Monday, October 12, 2015

Shattuck fails to advance out of's First Stage

   Braden Shattuck , the 2011-2012 Daily Times Player of the Year at Sun Valley, failed to advance out of a Web.Com First Stage Qualifying Tournament last week.
   Shattuck had rounds of 72, 73, 66 and 76 for a 72-hole total of 1-under 287 at the Grasslands Golf and Country Club in Lakeland, Fla. That left him in a tie for 47th. The top 23 and ties advanced to the Second Stage in November.
   Shattuck got a pretty good idea of what he’s going to be up against in trying to get on the Tour. Medalist honors went to Doug Letson of Tampa, Fla. who had rounds of 68, 66, 64 and 70 for a 20-undetr 268 total.
   The cut, though, came at 9-under and the 21-year-old Shattuck stood at 5-under following his 6-under 66 in the third round.
   Justin Martinson, a former Kennett High and University of Delaware standout who made a splash on The Golf Channel’s last “Big Break” reality series, fired an opening-round 63 and that carried him to a 17-under 271 total. He finished in a tie for fourth and he’ll be moving on to the Second Stage.
   In another First Stage event last week in Pine Mountain, Ga., Temple senior Brandon Matthews, who has won the Philadelphia Open twice in the last three summers, advanced to the Second Stage with an 11-under 277 total at the Mountain View course at Callaway Gardens.
   Matthews, the 2010 PIAA champion as a junior at Pittston, is maintaining his amateur status while competing in the qualifying process, although he probably has the option of turning pro and competing on the Tour if he makes it all the way through.

Curran, Chambers, Kan are Junior Tour winners

   Gary Duda’s Malvern Prep golf team is dominating the Inter-Ac League through three mini-tournaments. The Friars are so talented they barely missed freshman Andrew Curran, a Media resident and a member at Overbrook Golf Club who was out with an illness.
   Well, Curran let Duda know he’s quickly rounding back into form by firing a 2-over 73 at Woodcrest Country Club Sunday to cruise to a six-shot victory in the 13-to-15 division in a Philadelphia Section PGA Junior Tour stop.
   Curran’s sparkling round featured a birdie and 14 pars over the 6,332-yard, par-71 William Flynn design.
   Andrew Miller of Bryn Mawr finished in a tie for fourth with an 85, Daniel Bastian of Media finished seventh with a 90, Radnor freshman  Blake Stephano finished 10th with a  93, and Corey Kan of Boothwyn finished 19th with a 113.
   Kan’s older sister Caprian, a junior at Chichester, tuned up for the District One Tournament by winning the girls 13-to-15 division with an 87. Kan fired an opening-round 74 at Gilbertsville Golf Club’s Red and White Nines Monday to advance to the second round of the district tournament. Details on that round appear in a story in Tuesday’s print edition of the Daily Times and, hopefully, on PaPrepLive, our new scholastic website.
   Joe Chambers, an Episcopal Academy graduate, capped a strong weekend with an 81 at Woodcrest to finish second in the 16-to-18 division. Shravann Raja of Moorestown, N.J. took division honors with an 80.
   Casey Oppenheimer of Conshohocken won the girls 16-to-18 division with an 88.
Among the nine-holers, John Wang of Wilmington, Del. won in a match of cards with Henry Fish of Malvern after both carded 6-over 41s. Chase Stephano of Radnor finished in a tie for fourth with a 51 and Charlie Bastian of Media finished sixth with a 52.
   Chambers began his weekend by trekking up to Berks County Saturday to win the 16-to-18 division in a Junior Tour stop at Heidelberg Country Club.
   Chambers had a pair of birdies in touring the 6,281-yard, par-70 Heidelburg layout in 6-over 76.   Radnor junior Daniel Bullock tuned up for the District One Tournament by finishing fifth with a 90.
Alex Seelig of Birdsboro won the 13-to-15 division with a 79. Jack Cooley of Chadds Ford finished in a tie for fifth with a 94.
   Lily Byrne of Downingtown won the girls 13-to-15 division. Conshohocken’s Oppenheimer won the 16-to-18 division with a 103 while Radnor senior Caitlin Bullock, like her brother also preparing for districts, finished second with a 115.
   Joshua Ryan of Norristown topped the nine-holers with a 38.

