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Wednesday, April 26, 2017

College of Charleston cruises to fourth straight CAA title



   Drexel and Delaware settled for fifth- and sixth-place finishes, respectively, when the Colonial Athletic Association Championship concluded Sunday morning at Salisbury Country Club in Midlothian, Va.
   And both teams played pretty well throughout the tournament, just not quite good enough to keep up with some of the CAA powers, especially the College of Charleston, which ran away with its  fourth straight conference crown.
   The Cougars, the highest-ranked team in the field at No. 64 by Golfstat, fired a 14-under 274 over the 7,035-yard, par-72 Monacan and Buckingham nines at Salisbury in the opening round and never looked back. They added a 5-under 283 in the middle round and a 4-under 284 in the final round for a 23-under 841 total.
   The tournament was scheduled for a Saturday finish, but rain forced the suspension of play and the final round had to be completed Sunday morning.
   North Carolina-Wilmington was the runnerup at 10-undere 854, Towson finished third at 8-under 856, James Madison, with a sizzling middle round of 15-under 273, was fourth at 4-under 860, Drexel was fifth at 4-over 868 and Delaware was sixth at 10-over 874.
   College of Charleston was led by individual champion Parker Derby, a senior from Columbus, Ga. Derby fired a 6-under 66 in the opening round in a wire-to-wire victory. He added a 2-under 70 in the middle round and matched par in the final round with a 72 to finish at 8-under 208.
   Two other Cougars, Michael Sass, a freshman from Louisville, Ky., and William Rainey, a senior from Charlotte, N.C., were in a group of three players tied for fourth at 5-under 211. Both finished up with a 1-under 71 in the final round.
   Hunter Dunagen, a freshman from Augusta, Ga., finished tied for 18th at 2-over 218 and Phillip Oweida, a senior from Charlotte, N.C., finished tied for 23rd at 3-over 219. Oweida contributed a 3-under 69 to College of Charleston’s opening-round surge.
   UNCW’s Reese McFarlane, a freshman from Cape Elizabeth, Me., was the runnerup in the individual chase, following up a pair of 69s with a final-round 71 for a 7-under 209 total. Towson’s Spencer Alexander, a freshman from Newton, Mass., matched Derby’s opening-round 66 before cooling off with a pair of 72s to finish alone in third at 6-under 210.
   Joining Charleston’s Sass and Rainey in the trio tied for fourth at 5-under 211 was James Madison’s Shota Ozaki, a redshirt sophomore from Japan. Ozaki went 68-69 in the first two rounds before falling back in the final round with a 2-over 74.
   Drexel was led by freshman Connor Schmidt, a Peters Township standout who had a very solid spring for the Dragons. Schmidt was in contention for the individual title after going 70-69 in the first two rounds. A final-round 78 left him tied for 15th at 1-over 217.
   Also for the Dragons, Adam Mistretta, a junior from Livermore, Calif., finished tied for 18th at 2-over 218 after a final-round 72, junior Aaron Fricke, a Garden Spot product, finished tied for 23rd at 219 after a final-round 76, and Yoseph Dance, a senior from Richmond, Va., and sophomore Mike Cook, who starred scholastically at Conestoga, were in the group tied for 27th at 220. Dance struggled to a 77 in the final round while Cook finished up by matching par with a 72.
   Delaware was led by senior Marc Oliveri, a Conestoga Valley product who finished alone in seventh place. A 4-under 68 in the middle round got Oliveri to 5-under before a final-round 74 left him at 3-under 213.
   Also for the Blue Hens, Jack Gianniny, a junior from Pittsford, N.Y., finished tied for 18th at 5-over 218 after a final-round 73, Kieran Purcell, a junior from Jersey City, N.J., finished 31st at 222 after a final-round 76, Bobby Diforio, a sophomore from White Plains, N.Y., finished 33rd at 224 after a final-round 75 and Mark Benevento, a sophomore from Somers Point, N.J., finished tied for 36th at 228 after a final-round 73.


