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Saturday, September 22, 2012

Ingraham captures Philly Section title

   Stu Ingraham is 52, but he’s not getting older, he’s getting better.
   The teaching pro at the M Golf Range in Newtown Square drained a 25-foot birdie putt on the third hole of sudden death at White Manor Country Club Friday to claim the Philadelphia Section PGA championship for the second time in his career.
   Ingraham had bogeyed the final hole of regulation to finish in a tie for first place with another of the Section’s super seniors, 60-year-old Greg Farrow, the head pro at Deerwood C.C. at 4-under 138.
   The tournament was originally scheduled to be a 54-hole event with players alternating between White Manor and St. Davids G.C. the first two days. But Tuesday’s drenching rains left St. Davids unplayable. So half the players got in their first round Wednesday, then waited while the other half of the field played Thursday. The field was then cut and the tournament concluded Friday.
   And it was Ingraham who got the job done, winning the title and all the perks that go with it, especially the $7,500 top prize. Ingraham followed up opening-round 70 with a 3-under 68 Friday to earn his place in the playoff with Farrow.
Ingraham will also lead 12 players from the section to the PGA Professional National Championship — the National Club Pro as it is commonly referred to — which will be held June 23 to 26 at the Sunriver Resort’s Crosswater and meadows course in Oregon.
   The top 20 finishers in that event, which carries a hefty $550,000 purse, will earn at spot in the PGA Championship, the last major of the year. The PGA will be held Aug. 8-11 at Oak Hill C.C. in Rochester, N.Y. Ingraham has followed that path to the PGA Championship six times in his career, most recently in 2010 when he earned a trip to Whistling Straits.
   Overbrook G.C. pro Eric Kennedy closed strong Friday with a 4-under 67 for a 3-under 139 total that left him in a tie for third. John Bierkan, the head of instruction at Aronimink G.C., was another two shots back at 1-under 141 in a tie for seventh. He had a 2-under 69 Friday.
   That means Kennedy and Bierkan will also be headed for the National Club Pro. Merion G.C. head of instruction Mark Sheftic finished at 3-over 145 and was just outside the top 12 who qualified for the National Club Pro, although he is one of the three alternates.
   Radnor Valley C.C. head pro George Forster Jr. finished at 5-over 147.
   Delco’s own Ed Dougherty is a past champion of the National Club Pro, representing the Philadelphia Section when he won.
   The other qualifiers for the National Club Pro included Rich Steinmetz, the Spring-Ford C.C. head pro who was going for three straight Philly Section titles, but came up a shot short of the playoff, Jake Gerney, Barry Dear, Travis Deibert, Terry Hatch, Brian Kelly, Dave McNabb and Rich Hughart.
Jaster powers Haverford School

   Senior Scott Jaster, Haverford School’s two-time All-Delco, took medalist honors for the day with a sparkling even-par 35 at Merion Golf Club’s West Course as the Fords again cruised to team honors in an Inter-Ac League mini-tournament hosted by Episcopal Academy Wednesday.
   Haverford School’s depth was on display again as junior Cole Berman, another returning All-Delco, struggled — if you can call it that — with a 4-over 39. Still his score counted, along with a pair of 36s registered by Timmy Brooks and Otis Baker, a 39 by Max Siegfried and a 41 by Jake Van Arkel.
   Brooks, a senior, and Baker, a sophomore, shared second place individually.
   That gave the Fords a 226 total, 10 shots better than Malvern Prep, which finished second at 236. Brendan Bacskai led the way for the Friars with a 37. He shared fourth individually with Penn Charter’s J.B. Bradbeer.
   Episcopal finished third at 242 with senior Sean Fahey and junior Andrew Janetta leading the way with 38s. Rounding out the scorers for the Churchmen were Alex Dupre with a 40, Austin Helms with a 43 and Trey Croney with a 44.

Kan, Purdue off to strong start

   Aurora Kan, the 2010 PIAA champion at Chichester and the 2010 Pennsylvania Women’s Amateur champion, finished 24th to help the Purdue women’s golf team open its season with a seven-shot victory at the Mary Fossum Invitational, which concluded Sunday.
   Kan, a sophomore on a very talented Purdue team that is ranked No. 22 in the Golf World/NGCA Preseason Coaches’ Poll, had rounds of 78, 74 and 76 for a total of 12-over 228 at the 6,236-yard, par-72 Forest Akers West Golf Course. The tournament was hosted by Michigan State.
   Kan helped Purdue post an 11-over 875 total that matched the 54-hole record for the Mary Fossum. The Boilermakers opened with a 288 and a 290 in Saturday’s first two rounds and finished up with a 297 total in Sunday’s final round.
Senior Paula Reto and freshman Margaux Vanmoi finished in a tie for fourth at 3-over 219 to lead the way for Purdue. Reto and senior Kishi Sinh were tied for first after two rounds with Reto firing rounds of 69 and 73 and Sinh posting a pair of 71s.
   Reto fell back with a 77 to share fourth with Vanmoi, the freshman from Belgium who was the 2011 British Junior Girls Amateur champion. Vanmoi had a final-round 73 after opening up with rounds of 74 and 72.
   Senior Laura Gonzalez-Escallon finished in a tie for sixth at 220 (74-75-71) and Sinh fell back to eighth at 221 with a final-round 79. Kan’s 24th-place finish gave Purdue five players in the top 25.
Freshman Brooke Beegle competed as an individual and had three straight 84s to tie for 88th at 252.
   The host Spartans took runnerup honors with an 882 (297-289-296) total. Notre Dame was another five shots in third place at 887 (298-290-299) in the 17-team field.

