with a 73 as Radnor put up a 312 total in the team competition that was a shot better than Peters Township.
   Kim fired a 2-over 74 at Golden Oaks Golf Club to beat Walker and Coatesville’s Sammie Staudt by a shot and claim the East Regional title. Her 83 in the team competition at Heritage Hills was the final counter in Radnor’s state championship bid.
   Sydnes bounced back from a bitterly disappointing first day at the District One Tournament at Turtle Creek when a 77 left him with a lot to do to advance individually to the East Regional. An even-par 72 on Day 2 left him a frustrating one shot short of reaching the regional, but was crucial in leading the Raiders to the district team title that qualified them for the state tournament.
   Sydnes contributed a 77 to the team effort that resulted in the state title at Heritage Hillls.
   Sydnes shared the top spot with Luchon in the Central League Tournament at Turtle Creek as both carded 1-over 73s. Luchon was awarded the title on a match of cards. McVeigh finished alone in third at the Central tourney with a 74 and DelFranco, Gillespie and Radnor freshman Jake Calamaro were another shot back in a tie for fourth at 75.
   Gillespie made the cut at the district tournament on the number with a 76, but failed to advance to regionals with a second-round 79.
   Radnor’s Calamaro, another key figure in the Raiders’ state title run, heads the All-Central second team. He is joined by teammates David Colleran and Caitlin Bullock, Ridley’s Greg Myers, Upper Darby’s Mike Wolf, Penncrest’s Jessica Davis, Strath Haven’s Lauren Butscher and the Harriton foursome of Jack Hirsh, Ryan Keefe, Nick Wert and Dom DiLoreto.
   Earning honorable mention were: Radnor’s Chris Austen and Conor Rinehart, Haverford’s Emmett Fox, Matt Druce, Matt Speers and Brendan Boas, Marple Newtown’s Matt Deacon, Springfield’s Baun twins, Dillon and Derrick, Strath Haven’s Ben Newlon and Chris Byrd, Penncrest’s T.J. May, Dillon Armstrong and Sarah McCabe, Conestoga’s James Goodwin and Mike Hamilton and Harriton’s Kyle Koziol.

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Remembering Chris Fuga's love for the game at Llanerch