Temple keeps learning against tough American field



   Temple had some high hopes for the spring portion of its campaign after capping a strong fall with a victory in the City 6 Championship at Huntingdon Valley Country Club.
   Brian Quinn’s young team took its lumps this spring, finishing it off by ending up as the last of nine when The American Championship wrapped up Tuesday at the Innisbrook Resort’s Copperhead Course in Palm Harbor, Fla.
   But even that result isn’t completely out of context for what Quinn is trying to accomplish on North Broad Street. He took three sophomores, a redshirt sophomore and a redshirt freshman to Innisbrook this week, many of them local players who wouldn’t get the time of day from a high-powered Division I program. And they competed against a pretty tough field.
   South Florida, for instance, is No. 53 in the latest Golfstat rankings and the Bulls claimed their third straight American Athletic Conference title with a 15-shot victory over No. 96 Cincinnati and No. 54 Houston.
   South Florida was led by Cristian DiMarco, a junior from Longwood, Fla. and the son of Golf Channel commentator Chris DiMarco, who quite famously lost to Tiger Woods in a playoff at the Masters in 2005.
   The younger DiMarco lost in a playoff for the individual title at the American to Houston’s Michael Perras, a junior from Deer Park, Texas, after they finished tied for the top spot at 1-under-par 212 over the 7,125-yard, par-71 Copperhead Course layout.
   DiMarco helped the Bulls put together rounds of 3-over 287, 1-under 283 and another 3-over 287 for a 5-over 857 total. Perras and the Cougars, with a final-round 287, and Cincinnati, which closed with a 293, shared second place at 20-over 872.
   UCF, the highest-ranked team in the field at No. 47, finished fourth at 877 and No. 127 Memphis finished with a 3-over 287 to take fifth at 881. Temple opened with a 298 and added rounds of 300 and 304 to finish ninth at 902.
   South Florida got another strong showing from Jimmy Jones, a junior from Tampa, Fla. who finished tied for third at even-par 213. Jones had a one-shot lead in the individual chase after a 3-under 68 in the middle round before falling back a little with a final-round 74.
   Also for the Bulls, Rigel Fernandes, a senior from Bradenton, Fla., finished tied for ninth at 5-over 218, Priyanshu Singh, a junior from India, finished tied for 11th at 6-over 219 and Claudio Correa, a junior from Chile, finished tied for 20th at 223. Singh and Correa both contributed a solid 1-over 72 in the final round.
   Houston’s Perras has been known to go low. He carded a 16-under 200 to take individual honors in the 2016 Franklin NCAA Regional at Vanderbilt’s Legends Club. He was very steady over a tough Copperhead Course, sandwiching a 1-under 70 in the middle round with a pair of even-par 71s. After getting into contention with a 2-under 69 in the middle round, DiMarco carded a 1-under 70 in the final round to force the playoff.
   A wayward second shot by DiMarco on the first playoff hole, the 18th on the Copperhead, enabled Perras to take the title with a bogey.
   Joining South Florida’s Jones at even-par 213 was SMU’s Gray Townsend, a junior from Winston-Salem, N.C., who closed with a 3-under 68, the low round of the day that was matched by two others.
   Cincinnati’s Austin Squires, a sophomore from Union, Ky., and Houston’s Papito Gonzalez, a redshirt junior from McAllen, Texas, shared fifth place at 1-over 214. Squires was in contention for the individual title with rounds of 72 and 68 before falling back a little with a final-round 74. Gonzalez led the field after an opening-round 68, struggled with a 76 in the middle round and finished up with a 1-under 70.
   As for the Owls, Trey Wren, a sophomore from Suffolk, Va., capped a strong season by finishing tied for 15th with rounds of 74, 73 and 74 and an 8-over 213 total over the Copperhead Course.
   Sophomore Gary McCabe, a former La Salle standout from Collegeville, finished tied for 37th at 230. Two Central League standouts of recent vintage, sophomore Sam Soeth, who starred at Marple Newtown, and redshirt freshman Erik Reisner, a two-time Central League champion at Harriton, finished tied for 41st at 231. Soeth had a final-round 77 while Reisner finished strong with a 3-over 74.
