Monday, May 25, 2015

Kan, Purdue come up short of match-play berth

   I was there when Aurora Kan’s high school career ended at the Heritage Hills Golf Resort with a 12-foot birdie putt for par on the second hole of a playoff with West Chester East’s Gabriella DiMarco that gave the Chichester senior the 2010 PIAA championship she had been so close to getting the two previous years.
   I almost felt like I was there Monday as Kan’s collegiate career ended at The Concession Golf Club in Bradenton, Fla. with Purdue coming up a little short of making the final eight that will tee it up in match play Tuesday for the NCAA championship. The Boilermakers had their worse day of the tournament, carding a final-round 311 that gave them a 72-hole total of 1,222. That left them in 12th place, eight shots out of the coveted top eight.
   But there was never anything close to a concession by Kan and Purdue on Florida’s Gulf Coast. Kan was the only senior on the five-woman team that Devon Brouse sent to the NCAA Tournament and some of the youngsters might have finally hit the wall in the fourth round of stroke play Monday.
Purdue’s first three rounds of 307, 302 and 303 had put it squarely in contention to finish in the top eight. Monday’s broadcast on The Golf Channel seemed to indicate that the weather and the course setup had The Concession  layout playing its toughest in the first three rounds, particularly the first and second rounds.
   But with the scores generally lower in the final round, Purdue couldn’t sustain its momentum. The Boilermakers went 17-over on the front nine. The made just six birdies in the round, four of them by Marta Martin, the freshman from Spain who carded a final-round 76 and was Purdue’s low scorer at 13-over 301. That left her in a tie for 25th.
   Linn Andersson, a freshman from Sweden, fell back in the final round with an 80 after she had posted a solid 1-over 73 in Sunday’s third round, a big reason Purdue had easily survived the first team cut from 24 teams to 15 for Monday’s final round. Andersson’s 305 total left her in a tie for 40th.
Kan capped her career with a 79 – and I think I know her well enough to know she’s not happy about it – Monday for a 72-hole total of 307 and in a tie for 45th.
   August Kim, the sophomore from St. Augustine, Fla., also had a final-round 79 to finish at 314 and in a tie for 61st. Anna Appert Lund, a junior from Sweden, had Purdue’s second-best score of the day Monday, a 77, and finished in a tie for 63rd at 315.
   Purdue finished 30 shots back of the team qualifying medalist, Southern Cal, which went 297, 303, 398 and 294 for a 1,192 total. Defending national champion Duke, winner of the South Bend regional Purdue was in was five shots at 1,197.
   So maybe Purdue was a notch below those teams, but match play is a whole different animal and I’m certain the Boilermakers would have backed down from nobody in match play.
   Did catch the brilliant approach shot out of a fairway bunker on the 18th hole by Alabama’s Emma Talley that gave her the individual title. The daily weather delay in Bradenton forced Talley to wait an hour to make her 10-foot birdie putt, but she got it done to add an NCAA individual crown to the U.S. Women’s Amateur title she won two years ago at the Country Club of Charleston in South Carolina.
Talley’s effort was not good enough to get the Tide into the final eight for match play. Alabama finished four shots behind Purdue in 14th place at 1,226.
   Also missing the cut was Wake Forest, which finished between Purdue and Alabama in 13th place at 1,224. Wake Forest freshman Erica Herr, who won the next two PIAA crowns following Kan’s 2010 title while at Council Rock North, struggled at the tough Concession layout with rounds of 82, 81, 81 and 82 to finish in a tie for 108th. That will only make her more determined to get better.
   Kan had quite a four years at Purdue, which was coming off an NCAA championship in 2010 and a runnerup finish in nationals in 2011 when she arrived in the fall of 2011. She was the freshman then as a very good Purdue team finished ninth.
   Kan’s high-water mark was probably her sophomore season when the Boilermakers finished third at the NCAA Tournament and she finished tied for 15th in the individual standings.
   But something tells me she might be most proud of this team. Coming off a disappointing season in which the Boilermakers failed to qualify for the NCAA Tournament as a team, Kan helped to restore Purdue to its rightful spot among the top programs in the country.
   Overlooked by pollsters all season, probably because of its relative youth, there was Purdue on the last day of stroke play with a real shot at making the field of eight for match play as the NCAA opted for match play to determine the women’s champion for the first time.
   They’re disappointed because they were right there with 18 holes to go and it slipped away. But to finish 12th after never cracking the top 30 in anybody’s rankings all season isn’t bad. The other four Purdue players who were in Bradenton will all be back next year with a valuable year of experience behind them.
   When the Boilermakers improve next year, Kan can take pride in knowing she played a role in helping some of those youngsters grow a little this season.