   There’s always a lot going on on the first day of the Philadelphia Amateur. There’s 120 or so golfers playing two rounds at two different golf course and at the end of the day, weather permitting, there will be 32 of the Philadelphia area’s very best players advancing to match play.
   So when you first arrive, you’re just staring at the scoreboard trying to figure out what’s going on. That’s where I first met Stephen Giampietro on Day 1 at Llanerch Country Club last summer. He was asking if anybody knew about where Chris Fuga would be on the course at that point. As the Golf Association of Philadelphia official manning the scoreboard tried to figure out about where Fuga would be, I checked his name on the scoreboard and it listed him as being an Overbrook member.
   The name rang a bell from covering high school golf and GAP events, but he was St. Pius X in high school and Phoenixville Country Club, so he wasn’t “mine.” That’s the way you think when you’re covering an event like that for a paper like the Daily Times. OK, he’s Overbrook now, he’s on my radar.
   I asked the gentleman how long Fuga had been at Overbrook. I was guessing it was his dad, but I later learned he was Fuga’s uncle. He said, “Do you know about Chris?”
   “No, tell me,” the nosy reporter answered.
   I listened, I’m sure increasingly wide-eyed, as his uncle told me that Chris was near death this time last year after being diagnosed with leukemia. That he had a bone-marrow transplant at Temple’s Fox Chase Cancer Center in August. He had shot 73 in the morning at Rolling Green. He was in the process of shooting 2-under 69 in the afternoon at Llanerch. It was 90 degrees. He was 10 months removed from a bone marrow transplant. Are you kidding me?
   “In the newspaper business, we call that a story,” I said to Giampietro when he finished.
   And what a story it turned out to be as Fuga finished tied for third in qualifying and would make it all the way to the semifinals before falling to eventual champion Cole Berman, the three-time Daily Times Player of the Year at The Haverford School.
   Which is why my heart sank last week when, in my regular scanning of the Internet to see how former Delco high school kids are doing in college, I discovered that Chris Fuga had died Oct. 30 at age 24.
   It turns out that Fuga had fallen ill again in the hours following his loss to Berman in the Philly Am semifinals. The leukemia had returned  and he would spend the rest of June and most of July in the hospital and have another bone marrow transplant.
   But Fuga bounced back again. He actually was doing well until he was hit with an infection the Sunday before Halloween, an infection his immune system, weakened by all the anti-cancer drugs he had taken, could not fight off. By Friday he was gone.
   I talked to his dad Mark last week, his emotions still understandably raw.
   “He was talking about going back to Coker (College) for the spring, the last time I talked to him he was like, ‘It’s OK dad, I got this, I’ll be OK,’” Mark Fuga said.
   Chris Fuga had been one of the top players at Coker, in South Carolina, before missing the 2014-2015 season while recovering from the first bone marrow transplant. At the Philly Am, he was planning to go back for his senior season.
   Oscar Mestre, a longtime Overbrook member, had invited Fuga to gain membership through the club’s President’s Pick scholarship. That’s how he ended up helping Overbrook reach the final four of Division AA, the top tier in GAP’s Team Matches, in the spring.
   At Llanerch, he couldn’t have been more complimentary of the way in which he had been accepted at Overbrook.
   “It was a six-and-a-half hour wake,” Mark Fuga said. “The president of Coker came up here with a posthumous degree. People came from Overbrook. People came from everywhere. Chris never wanted to be the center of attention. It was an amazing tribute to him the way everybody came to pay their respects.”
   One of the things that struck me about Chris Fuga that week at Llanerch was how much he enjoyed just being there. The Philadelphia Amateur, he told me, was his favorite tournament. He had reached the quarterfinals two years earlier at Aronimink.
   And there he was at Llanerch in the semifinals. He ran into the only person more determined that he was that week in Berman. And even then, Fuga won the 10th and 11th holes, to take a 1-up lead on Berman before the three-time GAP Junior Player of the Year surged back to win the match, 2 and 1.
   There was no shortage of story lines at Llanerch that week for the guy covering the tournament for the Delco Daily Times. First of all, it was Llanerch, one of three Delco courses to stage a major professional championship, the 1958 PGA Championship, along with Aronimink (1962 PGA Championship) and the five U.S. Opens at Merion’s East Course.
   There was the dream matchup in the second round of match play between Michael McDermott, who grew up at Llanerch, and Jeff Osberg, a former Llanerch member. It was a tremendous match between the two best mid-am players in the Philadelphia area for the last decade-plus and their Llanerch connection had quite a few of the membership sneaking away from  work early on a Wednesday to catch some of it.
   And there was the final between Berman and Michael Davis, who were only a year removed from the Inter-Ac League battles I had covered for four years with Berman at Haverford School and Davis at Malvern Prep.
   I asked Chris Fuga’s dad for a picture to add to this post and it is that same smile that I remember that week at Llanerch. He loved the Philly Am because he knew that if you were good enough to reach the semifinals in this tournament, you were a player. You could play.
   “Anybody, 1 to 32, is good enough to win this once match play starts,” he said.
   He loved the game and he was very thankful that week that Dr. Henry Chi Hang Fung at the Temple Fox Chase Cancer Center’s Bone Marrow Transplant program had given him a reprieve and he was going to make the most if it.
   It’s Thanksgiving week and we always like to talk about what we’re thankful for. And I guess I’m thankful that Chris Fuga came along and reminded me how much I love the game. Just like he did.
   The Philly Am is at Merion next year. Chris Fuga would have loved it.