Sunday, October 11, 2015

District One preview: Walker bids for a title that's eluded her

   The top boys and girls players in District One tee it up Monday morning, the boys at Turtle Creek Golf Club and the girls a few miles up Swamp Pike at Gilbertsville Golf Club, with team and individual district titles on the line over the next two days.
   Radnor senior Brynn Walker, the reigning PIAA Class AAA champion, gets one last chance to fill in one of the few items missing on her sparkling scholastic resume. Walker, a North Carolina commit, helped Radnor claim a PIAA team title as a freshman, won a medal at states with a tie for fifth as a sophomore and won Class AAA East Regional and state championships a year ago.
   Walker had one bad hole at the Red and White nines on Day 1 at Gilbertsville – she hit two balls out of bounds and took a 10 on the par-5 second hole – a year ago and it took her out of the running for the district title.
   But it’s never easy winning a district title. Since Chichester’s Aurora Kan dominated the event by winning three straight titles from 2007 to 2009, the talent level for the top girls in District One has really taken off.
   Kan was denied a fourth district title as a senior by Council Rock North freshman Erica Herr, although Kan won a state title three weeks later. But Herr would go on to win two PIAA titles while district titles went to Mount St. Joseph’s Isabella DiLisio and the last two to Pennsbury’s Jackie Rogowicz.  DiLisio and Rogowicz are making immediate impacts at the collegiate level at Notre Dame and Penn State, respectively, as freshmen this fall.
   Walker never seems to have a problem at Turtle Creek, where the scene shifts Tuesday for the girls after the field is cut following Monday’s opening round at Gilbertsville. She reiterated that point with a 4-under 68 at last week’s Central League Tournament that featured an eagle, two birdies and 14 pars and, yeah, she said, if a couple of putts had dropped, it could have been even better.
   One of Walker’s biggest challenges for a district title may come from Council Rock North’s Madelein Herr, her partner in crime when the two teens nearly stole the inaugural U.S. Women’s Amateur Four-Ball Championship last May in Oregon. They reached the semifinals before falling, but that run assured them a return trip to Four-Ball next spring.
   Coatesville’s Sammie Staudt has really improved her game and she always seems to be playing her best during the scholastic postseason. Pretty sure she’s a three-time state qualifier.
   Walker’s teammate, junior Gabby Kim, had a very good round at Centrals last week, her 1-over 73 perhaps overlooked a little because of Walker’s low round. Kim played an ambitious summer schedule and it’s paying off at the scholastic level.
   Delco’s boys haven’t fared as well in recent years at Turtle Creek, although Marple Newtown’s Sam Soeth and Springfield’s Brian Todaro were among a group that finished in a tie for third two years ago. It is a very competitive event and you can’t afford a big number.
   Radnor junior Michael Sydnes shared medalist honors with Springfield senior Josh Luchon with a solid 73 at Centrals last week. He looked like he was well on his way to a berth in the Class AAA East Regional last year at districts when he hit two balls out of bounds on the 10th hole and lost any chance to advance.
   That kind of experience will be helpful to him this year.
   Haverford senior Frankie McVeigh was just a shot back of Sydnes and Luchon at Centrals with a 74. Speaking of Haverford, nice job by first-year coach Nate Oxman, whose Fords beat Marple Newtown the day after the Central Tournament  last week to finish 6-5 in the league. It will be the first trip to the District One tourney for McVeigh, a product of the junior program at Llanerch Country Club, but a 2-over round at the Turtle should be a nice confidence booster.
   Marple Newtown senior Joey DelFranco, who had a 75 at Centrals last week, has been here before, failing to make the cut on Day 1 at the Turtle last year.
   The two players who matched DelFranco’s 75 last week, Garnet Valley junior Jimmy Gillespie and Radnor freshman Jake Calamaro, will be in the district field for the first time. Calamaro, the younger brother of 2009 PIAA girls champion Jackie Calamaro, seemed unfazed by his first major scholastic postseason test last week. It will be interesting to see how he fares.
   Two years ago, Methacton’s Kyle Vance stormed to a district title as a freshman. He’s a junior and remains one of the district’s top players.
   The talent pool runs deep among the boys in District One.
   Day 2 at Turtle Creek will feature the team competition. When Radnor had enough players to field a girls team, the Raiders were contending for district and state championships. But with not enough girls to field a girls team, Radnor has a coed team, which means Walker’s score will count for Radnor.
   The Raiders completed an impressive 11-0 run through the always-tough Central last week. Coach Andy Achenbach’s problem, if it can be called that, is which five to enter in the team competition. The top four scores count toward the team total.
   Obviously, Sydnes and Walker will be two of the five and Calamaro probably solidified his spot with his 74 in the Central Tournament. There are five other Radnor boys (Chris Austen, Conor Rinehart, Daniel Bullock, Minwoo Kwak, and Peter Civitella) and two other Radnor girls (Kim and Caitlin Bullock) who qualified individually for districts. A couple of the Radnor boys who failed to qualify for districts last week were major contributors to the Raiders’ dual-match success.
   It will be interesting to see how Achenbach fills out his lineup. Regardless, Radnor will certainly be a contender to win the district team title. The district team champion earns a trip to the Heritage Hills Resort in York County to compete for a PIAA Class AAA team title.

