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Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Sydnes a winner in Helen Sigel Wilson Junior Invitational

   The scholastic season might be well under way, but last weekend was a busy one for junior golfers.

   Radnor junior Michael Sydnes, who has had a strong fall on the scholastic scene, fired a 2-over 73 at Philadelphia Country Club Saturday to capture the boys 15-to-18 age group at the Helen Sigel Wilson Junior Invitational.
   The event is named for Helen Sigel Wilson, a Philadelphia Country Club member who was one of the most accomplished amateur golfers in the history of the game in this country. Wilson was the Women’s Golf Association of Philadelphia Amateur champion 14 times in a time frame that stretched from 1941 to 1972.
   Sydnes, who plays out of Talamore Country Club, finished two shots ahead of Brian Isztwan of Huntingdon Valley Country Club and William Mitchell of Laurel Creek Country Club, both of whom came in at 4-over 75. Isztwan, a sophomore at Penn Charter, is the reigning Inter-Ac League champion.
   Applecross Country Club’s Michael Zeng, a freshman at Episcopal Academy, finished 10th with an 81, Overbrook Country Club’s D.J. Colleran, a freshman at Radnor, finished in a tie for 11th with an 82, McCall Field Golf & Country Club’s Joey DelFranco, a senior at Marple Newtown, was 19th with an 88 and Overbrook’s Michael O’Neil finished 20th with a 95.
   Patrick Sheehan of Talamore and Nikita Romanov of DuPont Country Club shared the top spot in the 12-to-14 division with 4-over 75s.
   Applecross’ Jacob Zeng, an eighth-grader at Episcopal, finished seventh with an 86. Overbrook’s Jack Burton and Huntingdon Valley’s Patrick Isztwan finished in a tie for eighth with 87s. And Rock Manor Golf Club’s Corey Kan finished 13th with a 97.
   Agnes Irwin sophomore Kaitlyn Lees upheld the Helen Sigel Wilson tradition, representing the host course by shooting an 82 and sharing the top spot in the girls 15-to-18 division with Esther Park of Porky Oliver Golf Club.
   Rock Manor’s Caprian Kan, a junior at Chichester, finished third with an 86 and Overbrook’s Olivia Traynor, a sophomore at Notre Dame and the reigning Inter-Ac League champion, finished fourth with a 90.
   Morgan Sohosky of Berwick Country Club was the 12-to-14 division winner with a 96.
   Meanwhile, Cardinal O’Hara senior Alec Kerr, who has had a spectacular fall of high school golf, ventured to Lopatong, N.J. over the weekend and finished second in the The Architects Cup, an International Junior Golf Tour event at The Architects Golf Club.
   After opening with a 3-over 74 over the 6,863-yard, par-71 Architects layout, Kerr fired a 3-under 68 in the second round for an even-par 142 total that left him three shots back of Chris Gotterup of Little Silver N.J. Gotterup opened with an even-par 71 and matched Kerr’s second-round 68 for a 3-under 139 total.
   Merion Golf Club’s Peter Bradbeer, a senior at Friends’ Central, had rounds of 79 and 71 to finish in a tie for seventh at 150.
   The Philadelphia Section PGA Junior Tour had a stop Saturday at Spring Hollow Golf Club in Chester County and two of Delco’s talented freshmen, AJ Aivazoglou of Glen Mills and The Haverford School, and Radnor’s Blake Stephano had strong showings in the 13-to-15 division.
   Aivazoglou captured division honors in a match of cards as he and Hayden Moffat of Hatboro both carded 8-over 78 over the 5,699-yard, par-70 Spring Hollow layout. A birdie at the 16th hole proved to be the difference for Aivazoglou.
   Stephano carded a 79 to finish in a tie for third with, among others, Conestoga sophomore Michael Hamilton. The two would battle for Central League supremacy two days later in a dual match at St. Davids. By the way, I know St. Davids is Brynn Walker’s home course, but the 5-under 30 the reigning Daily Times Player of the Year shot to lead Radnor to the victory against its archrival was pretty amazing.
   Also in the 13-to-15 division at Spring Hollow, Samuel Walker of Radnor finished in  a tie for seventh with an 82, Jack Cooley of Chadds Ford finished ninth with an 87 and Jackson Fields of Glen Mills finished 13th with a 102.
   Benjamin Pochet, a talented sophomore at Spring-Ford, won the 16-to-18 division with a sparkling 1-over 71.
   Episcopal Academy graduate Joe Chambers finished in a tie for third with a 77 and Mark Farrell of Newtown Square placed 14th with an 88.
   On the girls side, Lily Byrne of Downingtown won the 13-to-15 division with a 97 and Sofia Amoroso of West Chester captured the 16-to-18 division with an 82.
   Among the nine-holers, Joshua Ryan of Norristown blitzed the Spring Hollow layout with a spectacular 3-under 32 to take division honors.
   Luke Kelly of Wayne finished in a tie for third with a 41, Chase Stephano of Radnor was 10th with a 46, Charlie Bastien of Media finished in a tie for 12th with a 50 and Ryan Garvey of Media was 16th with a 52.

