Sunday, September 25, 2016

Rogowicz leads Penn State to team title in Nittany Lion Invitational

   When I got a chance to chat with Penn State women’s golf coach Denise St. Pierre on a shuttle headed for the U.S. Women’s Amateur at Rolling Green Golf Club this summer, she said one of her recruiting priorities is simply to try to keep the top scholastic talent in Pennsylvania in Pennsylvania.
   And she was looking forward to the 2016-17 campaign because she had done precisely that. St. Pierre was at Rolling Green to see her top freshman from last year, former Pennsbury standout Jackie Rogowicz, and one of her top recruits for the upcoming season, former Council Rock North standout Madelein Herr, tee it up in the U.S. Women’s Amateur.
   The dividends started to pay off this weekend as the Nittany Lions rolled to the team title at their Nittany Lion Invitational at Penn State’s Blue Course behind Rogowicz, who led the way with a third-place finish in the individual chase.
   Rogowicz opened Saturday’s double round with a sizzling 4-under 68 before backing off a little with rounds of 74 and a 76 in Sunday’s final round, but still finished at 2-over 218, two shots back of individual champion Isabella Rusher of Richmond. Rusher, a sophomore from Salisbury, N.C., had rounds of 70, 74 and 72 for an even-par total of 216.
   Rogowicz was a fixture at the PIAA Tournament at the Heritage Hills Resort during her high school career. She was a two-time runnerup at states and twice won the District One title. After a solid freshman season at Penn State, she nearly made it to match play at Rolling Green, getting knocked out in a 9-for-5 playoff.
   Rogowicz’s opening-round 68 helped Penn State fire a 1-under 287 in the opening round. After slipping back in the second round with a 303, the Nittany Lions posted a 295 Sunday for a 21-over 885 total. Runnerup Columbia was 22 shots back at 907. Penn State’s Big Ten rival Rutgers and Richmond shared third place at 912 and Delaware finished fifth at 922.
   Rutgers’ Ashleigh Greenham, a redshirt sophomore from England, was the runnerup in the individual standings, carding an even-par 72 in the final round to finish a shot back of Rusher at 1-over 217.
   St. Pierre got three more top-10 finishes from her youthful homegrown talent. Sophomore Lauren Waller, who lost in a playoff to Radnor’s Brynn Walker for the PIAA Class AAA title as a senior at Canon-McMillan in 2014, finished fifth at 220, Herr finished seventh at 223 and sophomore Cara Basso, the PIAA Class AA champion as a sophomore at Villa Maria Academy in 2012, finished in a tie for 10th at 225.
   Herr, who claimed the District One title as a senior last fall, opened with a 3-under 69 Saturday. Basso finished up with an even-par 72 Sunday.
   St. Pierre doesn’t mind grabbing a recruit from out of state. Rounding out Penn State’s team entrants in the Nittany Lion Invitational was Ashri Dhruval, a freshman from Katy, Texas. Dhruval finished in a tie for 23rd at 232, saving her best for last as she posted a final-round 75.
   Among a group of Nittany Lions who competed as individuals, Kate Granahan, a graduate student from Allentown, finished in a tie for eighth overall, posting Penn State’s best individual score Sunday, a 1-under 71 that gave her a 224 total.
   Megan McLean, a freshman from Lebanon, N.J., matched Dhruva’s total of 232 to finish in a tie for 23rd. Kamerine Taylor, a sophomore from Dublin, Ohio, finished in a tie for 31st at 235. And Meaghan Coleman, a senior from The Woodlands, Texas, finished 55th at 252.

