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Friday, July 20, 2012

Llanerch loses one of its biggest boosters


   It was June 2002 and I was wandering around the parking lot at Llanerch Country Club looking for Billy Stewart, whom I was going to interview after he had won the Philadelphia Amateur championship a few weeks after graduating from Malvern Prep.
   I had never been to Llanerch and didn’t really know my way around. A cart screeched to a halt next to me and all of a sudden I wasn’t lost at all. It was my cousin Joe McNichol. I apprised him of my situation. He called Billy The Kid on his cell phone and told me Stewart was stuck in traffic, but was on his way. Joe then showed me where to wait in the clubhouse and then was off to practice for, if I recall, an upcoming Member-Guest weekend.
   Last week I lost my cousin and Llanerch lost one of its biggest boosters when Joe McNichol died much too young at age 61.
   When you grow up Irish Catholic, it can be tough to keep in contact with even first cousins. I didn’t see Joe that much, we certainly didn’t travel in the same circles. But he was aware I was covering golf for the Daily Times and he recognized me immediately that day and was a big help.
   He had an ulterior motive, too. He figured I was going to give some positive pub to his favorite place, Llanerch.
It was at Llanerch where I most often ran into Joe. He was there when Llanerch hosted qualifying for the 2005 U.S. Amateur at Merion and when Llanerch’s Jeff Osberg won the U.S. Amateur qualifying medal last summer. He was there for the 2009 Patterson Cup.
   But it was in 2008 when Joe was the chairman for Llanerch’s 50th anniversary celebration of the 1958 PGA Championship, that he really showed how much he cared about getting Llanerch its due among the fine courses in Delaware County and in the Philadelphia area.
  I put together a nice story about the 1958 PGA for which Joe complimented me and that meant a lot coming from him. But, working with former Norristown Times Herald sports editor Tony Leodora, Joe put together enough material on the ’58 PGA that the story wrote itself.
   At times, Llanerch’s legacy might get overshadowed in an area where so much golf history has been made. But not to Joe McNichol, who devoted a lot of his time and energy to making sure as many as people as possible knew that Llanerch has a pretty rich tradition in its own right.

 

Philadelphia PGA Junior Tour


   Springfield junior Brian Todaro continued his strong play this summer as he fired a 7-over 79 to finish second in the 16-to-18 age group in a match of cards as the Philadelphia PGA Junior Tour made a stop Monday at Whitford C.C.
  “My putting was off, but my ball-striking was good,” Todaro told the Philadelphia PGA website. “I also had two chip-ins for birdie.”
   Ryan Bowman of Newtown Square finished in a tie for fifth with an 83. Cardinal O’Hara junior Kevin George finished in a tie for ninth with an 85. And Jake Hudock of Glen Mills finished in a tie for 17th with an 88.
   In the 13-to-15 division, Griffin Colvin of Media finished third with an 80.
   In the girls 13-to-15 division, Radnor sophomore Julia Curley finished second with an 80. Radnor junior Julianne Horgan finished third in the 16-to-18 division with a 100.
   Among the nine-holers, John Updike of Wayne finished in a tie for first with Nikita Romanov of Wilmington, Del., as each carded 43.

   In a Philadelphia PGA Junior Tour stop Tuesday at Laurel Creek C.C., Harry Bellwoar of Newtown Square finished sixth in the 13-to-15 division with an 82.
   Gabriella Kim of Wayne finished fifth among the nine-holers with a 47.

   In a Philadelphia PGA Junior Tour stop Wednesday at Honeybrook G.C., Christian Dambly of Media finished in a tie for 12th in the 16-to-18 division with a 78.
   Other Delco finishers in the division included: John Miller of Wayne (83); Cardinal O’Hara junior Nicholas Familetti (85); and Jake Hudock of Glen Mills (85).
   Colvin finsihed in a tie for fourth in the 13-to-15 division with a 77.
   Among the nine-holers, Gabriella Kim of Wayne finished fourth with a 41 and Jacob Calamaro of Newtown Square finished in a tie for fifth with a 42.

Patterson Cup qualifying

   Andrew Caldwell of host The Springhaven Club led a strong Delco contingent that earned berths in next month’s Patterson Cup in a qualifying round Thursday.
   Caldwell fired a 1-under 69 on his home course to finish in a tie for second behind medalist Thomas Fisher of North Hills C.C., a junior at Hatboro-Horsham.
   Also earning spots in the Patterson Cup, which will be played Aug. 9 and 10 at Philadelphia C.C., were: Haverford School All-Delco Cole Berman (70); Llanerch C.C.’s Kevin McDermott (70); Overbrook G.C.’s Oscar Mestre (71); Overbrook’s Chris Lange Jr. (72); and Rolling Green G.C.’s Alex Dupre (73), an Episcopal Academy senior.