Monday, November 16, 2015

A victory for Lees and two strong showings for Curran on Junior Tour

   Agnes Irwin sophomore Kaitlyn Lees racked up 10 pars in a Philadelphia Section PGA Junior Tour stop at Linfield National Golf Club in cold, blustery conditions Saturday to capture top honors in the 16-to-18 division.
   Lees finished with an 81 over the 5,479-yard, par-71 Linfield National layout to finish eight shots clear of runnerup Sofia Amoroso of West Chester.
   Alyson Rentschler of Hamburg topped the 13-to-15 division with a 96.
   Jonanthan Lumley of Royersford bested the field in the boys 13-to-15 division with a 77.  Andrew Curran, a Media resident and Malvern Prep freshman, posted an 80 to finish in a tie for second with Carson Bacha of York and Alex Mulrooney of Wilmington, Del.
   Hayden Rousselle of Doylestown had the day’s best score with a 5-over 76 in capturing the 16-to-18 division. Radnor junior Jacob Liberman finished in a tie for sixth with an 83.
Hayden Smith of Havertown finished 13th with a 94 and Aidan Vorhees of Broomall was 20th with a 113.
   Joshua Ryan of Norristown topped the nine-holers with a 42.
   It was another strong showing by Curran a day later as temperatures warmed a little Sunday for the final Junior Tour stop of the fall at Ramblewood Country Club in Mount Laurel, N.J.
   Curran carded an 8-over 80 on the 6,538-yard, par-72 Ramblewood layout to finish tied atop the 13-to-15 division with Alec Ryden of Moorestown, N.J. Ryden was awarded the top spot in a match of cards.
   Andrew Miller of Bryn Mawr finished in a tie for fourth with an 84.
   Matthew Rizzo of Manahawkin, N.J. had the day’s best score, a 2-over 74, to win the 16-to-18 division.
   Casey Oppenheimer of Conshohocken won the girls 16-to-18 division with a 96, Eden Richmond of Princeton, N.J. won the 13-to-15 division with a 101 and Nicholas Gross of Downingtown won a match of cards with Darren Nolan of Glenside for top honors among the nine-holers after each fired a 45.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Marmorstein finishes first in Junior Tour stop at Mainland

   Notre Dame sophomore Brianna Marmorstein was a winner in the 16-to-18 division in a Philadelphia Section PGA Junior Tour stop Sunday at Mainland Golf Course in Harleysville, Mongtomery County.
Marmorstein had six pars on the tight 5,132-yard, par-70 Mainland layout for an 89.
   In the boys 13-to-15 division, Media resident Andrew Curran, a freshman on Malvern Prep’s Inter-Ac League championship team this fall, placed fourth with a 77. Stephen Lorenzo of Lower Gwynedd won the division with a sparkling 1-over 71 that included four birdies.
   Quinn Guzman of Souderton won the 16-to-18 division with a 3-over 73. Savanna Haas of Pottstown was the girls 13-to-15  winner with a 98. And Nicholas Gross of Downingtown bested the field of nine-holers with a 42.
   Saturday, the Junior Tour stopped at Berkshire Country Club in Berks County and Radnor junior Jacob Liberman carded an 81 to finish third in the 16-to-18 division. Radnor sophomore Daniel Bullock finished in a tie for fifth with an 85 over the 6,256-yard, par-72 Berkshire layout.
Ryan Tall of Colllegeville topped the 16-to-18 field with a 78.
   Radnor senior Caitlin Bullock finished third in the girls 16-to-18 division with a 116, although she bounced back from a bad start with a back-nine 49. Samantha Fritzinger won division honors with a 90.
   Media’s Curran also teed it up at Berkshire and finished 11th in the boys 13-to-15 division with an 89. Alec Stern of Bryn  Mawr finished 12th with a 93. Carson Bacha of York topped the 13-to-15 field with a 75, the day’s best score overall.
   Alyson Rentschler of Hamburg won the girls 13-to-15 division with a 93. John Olson of Boalsburg best the nine-holers with a 43.

