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Saturday, September 27, 2014

A big week in high school golf is on tap

   It’s a big week on the high school golf scene as league tournaments begin the postseason and a huge dual match looms in the Central League.
   First, the top Central League players will gather Monday at Turtle Creek Golf Club for the league tournament. The battle among the boys for those valuable tickets to the District One Tournament, back at the Turtle a week later, is always interesting and, inevitably, a player or two who nobody thought wouldn’t be teeing it up at districts sees his season, at least individually, come to an end.
   Among the top contenders for individual honors at the Central tournament will likely be defending champion Erik Reisner of Harriton, Conestoga’s Andrew Wilner, who ended up with a silver medal in Class AAA at the PIAA Tournament a year ago, Penncrest’s Griffin Colvin, who finished in a tie for second at Centrals a year ago, and Radnor’s Paul Yun, who has gone low at the Turtle a couple of times in his career.
   Among the girls, Radnor junior All-Delco Brynn Walker, a North Carolina commit, always seems to play well at Turtle Creek. Walker fired a 2-under 70 at Centrals last year and went to a runnerup finish at districts and a share of fifth place at the PIAA Tournament.  A couple of her Radnor teammates, Julia Curley and Gabby Kim, also figure to be among the top finishers as does Garnet Valley’s Annika Vandayar, who has been one of the league’s top female players throughout her career with the Jaguars.
   Wednesday at Waynesborough Country Club, Radnor and Conestoga will meet with – I’m fairly certain – the Central League title on the line. I’m pretty sure neither has lost a league match this fall. Conestoga had a long match win streak snapped by Episcopal Academy this season and Radnor’s only dual-match loss came at the hands of another Inter-Ac League power, Haverford School.
   With Radnor not fielding a girls team this season, the Raiders get a powerful addition to their lineup in Walker, who qualified for the U.S. Girls Junior and U.S. Women’s Amateur and won a pair of AJGA titles this summer.
   In the Catholic League, Bonner-Prendie All-Delco Quinn Dolan  will defend the title he won a year ago back at LuLu Country Club Tuesday. Jack Glacken’s Friars will also be involved in the team chase at LuLu, although St. Joseph’s Prep looks like it might be tough to beat. And don’t be surprised if Cardinal O’Hara’s Alec Kerr shows up on the leaderboard at LuLu.
   As I mentioned in my last post while updating goings-on in the Inter-Ac League, two of the league’s mini-tournaments are scheduled on back-to-back days this week, Tuesday at Huntingdon Valley Country Club and Wednesday at Sunnybrook Golf Club.

Havertown’s Smith second at Hidden Creek

   With  most of the high school players gearing up for the postseason, the nine-holers took center stage in a Philadelphia PGA Junior Tour stop on a picture-perfect day for golf Saturday at Hidden Creek Golf Club in Egg Harbor Township, N.J.
   Hayden Smith of Havertown carded a 46 to finish second among the nine-holers, a shot back of division winner Win Thomas of Coatesville.
   Roy Anderson of Chadds Ford finished in a tie for third with a 47, Owen Harvey of Havertown finished in a tie for sixth with a 51 and Ryan Harvey of Havertown finished ninth with a 60.
Jack Hirsh of Villanova finished third in the 16-to-18 division with an 86. Alexander Covelli of Cherry Hill, N.J. took top honors with a 76.
   David Hurley of Newtown Square fired an 86 to finish in a tie for fifth in the 13-to-15 age group. Top honors in that division went to Shravann Raja of  Moorestown, N.J. with a 79.
   Also in the division, Aj Aivazoglou of Glen Mills finished 12th with an 88, Matthew Barkann of Newtown Square was 13th with a 91 and Alec Stern of Bryn Mawr finished 21st with a 110.

