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Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Kan earns share of title at Lady Puerto Rico Classic

   Aurora Kan, a three-time Daily Times Player of the Year and the 2010 PIAA champion while at Chichester, got the spring portion of her junior season at Purdue off to a good start this week.
   The Boilermakers left our endless winter behind and hosted the annual Lady Puerto Rico Classic at the Rio Mar Country Club’s River Course in Rio Grande, Puerto Rico.
   Kan fired her career-best round at Purdue, a 4-under 68 over the 5,826-yard, par-72 River Course layout, in the second round of the 54-hole event to take a two-shot in the individual chase into the final round. Alabama’s Stephanie Meadow, the No. 2 ranked individual in NCAA Division I by GolfWeek, caught and passed Kan as Meadow’s second straight 68 left her at 4-under 211.
   But Kan fought back and a birdie at the final hole enabled her to share medalist honors with Meadow. That putt gave Kan a final-round of even-par 72 as she matched Meadow’s 211 total. Kan opened the tournament with a 1-under 71 on her way to a career-best 54-hole total.
   It was the second career victory for Kan, who captured the Butler Fall Invitational last fall, but that was a 36-hole event and the Lady Puerto Rico had a field that included six of the top-25 teams in the country. Kan’s victory also earned her a co-Big Ten Player of the Week honor.
   Kan also helped the Boilermakers finish in a tie for sixth in the team standings at 893. Purdue got off to a rough start with an opening-round 306, but led by Kan’s career-best 68 in the second round, the Boilermakers improved 15 shots to 291. A final-round 296 left Purdue tied with Alabama and N.C. State for sixth.
   Arkansas, led by Gaby Lopez (73-8-73—214), who finished third, and Emma Lavy (73-68-75—216), who finished tied for fourth, won the team title with rounds of 288, 283 and 296 for an 867 total. That was 14 shots clear of runnerup Georgia Regents University Augusta.
   Kan is the leader of a young group of Boilermakers, but they certainly showed some potential in Puerto Rico. Freshman August Kim fired a final round of 1-over 73, a career best, to finish in a tie for 34th at 227. She was joined at that figure by Anna Appert Lund, a sophomore transfer from Morehead State. Lund, a Swede, also saved her best round for last, a 3-over 75 in the final round.
   Junior Johanna Tillstrom, another Swede, finished in a tie for 59th at 233, two shots ahead of sophomore Brooke Beegle, who was in a tie for 63rd at 235. Beegle bounced back from an opening-round 86 with solid rounds of 73 and 76. And Ashley Yarbrough, a freshman transfer from Coastal Carolina, competed as an individual and started off with rounds of 74 and 73 before faltering a little in the final round with an 83. Still, her 230 total left her in a tie for 46th.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Allred, Harman, Tringale bring back memories

   If you were watching the early part of the broadcast of the Northern Trust Open (in the blogosphere you can call it what it is, the L.A. Open), you might have heard Jim Nantz mention that one of the contenders, Jason Allred, had won the U.S. Junior Amateur in 1997 at Aronimink Golf Club.
   I was working at the Daily Times when the ’97 Junior was at Aronimink, but I didn’t cover it. Bob Lentz, who went on to The Associated Press, was doing most of our golf coverage in those days. But I’ve always marveled at the talent that was arrayed at the Donald Ross gem in Newtown Township that week.
   Two Masters champions emerged from that field, South African Trevor Immelman, who lost to Allred in the final at Aronimink, and Australian Adam Scott, who will be the defending champion at Augusta in a few short weeks.
   A 15-year-old Sean O’Hair lost to Immelman in the semifinals at Aronimink. I’ve always thought it was a little ironic that O’Hair, who embarked on a long and winding road after that U.S. Junior that eventually led him to Sun Valley All-Delco golfer Jackie Lucas, had that tremendous junior success in the very county which would so embrace him after he married into the Lucas family. By the time the AT&T National made its brief two-year stop at Aronimink beginning in 2010, O’Hair was a member of the club.
   One of O’Hair’s best pals from his junior days, Hunter Mahan, was also in that field at Aronimink and he’s done all right for himself. He was in the last group at two major championships in 2013, including the U.S. Open at Merion, and it seems just a matter of time before he becomes the third major champion to come out of that Junior field at Aronimink.
   But it was Allred who won that week and it seems like he’s been banging around on golf’s fringes ever since. He was a Monday qualifier at Riviera Country Club this week and it was nice to see him play so solidly in the final round Sunday. Maybe it’s the start of something bigger for a guy whose career held so much promise at Aronimink 16 summers ago.
   Speaking of Merion, a guy who finished tied with Allred for third at Riviera Sunday was Brian Harman. He was all of 18 and a U.S. Walker Cup team member when he teed it up at the historic East Course for the 2005 U.S. Amateur.
   I can’t remember how he did that week, but I do remember hanging out at 13, the little par-3 along the driveway at the East Course, during one of the practice rounds and watching all these great players hit wedges into one of the toughest short par-3s you’ll find. One of them was Brian Harman and his family was there, too. It was a neat scene and it just goes to show you, you never know what future star you might see on his or her way up in a practice round at a U.S. Amateur.
   Oh yeah, speaking of Merion and the Walker Cup, the guy who holed the eagle from the fairway that made ESPN’s top plays Saturday was none other than Cameron Tringale, the same Cameron Tringale who was a member of the U.S. Walker Cup team that defeated Great Britain & Ireland at Merion in 2009.
   The same Cameron Tringale who was a Georgia Tech teammate of Radnor’s Adam Cohan, a three-time Daily Times Player of the Year and the 2002 PIAA champion. I thought if I headed out to a Tringale match that weekend, I might run into Adam Cohan and sure enough I did.
   I always remember Adam telling me that Tringale visualized every shot he took going into the hole and Saturday at Riviera one did just that.
   Adam also introduced me to Cameron’s mom and I’ve always remembered how worried she was about how her son would fare as he headed for the next level of professional golf. Well, he’s done OK and he seems to be off to a very solid start this year. He was one of six players who finished in a tie for 12th at the L.A. Open at 8-under par.
   It’s funny the people you come across covering golf in Delaware County. But the play of Jason Allred, Brian Harman and Cameron Tringale this weekend brought back some memories and it’s always nice to have some golfers to root for,  besides the guys on my fantasy team, of course.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