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Updike helps Malvern Prep take control of Inter-Ac race

   We got a little mention in the high school roundup in Friday’s Daily Times about the performance of Malvern Prep freshman John Updike in leading the Friars to its third consecutive sweep in Round 3 of the Inter-Ac League’s six mini-tournaments, this one hosted by The Haverford School at Gulph Mills Golf Club Thursday.
   Updike, a Wayne resident and a member at Aronimink Golf Club, fired a 33 on the front nine at Gulph Mills and Malvern Prep coach Gary Duda reported that no freshman had ever gone that low since the Inter-Ac went to its mini-tournament setup when the league switched from playing in the spring to the fall in 2011. He didn’t specify if that was the lowest score by a freshman at any course or at Gulph Mills, but it was an impressive performance either way.
   The Friars’ second best score also came from another freshman, Matt Civitella, who had a 1-over 36. Rounding out their top six counters were senior Mike Miller (39), senior Jimmy Murray (40) of Springfield, sophomore Matthew Davis (40), a Newtown Square resident and an Aronimink member, and senior Marty McGuckin (40).
   And Malvern Prep needed all those good scores because the Friars’ 229 total was only four shots clear of Episcopal Academy and the Churchmen got some sparkling performances from a couple of their young guns.
   Episcopal was led by freshman Michael Zeng, who had a 1-over 36, and eighth-grader Case Hummer, a Glen Mills resident and Aronimink member, who had a 2-over 37. Matt Marino and Cole Kemmerer added a pair of 39s and senior co-captain Cole Testaiuti and Ashton Dunn came in with 41s.
   Defending champion Haverford School was led by senior All-Delco Max Siegfried, who had a 2-over 37. Siegfried is a Newtown Square resident and an Aronimink member and you might be starting to conclude that the junior program at Aronimink is pretty strong  right now. David Hurly added a 39 for the Fords.
   Haverford School finished third with a 246 total just a shot better than Penn Charter, which was led by sophomore Brian Isztwan, the reigning Inter-Ac individual champion who trailed Updike by a shot with a 1-under 34.
   Malvern Prep is a perfect 15-0 through the three mini-tournaments with Episcopal and Haverford School tied for second at 10-4-1.
   I also got my hands on the individual standings through three mini-tournaments, courtesy of Malvern Prep’s Duda, and Siegfried leads the way as he has finished behind only seven players in the three mini-tournaments with an overall record of 131-7-3. He is followed by Updike, Isztwan and the Malvern Prep trio of McGuckin, Davis and Miller.
   Episcopal will host Round 4 Tuesday at Merion Golf Club’s West Course.

Schmitz a real ace at U.S. Mid-Amateur

   Nobody loves a drivable par-4 more than Mike Davis, the USGA’s executive director. Davis rose through the ranks of the country’s ruling golf organization mostly as a guy who set up courses for major championships. And if a short par-4 offered him the opportunity, he would  move the tees up and basically say, “go for it guys.”
   So I’m guessing Davis flashed that wry smile he gets when he heard about Sammy Schmitz’s feat in the U.S. Mid-Amateur final Thursday at John’s Island Club’s West Course in Vero Beach, Fla.
   Schmitz, a 35-year-old father of two from Farmington, Minn. who works in health-care services, arrived at the 260-yard, par-4 15th hole 2-up in his scheduled 36-hole final with Marc Dull of Lakeland, Fla. having just lost the previous hole when his wedge plugged in a greenside bunker.
   After Dull teed off, Schmitz pulled out his driver and smashed it toward the target. The ball landed 17 feet from the hole, caught the slope and rolled into the hole for a hole-in-one on the par-4.
   “I can’t believe,” Schmitz told the USGA website. “I’ve been hitting driver (on the hole) the entire tournament. I think I’ve hit the green four times. I just had a food feeling. I can’t believe it went in. It’s very surreal.”
   The match wasn’t over, but come on, it was over. The 2003 NCAA Division III All-American at St. John’s University in Colllegeville, Minn. finished off Dull on the next hole for a 3 and 2 victory.
   “I win 14 and I’m thinking maybe we can back in this,” said Dull. “I didn’t hit a good tee shot and when a guy jars it on a par-4, what are you going to do? You just shake his hand and laugh it off. It was an amazing shot that he hit.”
   There’s a pretty good chance Schmitz will be back to defend his title at the 2016 U.S. Mid-Amateur Championship, which will be staged at Stonewall, the gem of a golf course in East Nantmeal,
Chester County.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Malvern Prep separating itself from the pack in the Inter-Ac