Friday, September 26, 2014

Haverford School puts its depth on display to take over first place

   We snuck a little roundup from Tuesday’s Inter-Ac League mini-tournament hosted by Malvern Prep at Waynesborough Country Club in Wednesday’s Daily Times print product, but there certainly wasn’t enough room in print to figure out what it all meant.
   Yes, Haverford Ford topped the team standings with a 223 total, but probably just as important, Episcopal Academy edged the host Friars for second, 233-234. That means the Fords are in first place with a 9-1 mark through two mini-tournaments while defending champion Malvern Prep falls back to 8-2 with its third-place finish.
   In a testament to the depth that Gui Costin’s club has at Haverford School, Jay Losty, one of the Fords’ best players and a senior leader, had their worst score with a 42 and didn’t count toward their 223 total. As was noted in Wednesday’s Daily Times, Jack McAleese, who didn’t even tee it up in Haverford School’s first Inter-Ac mini-tournament, led the way with a 36. Max Siegfried, Matt Grubb, Ryan Bowman and Otis Baker all had 38s and Peter Garno added a 40.
   Malvern Prep has three of the top four players in the individual standings after two mini-tournaments, led by Nick Miller in first, Marty McGuckin, who is tied for second with Episcopal’s Joe Chambers, and Brendan Bacskai, who is in fourth place.
   But Haverford School’s depth is going to make it tough to beat as the Fords try to reclaim the Inter-Ac crown they had won three straight years before Malvern Prep denied them a year ago.
By the way, the reason I know most of this is because the interacgolf.com website is up and running again after running out of steam near the end of last season.
   It’s a big week coming up for the Inter-Ac golfers with a pair of mini-tournaments back-to-back at Huntingdon Valley Country Club Tuesday and at Sunnybrook Golf Club Wednesday.

Sheftic wins Shawnee Open 

   Mark Sheftic, the head of instruction at Merion Golf Club, fired a 4-under 68 at the Shawnee Inn & Golf Resort course between the raindrops Thursday to capture the Shawnee Open title.
   Sheftic had four birdies and three bogeys in an eventful front nine, then added three birdies without a bogey on the back nine to edge Spring-Ford Country Club head pro Rich Steinmetz by a shot.
   “I played really good through the day, but as my round went on, I definitely learned to adjust my shots for the weather,” Sheftic told the Philadelphia Section PGA website. “The  best part of my round today was the putts I was able to make. My putting has been an issue for me this year, so it was great to finally get it going.”
   Steinmetz, whom your favorite golf blogger covered when he was a high school standout at Perkiomen Valley in the 1980s,  played in the morning wave when the weather was not the best, but carded a 3-under 69 and held the lead for much of the day until Sheftic reported in with his 68.
   The Merion Golf Club pro shop was well-represented among the top finishers. Assistants George Forster, son of the Radnor Valley Country Club head pro, and William Cicciotti, were among five players tied for third at 2-under 70. And assistant pro Robby Bruns was another shot back in a tie for eighth at 1-under 71.
   Among some of the other top finishers were: George Forster’s dad, Radnor Valley head pro George Forster, and The ACE Club assistant pro Billy Stewart, who were among four players tied for 13th at 1-over 73; Media resident John Allen of TaylorMade Golf and Radnor Valley assistant pro Tony Perla, both of whom were among five players tied for 24th at 3-over 75; and M Golf Range head teaching pro Stu Ingraham, who was among eight players tied for 29th at 4-over 76.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Smith, Updike flash their potential at Elite Tour event

   The Philadelphia Section PGA Junior Tour staged an Elite Tour event over the weekend at The Rookery North course in Milford, Del.
   Unlike other Junior Tour events, there is no breakdown by age groups with boys and girls ages 13 to 18 all competing against one another.
   While many of the top scholastic players are concentrating on the high school season, a couple of future standouts showed off their games over the 6,393-yard, par-70 layout at The Rookery North.
Kevin Smith of Wallingford was the lone Class of 2020 player in the event and all he did was shoot rounds of 83 and 78 for a 161 total that left him in a tie for seventh. He was joined at that figure by Wayne’s John Updike, one of three Class of 2019s in the field. Updike had rounds of 81 and 80 to match Smith’s 161 total.
   Nicholas Gianelos of West Chester took top honors among the boys with rounds of 75 and 77 for a 152 total.
   Garnet Valley senior Michael Stanilka chose to keep his game sharp for the scholastic postseason by teeing it up at The Rookery North and  he finished ninth, a shot back Smith and Updike, with rounds of 85 and 77 for a 162 total.
   Chichester sophomore Caprian Kan also made the trip to Delaware and was unopposed in taking the girls division with rounds of 78 and 89 for a 167 total. Like Stanilka, Kan took the opportunity to keep her game sharp with the high school postseason only a couple of weeks away.