Philadelphia Section PGA

   One of the most anticipated stops on the Philadelphia Section PGA circuit is the William Hyndman III Memorial Classic, for both the site, Huntingdon Valley C.C., and for the tournament’s namesake, the late patriarch of one of the Philadelphia area’s most accomplished golfing families.
   Monday’s event took an added significance with the death last week of William “Bucky” Hyndman IV, son of the tournament namesake and an outstanding player in his own right.
   Joe Kogelman, an assistant pro at Indian Valley C.C., claimed the Hyndman Memorial title by firing a 4-under 66 over the challenging 6,800-yard, par-70 Huntingdon Valley layout.
   Stu Ingraham, the teaching pro at M Golf Range in Newtown Square, was one of four players who finished in a tie for second at 2-under 68.

Kan heads for collegiate tourney

   Boothwyn resident Aurora Kan, the 2010 Pennsylvania Women’s Amateur and PIAA champion, will join up with Kishi Sinha to represent Purdue at the third annual Pure Silk Women’s Collegiate Team Championship beginning July 31 at the Wedgewood G.&C.C. in Powell, Ohio.
   Kan, a three-time Daily Times Player of the Year at Chichester, is coming off a solid freshman campaign at Purdue as she helped a young Boilermakers squad finish ninth at the NCAA Tournament. Kan saved the low round of her freshman season for the third round at the nationals, a 69 that helped Purdue surge into contention for the team crown.
Sinha, a redshirt senior from India, competed in all 11 events for the Boilermakers.
   The teams at the Pure Silk will play alternate shot the first day, better-ball the second day and aggregate score of both players on the final day of the 54-hole event.
   Episcopal Academy product Amanda Terzian will team with Andrea Slane to represent the University of Delaware.
The event will be preceded by a collegiate-amateur event that will benefit A Kid Again, an Ohio-based charity that provided fun-filled group activities for children with life-threatening illnesses and their families.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Team tilte old hat for Overbrook

   Overbrook Golf Club’s talented veterans teamed with some of its young guns on their home track July 1 to sweep to its third straight Golf Association of Philadelphia Team Championship.
   Overbrook piled up 28.5 points in a format that included foursome matches in the morning and singles matches in the afternoon. Commonwealth National G.C. was second with 14.5 points, Philadelphia Cricket Club was third with 17 and Tavistock C.C. was fourth with 12.
   It was Overbrook’s 15th outright team crown, three more than Huntingdon Valley owns. Overbrook also shared two other team titles.
   “When we got in the queue four years ago to host this event, we wondered if we would still be able to compete health- and ability-wise when the date of 2012 finally came around,” Overbrook captain Oscar Mestre told the GAP website.
   "Fast-forwarding to today, it appears that the veterans’ age- and experience-wise still can play and our youth are more than ready to be the new leaders. But honestly, three or four years ago, and as recently as the qualifier a month ago, there were no guarantees that we would even qualify for the final we were to host.”
   At 52, Mestre is actually the youngest of Overbrook’s old guard that includes Chris Lange, 57, Ray Thompson, 60, Frank McFadden, 62, and Ray’s older brother Andy Thompson, 63.
   Overbrook’s youngsters include Lange’s son, 28-year-old Chris Lange Jr. and the Kania brothers, 23-year-old James Jr. and 21-year-old Michael.
   James Kania Jr., a former University of Kentucky standout, was the 2005-06 Daily Times Player of the Year at The Haverford School. Michael, who followed his brother to Kentucky before transferring to Villanova and leading the Main Line Wildcats to back-to-back third-place finishes in the Big East Tournament, is a two-time Haverford School All-Delco. Michael has another year of eligibility left at Villanova.

Berman ties for 11th at Pinehurst

 
   Haverford School All-Delco Cole Berman had a strong showing at the North & South Junior at the Pinehurst Resort in North Carolina, an event that concluded Thursday.
   Berman, a junior, finished in a tie for 11th with a 213 total in the 54-hole event. He opened with a 73 at the Centennial Pinehurst No. 8 course and followed with a pair of 70s at Pinehurst No. 5 and Pinehurst No. 4, respectively.
   Berman’s two-week stay in North Carolina began last week when he finished in a tie for 57th in the American Junior Golf Association’s (AJGA) Golf Pride Junior Classic at the Mid Pines Inn and G.c. in Southern Pines, N.C.
   Berman had rounds of 73, 75 and 72 for a 220 total against a strong AJGA field.