Friday, May 22, 2015

Purdue trying to weather the storm at NCAA Tournament

   I was a little misled by the original schedule I saw for the NCAA Women’s Tournament, thinking it didn’t get under way until Sunday, but it actually started, and then was stopped by Mother Nature, Friday.
   I have a couple of days off this weekend, but I’ll be back Memorial Day night to wrap up wherever the tournament, which is being played at The Concession Golf Club in Bradenton, Fla., is at that point. But considering the spike this blog seems to get whenever the subject is this Purdue women’s golf team, I felt I should at least update Friday’s partial results.
   With senior Aurora Kan, the 2010 PIAA champion as a senior at Chichester, and Marta Martin, the freshman from Spain, leading the way, the Boilermakers were among three teams tied for 10th. The best score among teams that completed the opening round was Duke, the team that won the South Bend Regional that Purdue played at a couple of weeks ago. The defending champion Blue Devils posted a 5-over 293 total. In relation to par, Duke trailed only Stanford, which sits at 3-over, but still has some golf to play.
   Purdue is at 14-over, tied with two other teams that still have some golf to play, Campbell and North Carolina State. The Boilermakers are only two shots back of Arizona, which finished its round at 12-over 300, and sits in fifth place, so their fortunes could swing wildly even with only a few holes to play.
   Kan is at 2-over with three holes to play after carding two birdies in her round. Martin is also at 2-over with two holes to play and she has two birdies and an eagle on her card.
   Coach Devon Brouse undoubtedly had a tough call to make between two of his Swedes, senior Johanna Tillstrom and freshman Linn Andersson, to fill out his five for the NCAA Tournament. He chose Andersson, who was the only Boiler to finish her round Friday and she posted a solid 3-over 75.
The third Swede on the roster, junior Anna Appert Lund has one hole to play and stands at 7-over. Sophomore August Kim, the St. Augustine native playing in her home state, is 8-over with three holes to play.
   Purdue’s sole focus is being among the top 15 teams whenever the third round of team play, originally scheduled to be Sunday, is completed. Those top 15 teams will then compete in a fourth round with the top eight survivors then playing match play. Get into match play in a team event like this, and anything can happen. A-n-y-t-h-i-n-g.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

McNeil holds on to take GAP Middle-Amateur crown

   Bala Golf Club’s Scott McNeil, who had established a three-shot lead with a 2-under-par 68 in Wednesday’s opening round, held off some Golf Association of Philadelphia heavyweights Thursday to win GAP’s first major title of the season, the Middle-Amateur Championship.
   McNeil, the 29-year-old parking facilities manager at 10 Rittenhouse Square, struggled to a 5-over 75 over the testy 6,557-yard, par-70 St. Davids Golf Club layout, a typically classic Donald Ross design, but his 3-over 143 total was good enough to hold off hard-charging Jeff Osberg, the reigning Philadelphia Amateur champion, by a shot.
   Osberg, a Huntingdon Valley Country Club member who played out of Llanerch Country Club for a couple of years, fired a 2-under 69 Thursday to finish at 4-over 144.
   “(It’s a) great feeling,” McNeil, who was the qualifying medalist in a U.S. Open local qualifier at Trump National earlier this month, told the GAP website. “(I’ve put in) lots of hard work early on in the season (and) I’m glad is has finally paid off.
   “I’ve been close before, but for once I put myself in good position and (was) able to drive the bus rather than riding in the back of it and looking to get to the front of it.”
   Merion Golf Club’s Michael McDermott, who has won this title four times among his nine career GAP majors, made some noise as well. McDermott, the Haverford High and Saint Joseph’s University standout who grew up playing at Llanerch, matched Osberg’s 1-under 69 and grabbed a share of third place at 5-over 145. 
   Plymouth Country Club’s Michael Carr, who had an opening-round 71, had a 74 Thursday to share third with McDermott. Stephen Dressel, the reigning club champion at St. Davids, briefly had a share of the lead with McNeil before falling back. He had a pair of 73s to finish alone in fifth at 146.
Llanerch’s Brian McDermott, Michael’s younger brother, had one of Thursday’s best rounds, a 1-over 71, to finish in a tie for ninth at 148.
   A couple of Overbrook Golf Club players, Brad McFadden (74-76) and the ageless Ray Thompson (76-74), were in a large group at 150.
   Another large group at 153 included Overbrook’s Oscar Mestre (74-79), Aronimink Golf Club’s Jeff Klagholz (79-74), Rolling Green Golf Club’s Jon Lavin (75-78) and Llanerch’s Brandon Murdock (74-79).