National Club Pro coming to the Cricket Club in 2015

   Between Monday’s snowstorm and Wednesday’s ice storm, this little bit of good golf news blew into a Daily Times email inbox like the warm spring breezes to come.
   Philadelphia Cricket Club, not far from the border with Philadelphia in Montgomery County, has a long and illustrious history, which includes hosting the 1907 and 1910 U.S. Opens.
   Joining a recent trend that will bring the 2016 U.S. Women’s Amateur to Rolling Green Golf Club right here in Delaware County and the 2016 U.S. Middle Amateur Championship to Stonewall in Chester County, the PGA will stage the 48th PGA Professional National Championship, presented by Club Car, Mercedes-Benz and OMEGA, to the Cricket Club June 21-24, 2015.
   The National Club Pro, the moniker by which the event was known for many years, brings together the top club professionals from around the country. In addition to the most lucrative purse the club pros play for, there is the added incentive of a berth in the PGA Championship later in the summer for the top 20 finishers.
   Mark Sheftic, the head of instruction at Merion Golf Club, earned his third trip to the PGA Championship last summer with a tie for fourth at the National Club Pro at the Sunriver Resort in Sunriver, Ore. Stu Ingraham, the teaching pro at the M Golf Range in Newtown Square, has taken the National Club Pro route to the PGA Championship six times in his career.
   The Cricket Club boasts two great layouts, one, the Wissahickon Course (formerly known as the Flourtown), is a classic A.W. Tillinghast and the other, the Militia Hill Course, is the work of Dr. Michael Hurdzan and Dana Fry.
   The Cricket Club was formed in 1854 and its first nine-hole layout, the St. Martins, was built by Willie Tucker and still exists as a nine-hole course. Nine holes were added to the original St. Martins and that’s the course over which the two early Opens were played.
   Tillinghast’s Wissahickon course was completed in 1922 and the Hurdzan’s and Fry’s work in creating the Militia Hill course was completed in 2002.
   I covered a Philadelphia Section PGA Championship at the Wissahickon Course, probably in 1978 or thereabouts. Delco’s own Eddie Dougherty dominated the tournament until a sore hand derailed his chances. Pretty sure Mike Nilon won that in a four-way playoff in  fading daylight, but the course was a gem, in much the same way that so many of its neighbors are, like Whitemarsh Valley and Sunnybrook and Manufacturers.
   I’ve covered a pair of Inter-Ac Tournaments at the Militia Hill course, one won by Haverford School’s Michael Kania and one won by Haverford School’s Cole Berman, and found it long and demanding. Berman, by the way, is a member at the Cricket Club and won the decisive point that gave the club the Golf Association of Philadelphia Team Match title last spring.
   The 312-player National Club Pro field will alternate courses in the first two rounds with the final 36 holes being contested at the Wissahickon Course after the field is cut.
   “It’s exciting to have our PGA National Professional Championship coming to Philadelphia Cricket Club, a venue that connects much of the early history of golf in this country with the design excellence of A.W. Tillinghast, who was a key adviser at our founding nearly a century ago,” said Ted Bishop, president of the PGA of America, in a PGA release this week. “Our talented field of PGA professionals will find a great test at Philadelphia Cricket Club and we anticipate that an outstanding champion will be crowned in 2015.”
   Bob Bauer is the Philadelphia Cricket Club 2015 Tournament Chair and is anxious to see how some renovations to the Wissahickon Course will hold up against a talented field of club pros.
   “We’re very honored to host the 2015 PGA National Professional Championship, with our historic Wissahickon Course designed by our legendary member, A.W. Tillinghast,” Bauer said. “After years of research and planning, the club hired Keith Foster, a Tillinghast golf course restoration specialist, to return the original and distinctive features to the course and bring it up to date to account for changes in golf technology.
   “We are confident this historic course will provide a worthy test for the finest PGA professionals competing in this prestigious championship. We look forward to welcoming the PGA of America in 2015.”
   Foster’s work is expected to be completed this spring.
   The 7,119-yard, par-70 Wissahickon course has been the site of numerous Golf Association of Philadelphia and Philadelphia Section PGA events since its opening. The 7,199-yard, par-72 Militia Hill layout has regularly appeared on lists of top 25 courses in Pennsylvania since its arrival on the scene a little more than a decade ago.
   “We have a fantastic membership that I know is looking forward to hosting this national championship,” said Jim Smith Jr., PGA director of golf at the Cricket Club. “Wissahickon and Militia Hill are two distinctly different courses, but complement each other so well.
   “Militia Hill received rave reviews for its design and conditioning while hosting multiple section and Golf Association of Philadelphia events. Our membership is confident that the restoration of Wissahickon will have this Tillinghast design mentioned as one of his finest classic courses.”