Soeth comes on strong

   The AJGA was a little closer to home this week with the playing of the William Penn Junior Championship, held at the Stonewall Links in northern Chester County.
   Marple Newtown’s Sam Soeth teed it up in the event that concluded Thursday. After struggling with an opening-round 82, Soeth posted a 74 and a 75 for a 231 total that left him a tie for 41st.
Senior Four-Man Team

   The Springhaven Club foursome of Andrew Harmer, Curt Fromal, John Turner and Rich Thon carded a 6-under 138 total at Royersford C.C. Thursday to finish in a tie for second in the Golf Association of Philadelphia’s Senior Four-Man Team event.
   The quartet finished second by a shot to a strong foursome of Art Jacoby and John Hubbert III from Commonwealth National G.C., David Brookerson from Huntingdon Valley C.C. and Alan Van Horn from Sandy Run C.C.
   Jack Quinn from Aronimink G.C. and the McCall G.&C.C. trio of Jonn Stein, Rick Bunn and William McCabe Jr. took top honors in the net scoring in a match of cards after they posted a 127 total. The net winners had posted a 145 gross total, good for a ninth-place finish overall.
Major developments

 
The 2013 U.S. Open tees off at Merion Golf Club’s East Course in 335 days. Meanwhile, we’re right in the middle of major season for the summer of 2012 with a major tournament pretty much every weekend on one of the tours. Here’s some of the recent highlights. The AT&T National was played for the second and final time in its two-year run at Aronimink G.C. in the week leading up to the Fourth of July last year.
   Apparently CBS made a request to ease up on the setup of the Donald Ross gem for Saturday’s third round. What followed was some pretty remarkable fireworks, led by Nick Watney, who threw a nifty little 62 up on the board on his way to the title.
   A guy who I was only vaguely aware of, Webb Simpson, was one of the players who got in on the fun, firing a 64 on his way to a tie for eighth.
   The rest of the summer, that name just kept popping up and he was one of the hottest players on the PGA Tour by the time the FedEx “playoffs” got under way.
   So it was hardly surprising to see him gut out a pair of weekend 68s at The Olympic Club that made him the man who will be the defending champion when the U.S. Open comes to Delco next year.
It was hard not to root for Jim Furyk, who was born in Chester County Hospital and whose dad was a club pro at both West Chester C.C. and Edgmont C.C. before putting down more permanent roots in Lancaster County.
   But Furyk just couldn’t bring it home on the back nine at Olympic and Simpson’s birdie barrage in the middle of his final round was good enough to hold off two Open champions, Furyk and Graham McDowell.
   If Simpson was comfortable at Aronimink, Merion’s famed East Course should suit his game as well.
 It’s hard to imagine a better Pennsylvania story than a guy from District One, Plymouth-Whitemarsh to be exact, holding off Tom Lehman and Mark Calcavecchia at Fox Chapel C.C. in suburban Pittsburgh to capture a Champions Tour major, the Senior Players Championship.
   But that’s exactly what Joe Daley did a couple of weeks ago. His victory was overshadowed by that Tiger fella winning the AT&T National in its return from Aronimink to Congressional, but Daley was rock solid in staring down guys with major-championship credentials on their resumes to win the tournament.
   Maybe he was an “overnight sensation” to some, but Daley just kept playing anywhere he could — minitours, Asia, Nationwide (oh yeah, that became the Web.com Tour since my last blog post), you name it, he’s played it — and he was more than ready when his major moment arrived.
   Joe Daley is proof of something a lot of us who follow the game closely already know: There are so many good players out there, it’s ridiculous. I know, the people who seek advertising revenue for their TV broadcasts only care what Tiger and Phil and Rory are doing, but a lot of us get a kick out of watching a Joe Daley do his thing.
 Na Yeon Choi came into the U.S. Women’s Open last weekend at Blackwolf Run as one of the top-five ranked women in the world.
   Then the 24-year-old South Korean put on a putting display during a brilliant third-round 65 that made you realize why she is such a great player.
   For the life of me, I can’t understand why more people, especially people who enjoy golf, don’t pay more attention to the LPGA.
   Yes, there are a lot of Asian women at the highest level of the game. But Choi, in particular, has made an extra effort to speak English, to make people more aware of the winning personality she brings with her top-level game.
   When she’s playing, Choi seems utterly unflappable. Her expression remains the same whether she just made birdie or double bogey. But there was no mistaking her smile when she finally claimed the biggest prize in women’s golf.
   She’s hardly physically imposing. But make no mistake about it, Na Yeon Choi can really play.