Pennsylvania settles for fourth
   Three players who finished in the top seven when the Pennsylvania Amateur was held at Rolling Green G.C. this summer represented the state at the USGA State Team Championship, which concluded Friday at Galloway National G.C., just outside Atlantic City, N.J.
   Andrew Mason, the former Temple standout who won his second straight state amateur title at Rolling Green, teamed with Nathan Smith, who recently won his fourth U.S. Mid-Amateur title, and Oakmont C.C. veteran Sean Knapp to finish fourth, eight shots back of team champion New York.
   The two lowest scores of the three-man teams count each day of the 54-hole event.
   Pennsylvania stood in third place, just three shots behind New York, heading into the final round following outstanding second-round scores of 71 by Smith and 73 by Knapp over the 6,963-yard, par-71 Galloway National layout.
   Knapp came in with a final-round 72, but Smith, who had to be running out of gas after successfully defending his U.S. Mid-Am title less than two weeks earlier, had a 76 and Mason couldn’t pick the team up as he posted a 78.
New York was led by 20-year-old Mike Miller, who fired a final-round 68 to lead the Empire State to a 428 total. Miller is a former Penn State player, but left the program making him eligible for this competition.
   Iowa finished second at 434, followed by Tennessee in third at 435 and then Pennsylvania in fourth, another shot back at 436.
   Smith, whose fourth U.S. Mid-Am title earlier this month was accomplished at Conway Farms G.C. in Lake Forest, Ill., is a truly remarkable story. The 34-year-old seemed something of an odd choice by George “Buddy” Marucci as the U.S. team’s “veteran” pick to fill out a roster filled with college standouts for the Walker Cup Match contested at Merion G.C.’s East Course in September of 2009.
   The Pittsburgh native did have a U.S. Mid-Am title to his name then, but he has certainly validated Buddy’s pick. First, he more than held his own in helping the U.S. retain the Walker Cup that week at Merion.
   Then a few weeks later, he added his second Mid-Am title and hasn’t looked back, taking two more Mid-Ams and again being picked to represent in the U.S. in the Walker Cup Match in 2011. His match-play record in eight U.S. Mid-Am appearances is 32-4.
   Oh yeah, and he did lead Pennsylvania to the State Team Championship title in 2009.
Smith has to be mentioned among the great amateur golfers this state has produced, including two-time U.S. Amateur champion and nine-time U.S. Walker Cupper Jay Sigel and Carol Semple Thompson, owner of seven USGA titles and 12 times a member of the U.S. Curtis Cup team.

Golf Association of Philadelphia

   A couple of notable accomplishments from GAP events last week as its 2012 schedule winds down.
   First, Mike Vassil of The Country Club of Scranton claimed the GAP’s Senior Amateur title when he made a birdie on the first hole of sudden death to beat two-time British Senior Amateur champion Chip Lutz.
   Again, Tuesday’s rains wreaked havoc with this event, shortening it to 18 holes at Wilmington C.C.’s South Course. Vassil fired a 1-under 70 to get in the playoff opposite Lutz, who has already secured the GAP Senior Player of the Year award. The 57-year-old Reading resident is very simply one of the top senior amateur players in the world.
   Frank McFadden matched par with a 71 to finish third and claim low-Overbrook honors, no easy feat with all the talented seniors who populate that membership.
   Overbrook’s Ray Thompson shared fourth place with Michael Quinn of Edgmont C.C. at 1-over 72. Rich Thon of The Springhaven Club finished in a tie for 11th with a 76 and Overbrook’s Chris Lange was another shot back in a tie for 16th at 76.
   Among those in that tie for 16th was Robert P. Billings of Rolling Green G.C.
   Billings got a bigger thrill a couple of days earlier when he teamed with his son, Robert A. Billings, to capture the Father & Son (Older) title at Whitford C.C. for the elder Billings’ first GAP victory.
   The older Billings, a 62-year-old Newtown Square resident, and his son, a 42-year-old Cherry Hill, N.J. resident, posted a 77 to match the total put up earlier in the day by Matthew Finger and Jon Finger.
   Dad picked up son when the younger Billings left him a challenging eight-footer for par to win it on the third playoff hole. But dad drained it to earn the Billingses the victory.
   Team Klagholz, Martin of Rolling Green and Marty of Aronimink, finished in a tie for fourth with an 82.
   The Super-Senior title went to Llanerch C.C.’s Neil McDermott, patriarch of Delco’s top golfing family and a past GAP president, and son Kevin.
   Neil, 65, of Newtown Square and Kevin, 35, of Conshohocken, posted a 3-over 75 to claim Super-Senior honors.

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