Kan, Purdue take sixth at the East & West Match Play Challenge

   Aurora Kan, the 2010 PIAA champion as a senior at Chichester, has begun her senior season at Purdue and the Boilermakers wrapped a sixth-place finish in the East & West Match Play Challenge, which concluded Monday at the University of  Michigan ‘s Radrick Farms course.
   Kan was undoubtedly keeping half an eye on the LPGA event in Alabama as her teammate from a Purdue team that finished third at the NCAA Tournament two years ago, Paula Reto, was in contention all weekend. Reto, a native of South Africa, finished third in the Yokohama Tire LPGA Classic behind Mi Jung Hur and Stacy Lewis, the No. 1 player in the world.
   With the women’s NCAA Tournament going the way of the men next spring, that is the champion will be determined at match play after stroke play qualifying, the event at Michigan was a chance to get a feel for that kind of format.
   Kan, one of only two seniors on a young team that seems to have a lot of potential, had the best finish for Purdue in Saturday’s 36-hole stroke play qualifying. She had rounds of 75 and 76 for a 151 total that left her in a tie for 16th overall.
   Purdue’s team scores of 308 and 303 made the Boilermakers the seventh seed and dropped them into the consolation bracket for the match-play portion of the event. They earned an opening-round match with Big Ten foe Iowa, the sixth seed.
   A 3-2 victory over the Hawkeyes gave Purdue a shot at fifth place. Kan was one of three Purdue winners against Iowa as she rallied from a 3-down deficit after six holes to defeat Jessie Sindlinger, 3 and 1. Sophomore August Kim edged Shelby Phillips, 1-up, and freshman Linn Andersson, one of    three Swedes on the Purdue roster, claimed a hard-fought 2 and 1 decision over Amy Ihm
   Purdue’s bid for fifth was denied in a 3-2 loss to the University of Miami Monday.
   The Boilermakers got wins from Kim, who rallied from a 3-down deficit after nine holes to win five of the next eight holes in a 2 and 1 victory over Kailey Walsh, and Marta Martin, a freshman  from Spain who had to go to the 19th hole to edge the Hurricanes’ Daniela Darquea. Kan suffered a 5 and 3 setback at the hands of Leticia Ras-Anderica.
   The senior season for Kan, a three-time Daily Times Player of the Year, opened last week at the Minnesota Invitational, hosted by Big Ten rival Minnesota at the Minikanda Club.
   Kan had rounds of 77, 71 and 79 to finish in a tie for 19th at 227. Junior Anna Appert Lund, another of the Swedes on the Purdue roster, was the low woman for the Boilers at the Minikanda Club with rounds of 71, 74 and 77 to finish in a tie for eighth at 222.
   Purdue had team scores of 308, 292 and 310 for a 910 total that left the Boilermakers in sixth place.
   Kan crossed paths with Kansas senior Gabby DiMarco, one of the two players Kan beat in a playoff at that 2010 PIAA Tournament when DiMarco was a senior at West Chester East, at the Minnesota Invitational.
   DiMarco had a strong showing at the  Minikanda Club with rounds of 71, 74 and 76 for a 221 total that left her in a tie for sixth. DiMarco led the Jayhawks to a third-place finish at 905.
   East Carolina ran away with the team title as the Pirates’ 879 total was 21 shots better than runnerup Colorado, which finished at 900.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Forster beats Ingraham in a playoff to take Philadelphia Section PGA title

