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Sunday, May 28, 2017

Vanderbilt ahead of the pack in NCAA Championship at Rich Harvest Farms

   Vanderbilt, the Southeastern Conference champion that is No. 4 in the latest Golfstat rankings, stormed to the top of the leaderboard Sunday as the field was cut in half after three rounds of the NCAA Championship at Rich Harvest Farms in Sugar Grove, Ill.
   The Commodores, with Matthias Schwab, a senior from Austria, leading the way, carded an 8-under 280 and stands at 18-under 846 heading into the final battle to determine the eight teams that will compete in match play for the national championship.
   Three teams – No. 1 Southern California, No. 16 UNLV and No. 17 Oklahoma – are tied for second, a shot behind Vanderbilt at 17-under 847. Southern Cal matched Vanderbilt’s 8-under 280 total, UNLV, which had held the team lead after two rounds, carded a 3-under 285, and Oklahoma had a 4-under 284.
   Big Ten champion Illinois, ranked eighth, is alone in fifth place at 14-under 850 after a solid 3-under 285. No. 3 Oklahoma State is sixth at 12-under 852 after a 5-under 283. No. 5 Baylor and No. 18 Virginia are tied for seventh at 9-under 855. The Bears posted a 1-under 287 while the Cavaliers came in with a 4-under 284.
   Some of the other survivors of Sunday’s cut are eminently capable of moving into match play, including No. 6 LSU, which is 10th at 858, No. 14 Texas, the Big 12 champion which is 11th at 859, and defending national champion Oregon, the Pac-12 champion ranked ninth which is 13th at 865.
   And how about a shout for the last survivor of the cut, No. 47 UCF, which is 15th at 7-over 871.   seeded eighth into the College Grove Regional off a fourth-place finish at The American Championship, the Knights proceeded to win the regional team title. Only 15 teams will still get to tee it up on Memorial Day at Rich Harvest Farms and UCF is one of them.
   One of the teams that UCF beat out is No. 2 Stanford, which just could not get it going at Rich Harvest Farms. The Cardinal needed something special Sunday, but could only muster a 299 that left them at 15-over 879.
   Maverick McNealy, a senior from Portola Valley, Calif. and the No. 2 player in the World Amateur Golf Ranking (WAGR), finished his brilliant collegiate career with a 2-over 74 that left him tied for 76th at 221.
   Twelve shots behind Stanford, Penn State had to be pretty satisfied to finish tied for 24th at 27-over 891. The No. 48 Nittany Lions finished up with an 8-over 296. I’m not sure Greg Nye felt like he had a top-25 team on his hands when the season began last fall, but that’s what he ended up with and all five players who teed it up at Rich Harvest Farms should be back. More on how the individuals fared a little later.
   Vanderbilt’s Schwab, No. 6 in the WAGR, is tied for third in the individual standings as he added a second straight 2-under 70 for a 9-under 207 total.
   Theo Humphrey, a junior from Greenwich, Conn., and John Augenstein, a freshman from Owensboro, Ky., each bettered Schwab by a shot with a 3-under 69 and are tied for 22nd and 24th, respectively. Humphrey is at 4-under 212 while Augenstein, the unlikely hero of the Commodores’ match-play run to the first SEC title in program history, is at 3-under 213.
   Also for the Commodores, Patrick Martin, a sophomore from Birmingham, Ala., is tied for 50th at 1-over 217 after matching par with a 72, and Will Gordon, a sophomore from Davidson, N.C., is tied for 95th at 223 after a 1-over 73, which Vanderbilt had the luxury of tossing.
   Texas’ Scottie Scheffler, a junior from Dallas, has been boringly consistent as he grinded out his third straight 4-under 68 to lead the individual standings at 12-under 204. He leads an immensely talented field by two shots.
   Mississippi’s Braden Thornberry, competing as an individual, is in second place at 10-under 206 after carding a 3-under 69.
   Sharing third with Schwab at 9-under 207 is Illinois’ Dylan Meyer, a junior from Evansville, Ind. and No. 4 in the WAGR. Meyer carded a 3-under 69 Sunday.
   Penn State was led by Ryan Davis of Berkeley Heights, N.J. who capped a really strong freshman season with a second straight 1-under 71 that left him tied for 59th at 2-over 218. Davis just kept getting better as the spring wore on.
   Junior Cole Miller, a former Northwestern Lehigh standout, capped his breakout season with a 2-over 74 to stand tied for 66th at 3-over 219. Miller, the reigning Pennsylvania Amateur champion, had a bit of a letdown at Rich Harvest Farms after his stunning individual win at the Washington Regional, but that takes nothing away from a year that was, at times, spectacular, never more so than his remarkable 7-under 206 finish at Aldarra Golf Club in Sammamish.
   Sophomore JD Hughes, a former Carlisle standout, finished tied for 127th at 229 after a 78 and Charles Huntzinger, a sophomore from Duluth, Ga., and Alec Bard, a freshman from New Hartford, N.Y., were among the group tied for 132nd at 230. Huntzinger is a better player than the one who finished up with a 77. Bard, on the other hand, gained some valuable experience at the national championship and his closing 2-over 74 was absolutely a counter.
   You think there’s no golf on TV for Memorial Day? How about round 4 of the NCAA Championship when the individual champion is crowned and the eight survivors into match play are determined. It starts at 4 p.m. Eastern on The Golf Channel.