   John Barone, a redshirt sophomore from Dunmore, finished tied for 43rd at 232. Barone started strong with a pair of 74s before struggling home with an 84.
   Quinn’s team has run the gauntlet this spring, going up against top-notch competition during a busy schedule. They are better players for it. It will be interesting to watch them as they take that next step.




Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Vanderbilt the SEC champion; Duke claims ACC crown



   Some of the very best Division I college golfers in the country were on display last weekend when the Southeastern Conference and Atlantic Coast Conference held their respective championship tournaments. Great golf ensued.
   The SEC decided to mimic the format of the NCAA Championship with 54 holes of stroke play to determine eight match-play qualifiers and an individual champion followed by a day of quarterfinals and semifinals and then the final.
   The event produced the kind of drama that has made the NCAA such a draw on The Golf Channel since match play was introduced into the mix. In the end, Vanderbilt, No. 3 in the latest Golfstat rankings, won the first SEC title in school history with a 3-2 victory over No. 15 Texas A&M that capped four days of amazing golf at Sea Island Golf Club’s Seaside Course at St. Simons Island, Ga.
   It started with a bang as Florida’s Alejandro Tosti, a junior from Argentina, blitzed the 7,005-yard, par-70 Seaside Course layout with a 6-under-par 64 that led the No. 6 Gators to a sparkling 11-under 269 team total and the opening-round lead.
   Florida couldn’t sustain its momentum in the afternoon of the Friday double round, posting a 9-over 289, but Tosti kept it up with a 3-under 69 that gave him a one-shot lead in the individual chase.
   It was Vanderbilt, though, which owned the final day of stroke play. Patrick Martin, a sophomore from Birmingham, Ala., and Theo Humphrey, a junior from Greenwich, Conn., both came in with a 4-under 66 as the Commodores carded an 8-under 272 for an 11-under 829 total.
   That gave them the top seed for match play with Texas A&M finishing second, six shots back of Vandy at 5-under 835. No. 7 LSU, which put together a pretty strong final round of 5-under 275 itself, finished third at 3-under 837 and Florida was another shot back in fourth at 2-under 838.
   Martin’s 66, his second of the tournament, enabled him to catch Tosti at 10-under 200 and force a playoff for the individual title. Tosti closed with a 3-under 67.
   Tosti captured the title with a four on the second playoff hole, about the only thing Vanderbilt did not win during the weekend.
   Humphrey’s final-round 66 left him alone in 12th place at 1-under 209. Will Gordon, a sophomore from Davidson, N.C., finished tied for 18th at 2-over 212, John Augenstein, a freshman from Owensboro, Ky., finished tied for 27th at 4-over 214 and Matthias Schwab, the Commodores’ veteran senior, finished tied for 33rd at 5-over 215.
   Schwab, though, saved his best stuff for the final round, a 1-under 69 that was a big part of Vanderbilt’s final push to the top seed.
   But it was Augenstein, the freshman, who would be the hero of match play for the Commodores.
   Augenstein, Gordon and Schwab won their matches in a 3-2 quarterfinal win over No. 23 Mississippi. Texas A&M rolled to a 5-0 decision over No. 24 Missouri. Florida survived with a 3-2 win over No. 30 South Carolina when Tosti outlasted Will Miles, a sophomore from Hilton Head Island, S.C., in 20 holes and No.  38 Alabama earned a 3.5-1.5 win over LSU in a mild upset, if there is such a thing as an upset in match play.
   Augenstein holed a 10-foot putt to defeat Florida’s Andy Zhang on the 20th hole and deliver a 3-2 semifinal win for Vanderbilt over Florida. The playoff participants for the individual title, Tosti and Martin met again with Tosti again prevailing, claiming a 2 and 1 decision. Texas A&M earned the other spot in the final with a 3-2 victory over Alabama.