   A couple of old guys who can really play, Radnor Valley Country Club head pro George Forster and M Golf Range head of instruction Stu Ingraham, were the only two players left standing after the regulation 54 holes of the Philadelphia Section PGA championship Thursday at Llanerch Country Club.
   It took three more holes and a birdie by Forster to finally decide the issue in Forster’s favor, but there is no doubt that these two guys have to be among the most talented over-50 club pros in the country.
   Forster competed in the Senior PGA Championship for the sixth time two years ago at Harbor Shores in Benton Harbor, Mich. and earned a spot in the U.S. Senior Open at Omaha Country Club in 2013. Ingraham was 52 two years ago when the defeated Greg Farrow in a playoff to win the Section PGA championship and clinch Player of the Year honors in the section for the second straight year.
   And there they were Thursday, showing all the youngsters how it’s done.
   Forster, who was three back of a trio of co-leaders coming into the final round, carded a 1-under 70 at Llanerch for a 1-over 214 total. Ingraham, who was only one back at the beginning of the day, posted a 1-over 72 to match Forster at 214.
   Both players will lead a sizable Delco contingent that will tee it up in the PGA Professional National Championship in 2015 and they won’t have far to go to play in that event. The National Club Pro – the old-school name of the event – will be staged at Philadelphia Cricket Club’s two great courses – the classic A.J. Tillinghast-designed Wissahickon Course and the new Militia Hill Course – June 28 to July 1. Those dates are a week later than what I’ve been reporting this week, but there’s a little time to work on that discrepancy.
   When Ingraham qualified for the 2013 National Club Pro with his victory in the 2012 Philadelphia Section tourney, he told me he it was his 23rd national PGA championship, fifth best in the history of the PGA, so his appearance at the Cricket Club will make it 24. The top 20 finishers at the Cricket Club will earn berths in the 2015 PGA Championship, professional golf’s final major of the year which returns to Whistling Straits in Kohler, Wis.
   Six times in his career Ingraham has qualified for the PGA out of the National Club Pro.
Also earning spots in the field at the Cricket Club next year with high finishes Thursday were: Aronimink Golf Club assistant pro Patrick Clark, whose 1-under 70 matched Forster for the low round of the day and gave him a share of fifth place at 3-over 216; Merion Golf Club assistant pro Robby Bruns, who had a 73 to finish in a tie for eighth at 4-over 217; Concord Country Club head pro Mike Moses, who had a 76 and also finished in that tie for eighth at 217; and Merion director of instruction Mark Sheftic, who had a 75 and nabbed the 13th and final berth at 5-over 218.
   Sheftic has advanced out of the National Club Pro to the PGA Championship three times in the last five years.
   Applebrook Golf Club head pro Dave McNabb, who began the day tied at the top with Moses and Colonial Golf Club’s Rob Shuey, had a 75 and was in that group at 5-over with Aronimink’s Clark. McNabb will be seeking a third straight PGA Championship berth when he tees it up at the Cricket Club next summer.
   Aronimink head of instruction John Bierkan finished just outside that top 13. He had a final-round 74 to finish in a tie for 15th at 6-over 219.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Moses still tied for lead; Berman wins in collegiate debut

   Concord Country Club head pro Mike Moses couldn’t match the scintillating round he put together on his home course in his second round of the Philadelphia Section PGA Championship at Llanerch Country Club Wednesday, but he is still tied for the lead heading into Thursday’s final round back at Llanerch.
   Moses had grabbed a three-shot lead with his 6-under 65 in his opening round at Concord, a course he obviously knows very well. He shot a 5-over 76 at Llanerch Wednesday to share the lead after two rounds with Rob Shuey of Colonial Golf Club and Applebrook Golf Club head pro Dave McNabb at 1-under 141.
   Shuey, who had opened with a 1-under 70 at Llanerch Tuesday, matched par at Concord Wednesday to get to 141. McNabb had matched par at Llanerch with a 71 Tuesday and really had it going for a while Wednesday at Concord, reaching 5-under for the tournament at one point, before giving some shots back in a 1-under 70.
   Among the four players lurking at even-par 142 is the ageless Stu Ingraham, the teaching pro at the M Golf Range in Newtown Square. Ingraham added a 70 Wednesday to his opening-round 72.
Merion Golf Club’s head of instruction, Mark Sheftic, is among three players tied for eighth at 1-over 143 as he added a second-round 74 to his opening-round 69. Radnor Valley Country Club head pro George Forster and Merion pro Robby Bruns are among four players tied for 11th at 2-over 144. Forster added a 73 Wednesday to an opening-round 71 while Bruns has carded a pair of 72s.
   The Aronimink Golf Club pro shop is well-represented among the seven players tied for 15th at 3-over 145. Assistant pro Carson Solien, with rounds of 73 and 72, and head of instruction John Bierkan, with rounds of 70 and 75, are both sitting at 145.
   The top 12 finishers following Thursday’s final round will earn a spot in the PGA Professional National Championship (I like to call it by its old-school name, the National Club Pro) and they won’t have far to go to tee it up in that event, which is being held June 21 to 24 of next year at Philadelphia Cricket Club.
   The top finishers in the National Club Pro earn spots in the field of the PGA Championship, the final major professional championship each year. McNabb has taken that route to the last two PGAs, Sheftic has done in three times in the last five years, and Ingraham has made the trip to the PGA six times in his outstanding career.