   We managed to sneak some highlights from Round 2 of the Inter-Ac League’s regular-season mini-tournaments into the high school roundup in Wednesday’s Daily Times.
   Springside Chestnut Hill Academy hosted the rest of the league at Sunnybrook Golf Club. And Malvern Prep established itself as the team to beat by sweeping the field for the second straight time to run its record to 10-0.
   Defending champion Haverford School settled for a share of second place with Episcopal Academy and sits at 7-2-1.
   Senior Marty McGuckin led the way for the Friars as he fired a 1-under 35, but it is the play of Malvern Prep’s freshmen that might be enabling it to separate itself from the pack in the Inter-Ac this fall. John Updike of Wayne and Aronimink Golf Club had the second-best score for Malvern Prep with a 37 and another freshman, Matt Civitella, chipped in with a 39. Civitella might be an Aronimink member, too, but I’m still working on getting my Civitellas straight.
   Sophomore Matthew Davis, a Newtown Square resident and also an Aronimink member and probably Malvern Prep’s best player, Jimmy Miller of Springfield and Mike Miller all had 41s. It added up to 234, which was 11 shots better than Haverford School and Episcopal, who tied for second at 245.
   The Fords were led by senior All-Delco Max Siegfried, who fired a 37.
   The rapidly improving Churchmen were led by sophomore Jon Perry, who had an even-par 36. Senior co-captains Cole Testaiuti and Scott McConnell checked in at 40 and 41. Cole Kemmerer had a 42 and eighth-grader Case Hummer, a Glen Mills resident and an Aronimink member, and freshman Michael Zeng, of Downingtown and Applecross Country Club, both had 43s.
   I’ve said it before, but it bears repeating, there are some really talented youngsters -- we’re talking eighth- and ninth-graders -- coming through the pipeline right now in this county.
   Speaking of talented ninth-graders, Radnor’s Jake Calamaro, a member at Rolling Green Golf Club, finished two shots out of first place with a 3-over 75 in his first shot at the Central League Tournament Wednesday at Turtle Creek Golf Club. And he had four three-putts when he went through 18 with three holes to play.
   I managed to sneak up to the Turtle long enough Wednesday to talk to Radnor junior Michael Sydnes and Springfield senior Josh Luchon, both of whom shot 1-over 73s. That story should show up on PaPrepLIve, our new scholastic website. What I still don’t know is if they had a playoff to determine a Central League champion or if they were declared co-champions. Regardless, they played the tricky Turtle Creek layout perfectly.
   Did not get a chance to talk to Haverford senior Frankie McVeigh, a Llanerch Country Club member, who fired a 2-over 74 to finish alone in third. McVeigh has been Haverford’s best player for four years and it’s nice to see his hard work pay off with a good number at just the right time.
   Did get to see Brynn Walker chip in for a nice finishing eagle to cap a ho-hum 4-under 68. You know, just two birdies and an eagle and no bogeys. Walker told me how disappointed she was this summer with near-misses in qualifying for the U.S. Girls Junior and the U.S. Women’s Amateur, but she seems to have her game in order with the scholastic postseason getting under way.
   And Walker did have some success on the USGA front in 2015 with her run to the semifinals of the inaugural U.S. Women’s Amateur Four-Ball Championship with Council Rock North’s Madelein Herr in May and a third-place finish with Team Pennsylvania along with former Chichester great Aurora Kan and two-time Pennsylvania Amateur champion Ellen Ceresko at last month’s U.S. Women’s State Team Championship.
   I’ll try to whip up something of a preview for the District One Tournament, which opens Monday with the girls at Gilbertsville Golf Club and the boys at the Turtle. The girls who survive the Day 1 cut play at the Turtle on Day 2.
   But an interesting part of the story is going to be Day 2 at the Turtle when the District One team championship is decided. Radnor had seven boys and three girls qualify individually for districts. Radnor coach Andy Achenbach will have to decide which five to take for the team. Obviously, Walker and Sydnes will be two of the five.
   Junior Gabby Kim was busy all summer playing as much tournament golf as she could and it really paid off Wednesday as she fired a 73. It was overshadowed by Walker’s 68, but it was a really fine round. Achenbach can’t help but consider her among the five for the district team tournament. We shall see.

