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Saturday, May 30, 2015

Rackley calms nerves to win Philly PGA's biggest payday

   It’s not unusual to see a PGA Tour pro cost himself tens of thousands of dollars with a missed putt on the final day of a tournament.
   But you’re not usually talking about that kind of dough at a Philadelphia Section PGA event, with the exception of last week’s Haverford Philadelphia PGA Classic at Sunnybrook Golf Club.
   The people at the Haverford Trust Co. are big sponsors of the Philly PGA circuit. But they specifically have put their name on this event and have traditionally made the winner’s share the largest single prize available in any PGA Section event in the country. And this year, the stakes went up. It was a cool $100 grand to the winner with second place being considerably less at $5,000. Haverford Trust Co. just wants a club professional to get a shot at an epic payday. Not sure how many lessons it would take for a club pro to make $100,000 in a year, but I’m guessing a lot.
   Billy Stewart, the former Malvern Prep standout who honed his game growing up at Llanerch Country Club, won the event a couple of years ago when the top prize was only $50 grand, but it was a huge boost for a guy who was coming back home to teach golf after banging around on the Florida mini-tours for the better part of a decade after a nice collegiate career at Saint Joseph’s.
   So there was Gulph Mills Golf Club assistant pro Josh Rackley standing over an eight-foot par putt on the second hole of a playoff with Jamie Komancheck, a pro at the RiverCrest Golf Club & Preserve and once an assistant at Aronimink Golf Club, last Tuesday at Sunnybrook. Just your basic $95,000 putt.
   And Rackley drained it.
   “I was extremely nervous,” Rackley told the Philadelphia Inquirer. “But somehow it went in.”
   Rackley and Komancheck both toured the tough Sunnybrook layout in 2-under 70 to set up the playoff.
   Merion Golf Club assistant pro Robby Bruns was one of four players who finished in a tie for third at 1-under 71.

Friday, May 29, 2015

McCabe nets another Warner Cup title at Radley Run

   Bill McCabe, a Springfield resident who plays out of McCall Golf & Country Club, was at his best Tuesday in winning the Golf Association of Philadelphia’s Warner Cup (net) title Tuesday at Radley Run Country Club outside of West Chester.
   McCabe won the fall Warner Cup (net) title in 2006 with a net 62 at Bucks Country Club and Tuesday at Radley Run, he matched effort to breeze to an eight-shot victory.
   Carrying a 14 handicap, the 68-year-old had two gross birdies, 11 pars, four bogeys and a double bogey for a 4-over 76 over the 6,115-yard, par-72 Radley Run layout for his net 62.
   “My game’s really starting to come around,” McCabe told the GAP website. “(Monday), I played well at our place and it gave  me real confidence to play well today.”
   McCabe’s natural birdies came at the 385-yard, par-4 fifth where he drilled a 5-hybrid to 18 feet and drained the putt and the 149-yard, par-3 13th where he hit a 6-iron to 10 feet and made that putt, getting some helpful reads from his playing partners.
   It was a long way back to runnerup Scott Dichter of Meadia Heights Golf Club, who carded a net 70.
   Among some of the other top finishers were Vito Caracappa (72, tied for sixth) of The Golf Course at Glen Mills, Charles Kane (74, tied for ninth) of Rolling Green Golf Club, Joseph Dayton (76, tied for 15th) of Glen Mills, Terrence Kyle (76, tied for 15th) of Concord Country Club, Victor Donnay (76, tied for 15th) of Edgmont Country Club, Joe DiPanni (77, tied for 20th) of The Springhaven Club, Rich Hartman (78, tied for 25th) of Springhaven, Timothy Joyce (78, tied for 25th) of Edgmont, John O’Rourke (79, tied for 31st) of McCall and William Brady (79, tied for 31st) of Springhaven.

Team Semenetz takes Father & Son (Middle)

   Gregg Sementz drove three-and-half hours from his New York home to tee it up with his son Sean in GAP’s Father & Son (Middle) championship Thursday at Talamore Country Club and the drive was worth it.
   Sean Semenetz, one of the many talented players that helped Philadelphia Cricket Club capture the GAP Team Matches this spring, and his dad carded a 1-under 70 on the 6,109-yard, par-71 Talamore layout in the select-drive, alternate-shot event for a one-shot victory over the Huntingdon Valley Country Club pair of Jack and John Quirk, who teamed up to claim a share of the Father-Son (Younger) title a year ago.
   The Semenetzes had three birdies against two bogeys.
   “It was fun,” 28-year-old Sean Semenetz said of playing a round with his 58-year-old dad. “He taught me the game. I don’t get many lessons, so it’s all come from him.”
   Heading the Delco contingent were the Aronimink Golf Club teams of Jeff Klagholz and Martin Klagholz and Charles Bernard and Dan Bernard, the former Malvern Prep and Bucknell standout. They were among seven pairs that finished tied for fourth at 3-over 74.
    Matt Dupre, who has been a major force in bringing the U.S. Women’s Amateur to Rolling Green next year, teamed up with son Alex, a former Episcopal Academy standout, to finish in a tie for 11th with a 75.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Schiavone receives Kim Moore Spirit Award from college coaches

   In my last post, I mentioned that Chichester’s Aurora Kan won the 2010 PIAA Championship in a playoff with West Chester East’s Gabriella DiMarco.
   There was actually a third player involved in the playoff that day at the Heritage Hills Golf Resort, although she was knocked out on the first hole of that playoff. I heard her name as I watched some of the coverage of the first round of matches at the NCAA Tournament Tuesday morning on The Golf Channel. Well, Lisa Cornwell butchered her name, but I knew who she meant went she said Stani Schiavone had won the Women’s Golf Coaches Association’s Kim Moore Spirit Award.
   The purpose of the award, named for former University of Indianapolis standout Kim Moore, is to recognize a student-athlete or coach who exemplifies a great spirit toward the game of golf, a positive attitude on and off the golf course, is a role model for her team and shows mental toughness in facing challenges.
   Schiavone is a Bangor native and was among Pennsylvania’s top high school players when Kan was clicking off top-five finishes for four straight years at Heritage Hills. DiMarco even said that day that it was fitting that the playoff for the state title came down to the three best players in the state.
   Schiavone had a strong freshman season at Baylor, but was staggered by the deaths of some of the most important people in her life. She transferred to the University of Mississippi and then started having back problems. She was diagnosed with a ruptured disc and had to undergo back surgery. She missed the fall part of one season, but was back on the course the following spring.
   Schiavone’s road back culminated when she flashed the kind of ability she has always possessed by firing a 65 in the final round of the Samford Invitational this spring.
   “It is such an honor to get this award,” Schiavone said on the Ole Miss website. “I wouldn’t have been able to accomplish  any of my golf or academic goals without my teammates, coaches and family. They have been my constant support system and have allowed me to flourish on the course and in the classroom and I appreciate their support throughout my collegiate career.”
   Schiavone, who majors in mathematics education, is a two-time WGCA All-American Scholar Athlete. She earned the University of Mississippi’s Taylor Medal this spring, the highest academic honor a student can receive at Ole Miss, awarded to less than one percent of students.
   I’m guessing Schiavone was rooting for those Baylor Bears as Lauren Whyte, a freshman from St. Andrew’s, Scotland outlasted Duke’s Lisa Maguire, a freshman from Ireland, in a wildly entertaining 24-hole marathon Tuesday that put Baylor in Wednesday’s championship match against Stanford.

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.