Berman off to fast collegiate start

   I figured I’d check in at some point this fall and see how two-time Daily Times Player of the Year Cole Berman was doing in his first season at Georgetown. Figured it might take The Haverford School graduate and three-time Golf Association of Philadelphia Junior Player of the Year a little time to get his feet wet at the next level.
   Or not. I’m a little late with this (the event ended Sept. 7), but Berman, who closed out his summer with a rousing victory in the Patterson Cup, a GAP major, opened his collegiate career the same way, by winning a tournament.
   Berman had rounds of 69 and 68 at the par-71 U.S. Naval Academy Golf Course to take top honors in the Navy Fall Classic at 5-under 137. Berman was matched at that figure by Delaware’s Erik Dulik and defeated Dulik in a playoff to take the title, the first Hoya golfer to win the Navy Fall Classic since John Berg in 1992.
   “Cole’s win was special,” coach Tommy Hunter said on the Georgetown website. “He handled the pressure like an upperclassman. His decision-making made the difference. We can’t wait to get to our next event.”
   Berman’s effort helped Georgetown finish third in the team chase with rounds of 290 and 288 for a 578 total. Seton Hall (284-285—569) edged Delaware (288-282—570) by a shot for the team title.
Villanova was also in the field at the Navy Fall Classic, the Wildcats finishing sixth with rounds of 296 and 290 for a 586 total. Villanova was by Lucas Trim, a sophomore from Tampa, Fla. who had rounds of 72 and 71 to finish ninth at 1-over 143.

Haverford School, Malvern Prep are at it again

   Malvern Prep ended Haverford School’s three-year reign atop the Inter-Ac League last fall and the two teams got right back at it as the league’s series of mini-tournaments opened Tuesday at Philadelphia Cricket Club.
   The Friars had six players break 40 and they needed almost every shot as their 231 total edged the Fords by three shots.
   Nick Miller led the way for Malvern Prep with a 37 followed by Brendan Bacskai at 38 and Mike Szipasky, Marty McGuckin, Willis Moyer and Nick Fizzano all with 39s.
   Haverford School senior Jay Losty matched Miller’s 37, the low round of the day for the field, in leading the way for the Fords. Ryan Bowman and Matt Grubb added 38s, Jack Henderson carded a 39, Max Siegfried was at 40 and Peter Garno had a 42 as the Fords put up a 234 total
   Episcopal Academy, led by Joe Chambers with a 39, shared third place with Penn Charter at 253. Also counting for the Churchmen were Trey Croney with a 40, Jon Nolan Perry at 41, Cole Testaiuti with a 43, Scott McConnell with a 44 and Andrew Vetterlein at 46.
   A couple of high school dual matches slipped under the radar last week, including a summit meeting of Delco’s two top teams, Haverford School and Radnor.
   Haverford School’s Siegfried, a junior, matched par with a 35 at Gulph Mills Golf Club as the Fords claimed a 188-197 victory over the Raiders. Grubb added a 36, Bowman had a 38, Garno had a 39 and Otis Baker had a 40 as the Fords survived a little bit of an off day by Losty, who had a 41.
   Junior All-Delco Brynn Walker and Jack Owens led the way for Radnor with 37s. Paul Yun had a 40, Kevin Seits had a 41, and Michael Sydnes had a 42 for the Raiders.
   Radnor had another intriguing nonleague encounter last week with Downingtown East at Stonewall. Not sure which course they played at the wonderful golf hideaway in northwest Chester County, but Walker, coming off a spectacular summer that saw her qualify for the both the U.S. Girls Junior and the U.S. Women’s Amateur, fired a sizzling 2-under 33 to lead the Raiders to a 186-199 victory.
   Sydnes also broke par at Stonewall with a 34, Owens had a 38, Yun a 40 and Radnor could take its pick for its fifth scorer as Tom Hamilton, Jacob Liberman and Jack Staples all had 41s.