Sunday, October 4, 2015

McDermott, Osberg fail to make match play at U.S. Mid-Amateur

   Play in the second round of qualifying in the U.S. Mid-Amateur Championship at the John’s Island Club in Vero Beach, Fla. wasn’t completed Sunday, but it doesn’t look like Merion Golf Club’s Michael McDermott nor Huntingdon Valley Country Club’s Jeff Osberg will make match play.
   The 40-year-old McDermott, a former Haverford High and Saint Joseph’s standout, didn’t miss by much as he added a 4-over 76 at John’s Island’s West Course Sunday to the 3-over 74 he shot at the North Course Saturday for a 7-over 150 total.
   The projected cut line is 5-over 148, although there are enough players who must still complete their rounds that it could fall to 6-over, but it doesn’t seem likely.
   The 31-year-old Osberg, a former Owen J. Roberts and Guilford College standout, had opened with a 2-over 74 at the West Course Saturday, but posted an 8-over 79 at the North Course Monday to finish at 10-over 153.
   It looked like John Sawin, a Haverford School All-Delco more than a decade ago who lives in San Francisco, was going to contend for medalist honors when he opened with a 2-under 70 at the West Course Saturday. But Sawin struggled to an 8-over 79 on the North Course, including a triple bogey 8 on the par-5 14th, and is part of that 6-over group that looks like it will just miss match play.
   Also at the 6-over figure is Nathan Smith, the four-time U.S. Mid-Amateur champion and the 1994 PIAA champion as a sophomore at Brookville. Smith’s 1-over 73 at the West Course Sunday might not be good enough to make up for his opening-round 5-over 76 at the North Course.
   McDermott certainly battled Sunday. Starting on the back nine on the West Course, he made bogeys at 11 and 13, steadied himself with six straight pars, then made bogeys at the second third holes and stood at 4-over for the round.
   But birdies at four and six got him back to 2-over for the day and 5-over overall, which would have put him inside the cut line, before he gave two shots back with bogeys at the seventh and eighth holes.
   Osberg lost any hope when he made two double bogeys and two bogeys in a back-nine 41 at the North Course.
   Glenn Smeraglio, a Newtown resident who plays out of Mercer Oaks Golf Club, finished at the same 7-over 150 total as McDermott did. Smeraglio had a 4-over 76 at the West Course Sunday along with an opening-round 3-over 74 at the North Course Saturday.
   Still, it was two pretty good weeks of USGA competition for Smeraglio, who qualified for match play at last week’s U.S. Senior Amateur at Hidden Creek Golf Club in Egg Harbor Township, N.J. and will end up a shot or two outside of making match play at the Mid-Am.
   Overbrook Golf Club’s Brad McFadden struggled at John’s Island, adding an 86 Sunday at the North Course to his opening-round 87 at the West Course for a 173 total.
   Scott Harvey of Greensboro, N.C. won this title a year ago at Saucon Valley Country Club in Bethlehem and has a chance to capture the qualifying medal. He has two holes to play on the front nine at the North Course and is tied for the lead at 4-under with Scott Parziale of Brockton, Mass.
Parziale carded a 3-under 69 at the West Course Sunday after an opening-round of 1-under 70 at the North Course Saturday to get into the clubhouse at 4-under 139.
   The U.S. Mid-Amateur comes to the Philadelphia area, well the scenic northwest corner of Chester County anyway, when it is played at Stonewall in 2016.
   By the way, the U.S. Women’s Mid-Amateur Championship is also under way at the Squire Creek Country Club in Choudrant, La. and Meghan Stasi, an eight-time Women’s Golf Association of Philadelphia champion, has booked her spot in match play.
   A four-time winner of this event, Stasi, who lives in Oakland Park, Fla., but is a South Jersey native, finished sixth in qualifying with rounds of 78 and 75 for a 9-over 153 total.
   Katie Miller, the reigning Pennsylvania Women’s Amateur champion and a Jeannette resident, finished tied for fourth with a pair 76s and a 152 total to assure herself a spot in match play. Miller won three PIAA titles at Hempfield and is the only three-time state champion in the history of the girls tournament.