Saturday, November 7, 2015

Susanin has leading role at Dartmouth and some familar names at Landfall

   It’s been a pretty busy fall on the links and I haven’t been able to keep up with some of the college golfers, both former Delco standouts and some of the District One players they competed against, so I picked a couple of events to spotlight how some of the top female players in the area fared this fall.
   It was an interesting fall for Radnor All-Delco Jamie Susanin, a junior at Dartmouth. I’m certain Susanin was being kept abreast of developments at home where Brynn Walker, Susanin’s teammate on Radnor’s 2012 PIAA girls team champions, won her second straight state individual crown and helped the Raiders win the Class AAA state boys team title.
   Susanin found herself a veteran on a team suddenly filled with talented youngsters. I’m guessing she took to a leadership role in much the same way she did when she was the clear leader of the Radnor girls team that won that 2012 PIAA title.
   Susanin had a solid showing at the Rutgers Women’s Invitational , finishing tied for 16th individually with rounds of 75, 79 and 82 at the Rutgers University Golf Course for a 236 total.
   Susanin helped the Big Green finish fifth overall at 941, three shots back of fourth-place Xavier and eight shots clear of host Rutgers in sixth. Dartmouth had rounds of 315, 309 and 317.
   Julie Calbi, a freshman, led the way for Dartmouth, finishing in a tie for third with rounds of 81, 71 and 74 for a 226 total. Isabelle Kane, a sophomore, finished tied for 12th with rounds of 76, 78 and 80 for a 234 total and two other freshmen, Hana Bradshaw (83-81-86) and Catharine Roddy (86-83-81) finished in the group tied for 45th at 250.
   Individual medalist Andrea Sloane (75-74-73—222) led Delaware to the team title as the Blue Hens registered rounds of 302, 304 and 317 for a 923 total that was 10 shots clear of runnerup Brown.
   A couple of weeks earlier at the Dartmouth Invitational at Hanover Country Club, Susanin headed the Dartmouth B team to a seventh-place finish in the team standings.
   Meanwhile, the youngsters populating the A team won the team title as Kane (73-73—146) placed third, Calbi (73-76—149) finished tied for fourth, Bradshaw (71-79—150) was tied for sixth, Roddy (80-76--156) was tied for 13th and Angela Zhang (77-82—159), yet another freshman, was tied for 21st.
   It added up to sparkling rounds of 294 and 304 for a 598 total that was 18 shots clear of runnerup Hartford at 616.
   Dartmouth’s B team was led by sophomore Jessica Kittelberger, who had rounds of 80 and 76 and finished tied for 13th with, among others, her teammate Roddy. Susanin had rounds of 77 and 80 to finish tied for 16th as the B teamers put up rounds of 319 and 318 for a 637 total.
   Senior Lily Morrison (77-82—159) ended up in a tie for 21st and junior Tara Simmons (85-80—165) was tied for 37th .
   With Susanin helping to mentor all that young talent, Dartmouth will be tough in the spring.
   There were some very familiar names when many of the top women’s programs descended on the Country Club of Landfall’s Dye Course for the Landfall Tradition Oct. 23 and 24 in Wilmington, N.C.
Lauren Waller, the Canon-McMillan product who lost to Radnor’s Walker in a playoff at the 2014 PIAA Class AAA Tournament, is having a breakout freshman season for Denise St. Pierre at Penn State.
   Waller had rounds of 75, 72 and 68 to finish alone in ninth place at the Landfall with a 215 total. She helped the Nittany Lions finish 13th in the powerhouse 18-team field with rounds of 305, 302 and 285 for an 892 total.
   Another of St. Pierre’s prized freshmen, Jackie Rogowicz, a two-time District One champion at Pennsbury, had rounds of 77, 77 and 72 to finish tied for 47th at 226. Although she didn’t make the trip to Landfall, Cara Basso, a PIAA Class AA champion at Villa Maria, is another freshman on the Penn State roster. And they’ll be joined by this year’s District One champion, Madelein Herr of Council Rock North.
   While powerhouse Duke cruised to the team title with an 855 total, surprising Notre Dame finished second with an 866. And followers of District One golf aren’t the least bit surprised to learn that a resurgence in women’s golf for the Fighting Irish coincides with the arrival of Isabella DiLisio, the 2013 PIAA Class AAA champion and 2014 Pennsylvania Women’s Amateur champion.
   DiLisio was threatening to win the individual title at Landfall when she opened up with rounds of 67 and 70. She fell back with a final-round 84, but her 221 total left her in a tie for 35th. The Irish were led by senior captain Talia Campbell (72-76-71) and freshman Maddie Rose Hamilton (77-74-68), who finished tied for 19th at 219.
   But the runnerup finish for Notre Dame capped a fall season that coach Susan Holt characterized as the best in the program’s history and DiLisio was right in the middle of it.
   Another familiar name at Landfall was that of Wake Forest sophomore Erica Herr, a back-to-back PIAA champion at Council Rock North.  Herr had rounds of 74, 78 and 76 to finish in a tie for 53rd at 228 and help the Demon Deacons finish seventh at 886.
   And after following the fortunes of Purdue the last four years during the outstanding run of Chichester product Aurora Kan there, I can’t completely let go of the Boilers. They finished a shot back of Wake Forest in eighth at 867 with rounds of 296, 300 and 291.
   Kan led Purdue to the brink of the final eight and match-play competition at last spring’s NCAA Tournament and the Boilermakers will be a force before it’s all said and done in the 2015-16 season. They were led by Anna Appert Lund, their senior from Sweden who has no doubt inherited the leadership mantle from Kan.
   Appert Lund finished in a tie for 10th at Landfall with rounds of 70, 77 and 70 for a 217 total and August Kim, the talented junior from St. Augustine, Fla., was a shot back of her teammate with rounds of 74, 74 and 70 for a 218 total that left her in a tie for 16th.