Miller, Kan team up to earn spot in match play at U.S. Four-Ball Championship

   The all-star Pennsylvania duo of Katie Miller and Aurora Kan finished in a tie for 15th Sunday in qualifying to earn a spot in match play in the U.S. Women’s Amateur Four-Ball Championship at The Dunes Golf & Beach Club in Myrtle Beach, S.C.
   Miller of Jeannette and Kan of Boothwyn added a 1-under-par 71 to their opening-round 69 for a 5-under 139 total. Miller was the PIAA champion at Hempfield Area in 1999, 2000 and 2002, one just two girls to win three state crowns. Kan captured the 2010 PIAA title as a senior at Chichester after finishing second the previous two years.
   Miller, who starred collegiately at North Carolina, and Kan, who had a standout career at Purdue, birdied the seventh and 15th holes before finishing up with a bogey at the 18th on the 6,296-yard, par-72 Robert Trent Jones Sr. layout. That sounds like they couldn’t get many putts to fall, which is just as well. You want to save those putts for match play.
   Miller and Kan will take on the pair of Kathleen Gallagher and Kendall Griffin in the opening round of match play at 10:18 Monday morning. Gallagher of Greenwood, Miss. just completed her sophomore season at LSU. Griffin of Sebring, Fla. will join Gallagher in Baton Rouge in the fall. Griffin was a quarterfinalist at the U.S. Girls’ Junior Championship last summer at Ridgewood Country Club in Paramus, N.J.
   Gallagher and Griffin also finished in the group of four teams tied for 15th at 5-under 139 along with Miller and Kan. Gallagher and Griffin had rounds of 70 and 69.
   Three teams shared medalist honors at 12-under 132, led by the Texas teens who are defending their title at The Dunes, Hailee Cooper and Kaitlyn Papp. Papp will join the Texas golf program this fall and Cooper will follow her to Austin a year later. Cooper and Papp fired a pair of 66s in qualifying.
The Jersey girls on a Furman team that was ranked in the top 10 in the country all spring, Alice Chen, a junior from Princeton, and Taylor Totland, a senior from Tinton Falls, matched Cooper and Papp shot for shot with a pair of 66s.
   Those two teams were joined by a pair of players from a Colorado team that was an NCAA Regional qualifier out of the powerful Pac-12, Brittany Fan, a junior from Pearl City, Hawaii, and Esther Lee, a senior from Los Alamitos, Calif. Fan and Lee fired a sparkling 8-under 64 to get a share of medalist honors at 12-under 132.
   Newly crowned NCAA champion Monica Vaughn, the Arizona State senior from Reedsport, Ore., and Bailey Tardy, a sophomore at Georgia from Peachtree Corners, Ga., were another shot behind the three co-medalists at 11-under 133. Vaughn and Tardy, who were teammates on the 2016 U.S. Curtis Cup team that fell to Great Britain & Ireland, teamed up for a 7-under 65 Sunday after opening up with a 68.
   The opening-round opponent for Fan and Lee will be four-time U.S. Mid-Amateur champion Meghan Stasi, a South Jersey native and an eight-time Women’s Golf Association of Philadelphia Amateur champion, and Dawn Woodard.
   Stasi of Fort Lauderdale, Fla. and Woodard of Greenville, S.C., who have partnered in each of the first three editions of the Four-Ball, matched par with a 72 after opening with a 69. Their 3-under 141 total enabled them to avoid a playoff that saw four pairs battling for the last two spots in match play after finishing tied at 2-under 142.
   Speaking of playoffs, in the men’s Four-Ball Championship at another of America’s great golf playgrounds, the Pinehurst Resort and Country Club in the Village of Pinehurst, N.C., the Huntingdon Valley Country Club duo of Sean Seese and Ben Smith are involved in an 8-for-6 affair that will spill over to Monday morning.
   Seese, a former La Salle High and St. Joseph’s standout, and Smith fired a 4-under 67 over the 7,073-yard, par-71 Pinehurst No. 8 to earn a spot in the playoff at 1-under 140. They had opened with a 3-over 73 on Pinehurst No. 2, the 7,161-yard, par-70 Donald Ross classic.
   All eight teams parred the first extra hole, which means they’ll all be back at it Monday morning to determine the last six teams in match play.
   The Ohio State pair of Clark Engle, a senior from Springfield, Ohio, and Will Grimmer, a sophomore from Cincinnati, claimed medalist honors with a 6-under 64 at Pinehurst No. 2 for a 12-under 129 total. They had opened with a 6-under 65 at Pinehurst No. 8.
   Grimmer shared second place at the Big Ten Championship at Baltimore Country Club’s Five Farms East Course earlier this month.
   Wilson Furr of Jackson, Miss. and Davis Shore of Knoxville, Tenn., had grabbed the opening-round with an 8-under 63 at No. 8, but managed only a 3-under 67 at the tough No. 2 layout to finish a shot behind Engle and Grimmer at 11-under 130.
   The Whitford Country Club duo of David West and Chris Yard added a 79 at No. 8 to the 83 they posted at No. 2 to finish at 162.