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Dolan, Updike have strong showings at IJGA Hershey Open

   Bonner-Prendergast All-Delco Quinn Dolan fired a second-round 71 and lost in a playoff for the title in the 15-to-19 division in the International Junior Golf Tour’s  IJGA Junior Open at Hershey Country Club   last weekend.
   Dolan, a senior, had opened the tourney at the 6,782-yard, par-71 Hershey Country Club layout with an 80 before matching par in the second round. His 71 earned him the Clazic Belts Low Final Round Award that goes to the male and female golfer with the lowest final round at all IJGT events.
   Dolan’s 151 total was matched by Michael Jones of Potomac, Md., who added a final-round 75 to his opening-round 76. Both players parred the first two holes of the playoff before Jones got up and down for a par on the third playoff hole to take the title.
   Also in the division, Peter Bradbeer, a Merion Golf Club member, had rounds of 87 and 70 to finish sixth at 157, Brian Isztwan, the Penn Charter freshman who won the Inter-Ac League title last fall, had rounds of 81 and 79 to finish in a tie for 11th at 160 and Cardinal O’Hara junior Alec Kerr had rounds of 88 and 80 to finish in a tie for 32nd at 168.
   John Updike of Wayne, meanwhile, took top honors in the 14-and-under division, firing rounds of 76 and 77 for a 153 total.
   Aronimink Golf Club’s Billy Civitella finished third with rounds of 80 and 77 for a 157 total and Newtown Square’s Jake Calamaro (82-81), youngest brother of 2009 PIAA champion Jackie Calamaro, and Episcopal Academy freshman Jon Nolan Perry (77-88) were in a group of three players tied for eighth at 165.
   Two of Mary Jane Wetzel’s talented group at players at Notre Dame had strong showings in the girls division.
   Olivia Traynor, who has been coming on strong in her freshman season, had rounds of 89 and 84 to finish ninth at 173 and sophomore Meghan Fahey had rounds of 84 and 93 to finish 13th at 177.
   Traynor and Fahey will likely be in the field when the Inter-Ac League Tournament tees off Wednesday at Blue Bell Country Club. Traynor fired a school-record round of even-par 36 at Sunnybrook Golf Club last week as the Irish won their sixth straight Inter-Ac team title and completed their fifth straight unbeaten run through the league.
   Caroline Rosen of Baldwin won the individual title with a 40 at Radnor Valley Country Club a year ago. Agnes Irwin’s Kaitlyn Lees won the title as a seventh-grader two years ago and was the runnerup to Rosen last year. Lees has been around so long you forget sometimes that she’s only a freshman, but she’ll be a top contender to add a second Inter-Ac title to her resume.

Friday, May 15, 2015

Covello comes home to win another Open qualifying medal

   It’s becoming a rite of spring. Dan Covello, who grew in Havertown and went to Episcopal Academy, comes home for a U.S. Open local qualifier and wins medalist honors.
   It happened again Thursday as Covello, who is pursuing his professional golf dreams on the PGA Tour’s Canada tour, showed up at Makefield Highlands Golf Club in Bucks County and tamed the 7,028-yard, par-72 layout with a 4-under 68 to claim the qualifying medal. He was the medalist in a local qualifier a year ago at Laurel Creek Country Club.
   Gregory Pieczynski, a Kingston, Pa. native who is an assistant pro in Weston, Mass., was a shot back with a 3-under 69 in, he said, his first tournament round of golf since Sept. 30 of last year.
Brian Hollins, a pro out of Fairless Hills, Golf Association of Philadelphia stalwarts Michael Brown Jr. and Michael Johnson, and Jeremy Nevius, an amateur from Mountainside, N.J., emerged from a five-for-four playoff to nab the final tickets to the 36-hole sectional qualifying.
   The U.S. Open will be played June 18 to 21 at Chambers Bay in University Place, Wash.
The 32-year-old Covello, who resides in Ponte Vedra, Fla.,  has made the local U.S. Open qualifier the perfect excuse to come home for a visit and play some golf.
   “It’s good to see the family and catch up with old friends,” Covello told the GAP website. “Philadelphia’s always a fun trip for me. I moved away from here in 2000 and I miss it.”
   Covello will be making his fifth trip to sectional qualifying and he has yet to take that final step to the National Open. He’ll give it a shot this year at Tumble Creek Club in Cle Elum, Wash., which fits in with his PGA Tour Canada schedule. He also earned playing privileges on the One-Asia Tour at its qualifying school.
   “I’ve had some nagging injuries that kept me on the sidelines the last few years,” Covello said. “This year I’m feeling good. The game’s coming along. I’m just trying to keep things simple and be happy out there.”
   Brown, who plays out of The Links Club, won the GAP Mid-Amateur in 2009 and the Philadelphia Open in 2010 on his way to earning the William Hyndman III Player of the Year Award that year.
Johnson, a year removed from an outstanding career at La Salle, moves on to the sectionals for a second straight year. He plans to turn professional later this year.
   Michael Davis, an Aronimink Golf Club member coming off a strong freshman season at Princeton, carded a 75 at Makefield Highlands. A couple of Llanerch Country Club members, Chris Hoyle and Stephen Seiden, were at 76 and 77,  respectively. An interesting name at 77 is that of T. Jay Fairlie of Broomall, who, I’m guessing, is the former football and lacrosse standout at Marple Newtown.