   The spotlight again landed on Augenstein in Monday’s final and he came through again, this time making a par on the 14th hole at the Seaside Course, the 23rd hole of the match, to defeat Andrew Paysse, a junior from Temple, Texas, for the winning point in a 3-2 Vanderbilt victory.
Martin and Humphrey also earned match wins in the victory over the Aggies.
   The ACC didn’t go to match play, but it did finish up with a four-man playoff for the individual title. With a forecast for bad weather heading for the Musgrove Mill Golf Course in Clinton, S.C. Sunday, the tournament finished up with a 36-hole Saturday windup.
   Virginia’s Jimmy Stanger, a senior from Tampa, Fla., needed to hole a six-foot birdie putt on his final hole, the ninth at Musgrove Mill, and he got it to fall to join the playoff. Stanger was then the only player of the four to birdie the first playoff hole, the 18th at Musgrove Mill, to capture the ACC individual title.
   The birdie on the final hole of regulation gave Stanger a 1-under 71 on the back end of Saturday’s double round over the 6,951-yard, par-72 Musgrove Mill layout and a 5-under 211 total.
   He was joined at that figure by North Carolina’s Ben Griffin, a junior from Chapel Hill, N.C. who had gone 7-under in the first 36 holes only to fall back with a 2-over 74 in the final round, Wake Forest’s Paul McBride, a junior from England who had a final round of 3-under 69, and Clemson’s Bryson Nimmer, a sophomore from Bluffton, S.C. who matched par in the final round with a 72.
   The team title went to No. 21 Duke, giving the Blue Devils a sweep of the men’s and women’s ACC titles, no easy feat in a conference filled with talented players of both genders.
   Duke jumped out with an 11-under 277 in Friday’s opening round and fiercely protected its advantage during Saturday’s double round. The Blue Devils added a 3-under 285 in the middle round and finished up with an even-par 288 to finish at 14-under 850.
   That gave Duke a 12-shot advantage over runnerup Clemson, ranked 14th. The Tigers finished with a 1-over 289 for a 2-under 862 total. It was another five shots back to No. 9 Wake Forest in third at 3-over 867.
   It was a remarkably balanced effort by Duke with the five players in its lineup all within four shots of each other and landing from tied for fifth to 14th place in the individual standings.
   The Blue Devils were led by Alex Smalley, a sophomore from Wake Forest, N.C. who finished tied for fifth at 4-under 212, just missing the playoff for the individual title. Smalley finished up with 69 and 70 in Saturday’s double round.
   Jake Shuman, a junior from Neeham, Mass, finished tied for eighth at 2-under 214 despite a final-round 75, Alexander Matlari, a senior from Germany, and Matt Oshrine, a senior from Baltimore, both finished in the group tied for 10th at 1-under 215, and Chandler Eaton, a freshman from Alpharetta, Ga., finished alone in 14th at even-par 216.
   But it was such a team win that Duke tossed the score of its top finisher, Smalley, in the Blue Devils’ best round, the 11-under 277 opening round. Shuman and Oshrine carded 68s, Matlari had a 69 and Eaton matched par with a 72 while Smalley checked in at 1-over 73.
   Such is the talent at these two events that two Bucks County guys didn’t even make the lineup for their respective teams for the conference championships.
   Wake Forest’s lineup did not include sophomore Kyle Sterbinsky, the former Peddie School standout from Yardley. Sterbinsky was very solid for the Demon Deacons in the postseason as a freshman last spring. It will be interesting to see if he can play his way into the lineup for next month’s regionals.
   The lineup for SEC champion Vanderbilt did not include senior Zach Herr, the former Council Rock North standout. Still a good enough player to earn medalist honors at a U.S. Open local qualifier last spring in western Pennsylvania, Herr just can’t crack the lineup for the talented Commodores.
   Many of the teams that teed it up at Sea Island and Musgrove Mill last weekend will earn berths in next month’s NCAA regionals. They’re that good and their conference championships reflected that level of play.