Lees tied for 15th after two rounds in AJGA Junior at Penn State

   Agnes Irwin junior Kaitlyn Lees, fresh off her second career Inter-Ac League championship, is tied for 15th after two rounds of the American Junior Golf Association Junior at Penn State.
   Lees carded her second straight 4-over-par 76 Sunday over the par-72 Blue Course at Penn State, which measures 5,984 for the girls, and stands at 8-over 152. The final round will be played Monday. The AJGA is returning to Penn State for the first time since 2013.
   North Allegheny sophomore Caroline Wrigley is tied for the lead at 3-under 141 after adding an even-par 72 to her opening-round 69. Wrigley was the WPIAL Class AAA champion last fall, beating eventual PIAA Class AAA champion Mia Kness of Peters Township by a shot.
   Wrigley failed to advance out of the West Regional to the PIAA Championship, but it looks like that disappointment has only renewed her determination to improve her game.
   Sophia Bae of Norwood, N.J., carded a 1-under 71 after opening with a 70 to share the top spot with Wrigley.
   Alexandra Swayne of Maineville, Ohio is alone in third place at 2-under 142 after posting a 2-under 70 Sunday. Esther Park of Wilmington, Del. is alone in fourth place at 1-under 143 with rounds of 70 and 73.
   Lauren Freyvogel, a Pine Richland sophomore who finished fourth at last fall’s PIAA Class AAA Championship, is tied for eighth at 149 after adding an even-par 72 to her opening-round 77. Katie James, a senior who helped Shady Side Academy claim the PIAA Class AAA team title last fall, is tied for 10th at 150 after carding a 4-over 76 Sunday.
   Julianne Lee of York is 22nd with rounds of 81 and 80 and a 161 total, Radnor senior Gabby Kim, the PIAA Class AAA East Regional champion as a junior, is 23rd with rounds of 82 and 81 for a 163 total, and Manheim Township sophomore Ellen Wager is 25th with rounds of 86 and 82 for a 168 total.
   Caleb Ryan, a PIAA qualifier as a sophomore at Norristown, is tied for 32nd on the boys side with rounds of 76 and 75 for a 151 total. Ryan had to earn his way into the field in a Friday qualifier and he claimed medalist honors with a 2-under 70 over the Blue Course, which measures 7,044 yards for the boys.
   Ryan is part of a sizable Pennsylvania contingent chasing leader Stephen Sul of Old Bridge, N.J. Sul added a 5-under 67 to his opening-round 70 to open up a four-shot lead with his 7-under 137 total. Daniel Martinez of Austin, Texas is in second place at 3-under 141 after rounds of 71 and 70.
   Logan Hess of Lancaster and Hunter Bruce of McMurray are the top Pennsylvania contenders as they are part of a group of seven golfers tied for seventh at even-par 144. Both Hess and McMurray bettered par Sunday, each carding a 2-under 70 after opening with 74s.
   Andy Pevarnik, a sophomore at Latrobe who finished in a tie for third at last fall’s PIAA Class AAA Championship, is tied for 14th at 145 after a second-round 75. Karsen Rush (71-75) of Chambersburg and Louis Olsakavsky (70-76) of Upper St. Clair are in a group tied for 18th at 146. Patrick Kelly (72-77)  of Erie is in a group tied for 25th at 149.
   In a tie for 34th at 153, two shots behind Ryan, is Mechanicsburg senior Campbell Wolf (73-80), who was the PIAA Class AAA runnerup last fall.
   Buddy Hansen (80-75) of Blue Bell and Christopher Tanabe (80-75) of Sewickley are in the group tied for 39th at 155.
   David Colleran Jr., a sophomore at Radnor and the reigning Golf Association of Philadelphia Junior Boys’ champion, is in a group tied for 41st at 156 after rebounding from an opening-round 83 with a solid 1-over 73 Sunday. Also at 156 are Ward McHenry (78-78) of Spring City and William Mirams (76-80) of Stroudsburg.
   Jonathan Lumley, a member of Spring-Ford’s District One Class AAA championship team, is tied for 44th at 157 after rounds of 80 and 77.