Butler claims Junior Tour victory at Spring Hollow

   Thomas Butler of Telford won a scorecard playoff with Caleb Ryan of Norristown after both players carded a 3-over 73 to give Butler the victory in the 16-to-18 division in a Philadelphia Section PGA Junior Tour stop Saturday at Spring Hollow Golf Club in East Vincent Township.
   Butler had a birdie on the par-5 13th hole, which helped him card a 36 on the back nine and that proved to be the difference in the match of cards. Dan DeRita of Media was another shot back with a 74 over the 6,006-yard, par-70 Spring Hollow layout to finish alone in third place.
   Andrew Koh of Dresher took fourth with a 76, Alex Golland of Wynnewood was fifth with a 77 and Matthew Law of Yardley placed sixth with an 80. Alexander Cloak of Oley and Jason Podgorski of Flemington, N.J. shared seventh place, each carding an 81, Tyler Teague of Paoli was ninth with an 85 and Jerry Haftmann of Springfield rounded out the top 10 by finishing alone in 10th with an 86.
   Ryan D’Ariano of West Chester matched the day’s lowest score with a 3-over 73 that gave him the title in the 13-to-15 division. D’Ariano had three birdies on his card. Matthew Lafond of Blue Bell and Joshua Ryan of Norristown shared runnerup honors as they tied for second at 75. Pretty strong showing for the Ryan family.
   Jordan Pick of Sugarloaf took fourth with a 76, Dyan Gooneratne of Plymouth Meeting was fifth with a 77, Patrick Laushell of Morrisville was sixth with an 80 and Jack Cooley of Chadds Ford was seventh with an 81.
   James Quinn of Radnor and John Wang of Wilmington, Del. shared eighth place, each carding an 84. Rounding out the top 10 were Kevin Motil of Sewell, N.J., Peter Banfe of Moorestown, N.J. and Stephane de Brechard of Brooklyn, N.Y., all of whom finished in a tie for 10th at 85.
   Sera McClintock of West Chester was the only entrant in the girls 16-to-18 division, so her 117 was good for a win.
   Maya Torpey of Malvern bested Eden Richmond of Princeton, N.J. in a scorecard playoff to win the 13-to-15 division after both carded a 90. Torpey had a 44 on the back nine, which proved to be the difference in the match of cards. Kate Green of Bryn Mawr finished third with a 108.
   Benjamin Saggers of West Chester topped the field among the nine-holers with a 4-over 39. A stretch of five straight pars on the front nine at Spring Hollow helped Saggers claim the win. Aaron Skii, also of West Chester, was the runnerup with a 42.
   Nicholas Gross of Downingtown finished third with a 43, Megan Adelman of Bryn Mawr and Ajeet Bagga of Blue Bell ended up in a tie for fourth at 44, Sydney Yermish of Wynnewood was sixth with a 45 and Ryan Garvey of Media was seventh with a 48.
   Mark Heinz of Huntingdon Valley finished eighth with a 52, Luca Gherardi of Hammonton, N.J. was ninth with a 56 and Luke Fazio of Pottstown rounded out the top 10 by finishing alone in 10th with a 59.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Ingraham beats everybody but Gibbs at Philadelphia Section PGA Championship

   WHITEMARSH – Stu Ingraham’s two-and-a-half foot par putt slid into the hole to complete a 1-under 69 in the final round of the Philadelphia Section PGA Championship Thursday at Philadelphia Cricket Club’s Wissahickon Course, a classic A.W. Tillinghast design.
   At 56, Ingraham’s 6-under 206 total beat everybody in the field with the exception of runaway winner Jordan Gibbs, an assistant pro at Gulph Mills Golf Club whose brilliant 4-under 66 gave him a winning total of 11-under 201. More on Gibbs later.
   Last year Ingraham, the head of instruction at the M Golf Range in Newtown Square, co-wrote a book with Bob Ockenfuss titled “Mind Game Discover Your Golf Identity,” but his level of play in 2016 has surprised even him.
   “I’m having my best year ever in golf, period,” Ingraham said after having his picture taken with the 11 other Philadelphia Section pros who earned a trip to the Sunriver Resort in Sunriver Ore. next June for the PGA Professional Championship. “My game has been off the charts this year. People ask me, ‘how can you go out there against these kids who are hitting it 30 yards past you all day?’
“It isn’t about your golf swing, it isn’t about ball flight. It’s about getting the ball in the hole. It’s about getting it done.”
   After years of anchoring the long putter, Ingraham was forced to try something different with anchoring banned beginning in January. He went to a claw grip and his season got off to a promising start when he made the cut in the Senior PGA Championship at The Golf Club at Harbor Shores in Benton Harbor, Mich., a PGA Champions tour major.
   But it is this late part of summer that has defined Ingraham’s success in recent years.
   Last month he bested a field of the Philadelphia Section’s top senior pros to win the Philadelphia PGA Senior Professional Championship. That earns him a trip to the PGA Senior Professional Championship Nov. 17 to 20 at the PGA Golf Club in Port St. Lucie, Fla. Another high finish there and Ingraham is right back in the Senior PGA Championship, which will be held next spring Trump National Golf Club in Potomac Falls, Va.
   And with his runnerup finish Thursday at the Cricket Club, Ingraham makes the field for the PGA Professional Championship at Sunriver. The two national Club Pro events will bring the total of national PGA events in which Ingraham has teed it up to 28.
   “I’ve played in 10 major championships and made the cut in six of them, that’s pretty good for a club pro,” Ingraham said. “I’ve given more than 21,000 lessons. I’m still playing at a high level because I manage my game as well as any player in America.”
   Two other Section seniors will do the same double that Ingraham will be doing, both the Senior Club Pro at the PGA Golf Club in November and the National Club Pro at Trump National next spring.
   Applebrook Golf Club head pro Dave McNabb, who was the defending champion at the Cricket Club, finished a shot back of Ingraham Thursday at 5-under 206 after posting a final-round 71 over the 7,119-yard, par-70 Wissahickon Course. And Radnor Valley Country Club head pro George Forster finished in a tie for 11th at 1-over 213 to grab one of the final two tickets to Sunriver. Forster has played in 11 PGA Champions Tour majors, including that Senior PGA at Harbor Shores last May.
   “Every year, I’m ready, I expect that this will be the year when I finally start to slow down, when my body starts to tell me, OK, you can’t do this anymore,” Ingraham said. “But this year I crossed even that bridge and I’m playing the best golf I’ve ever played.
   “I realize that it’s my experience that’s carrying me. It’s about controlling your nerves, controlling situations. You have to know how to score.”
   There was one young club pro, at 28 exactly half Ingraham’s age, who nobody in the field had an answer for Thursday. Gibbs, a Princeton, N.J. native who played collegiately at Rutgers, opened the tournament with a 5-under 67 at the Cricket Club’s Militia Hill Course Tuesday, added a 2-under 68 at the Wissahickon Course Wednesday and kept the pedal to the metal with his final-round 66.
   “I came in here really confident, I’ve been playing really well for a while,” said Gibbs as he held a crystal vase with his photo-op first-place check for $8,000 not far away. “I’ve been hitting it so good, driving it long and straight, hitting it close to the hole, making some putts. I’ve been telling them in the shop at Gulph Mills I thought I could win this.”
   McNabb, playing in the same group as Gibbs, trailed by only a shot heading into the final round. He could only watch in admiration as Gibbs put up five birdies on the front nine to pull away from him and the rest of the field.
   “The way I look at it, I had a front-row seat to one of the best rounds in the history of the Section championship,” McNabb said. “He just kept knocking down flagsticks and making putts. The whole thing was impressive.”
   Gibbs had only played the Wissahickon Course once before this week, having teed it up in last summer’s Philadelphia Open. But it seemed to be a perfect fit for him.
   “It’s such an aesthetically pleasing course, you get up on every tee and you’re excited to hit it,” Gibbs said. “I guess it did fit my eye this week. I was driving it long and straight and that was leaving me short irons in. If you’re hitting longer irons in, it’s harder to get it close and the greens are so undulating, it puts a lot more pressure on your putting.”
   Philadelphia Country Club head pro Scott Reilly and John Pillar of the Country Club at Woodloch Springs finished in a tie for fourth, two shots back of McNabb at 3-under 209. Reilly carded a 2-over 72 in the final round while Pillar finished up with a 1-under 69.
   Tony Perla, an assistant at the Cricket Club who had a final-round 69, headed a group of four players tied for sixth at 1-under 211.
   Joining him at that figure were Mike Molino of The Country Club of Scranton, who fired a 2-under 68 in the final round, Alex Knoll of Bethlehem Golf Club, who matched par with a final-round 70 and Michael Little of Lookaway Golf Club, who finished up with a 1-over 71.
   Forster, who had a final-round 73, was joined at 1-over 213 by another Cricket Club pro, John Spina, who matched par at the Wissahickon Course with a 70 as they nailed down the final two tickets to Sunriver.