Lutz reaches U.S. Senior Amateur final

   Switching up from the kids to the old guys I’ve been following all week at the U.S. Senior Amateur at Hidden Creek Golf Club in Egg Harbor Township, N.J., kudos to Reading’s Chip Lutz, the reigning five-time (soon to be six-time) Golf Association of Philadelphia Senior Player of the Year who dodged the raindrops to win two matches Wednesday and reach Thursday’s final.
   Lutz reached the semifinals in the morning with a 4 and 2 victory over qualifying medalist Randal Lewis of Alma, Mich., the 2011 U.S. Mid-Amateur champion. It sent Lutz to the Senior Amateur semifinals for a fourth time. In his three previous trips he fell short of the final.
   Not this time.
   Facing a formidable opponent in Tim Jackson, a two-time U.S. Mid-Amateur champion and two-time U.S. Walker Cup team member from Germantown, Tenn., Lutz, 60, won the first two holes and never looked back to claim a 1-up victory.
   The back-to-back winner in 2011 and 2012 of the Canadian Senior Amateur and British Senior Amateur titles, Lutz will try to finally add the Senior Amateur title of his country to his resume. Lutz will take on Tom Brandes of Bellevue, Wash., who needed 21 holes to oust Steve Liebler of Irmo, S.C. in his semifinal match.
   The scheduled 18-hole final tees off at 7:15 a.m. Thursday morning.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Thompson falls in 19 holes at U.S. Senior Amateur

   It took 19 holes in the second round of match play, but Ray Thompson’s bid in the U.S. Senior Amateur at Hidden Creek Golf Club was finally halted by Bill Leonard of Dallas, Ga. Tuesday morning.
   It was a see-saw match all day and Leonard pulled ahead with a par at the 15th hole. But Thompson, a 63-year-old Overbrook Golf Club member, had to have a good vibe heading to the par-5 17th hole at the 6,480-yard, par-71 Hidden  Creek layout in Egg Harbor Township, N.J.
   Thompson, a Drexel Hill resident and Marple Newtown graduate, had eagled the hole Sunday in a final surge that secured him a spot in match play and birdied it Monday to get a nose in front in what had been an all-square match with Ben Brundred of Potomac, Md. Thompson won the 18th to claim a 2-up win in that match.
   Thompson got a key birdie again at 17 Tuesday to draw even with Leonard before they halved the 18th hole with pars and headed back to the first tee. Leonard made birdie on the first hole to end the match, Thompson’s birdie putt coming up a half-a-roll short of sending it to a 20th hole.
   Chip Lutz, the reigning five-time Senior Player of the Year, will carry the Golf Association of Philadelphia banner into the quarterfinals, however.
   Lutz of LedgeRock Golf Club dropped a birdie putt on the 18th hole to put away a stubborn Curtis Skinner of Lake Bluff, Ill., 2-up in a Tuesday afternoon round-of-16 match.
   Lutz, who probably secured a sixth straight GAP Senior Player of the Year award with his showing at Hidden Creek, will face Randal Lewis, the qualifying medalist from Alma, Mich. in a match scheduled to tee off at 7:30 Wednesday morning. Lewis downed Leonard, 1-up, in his round-of-16 match.
   So if Thompson had been able to get past Leonard, he would have just needed to beat Lewis for another quarterfinal showdown with Lutz, who beat Thompson in the quarterfinals of the 2013 U.S. Senior Amateur championship at Wade Hampton Country Club in Cashiers, N.C.
   Lutz, a two-time winner of the British Senior Amateur championship, has made the semifinals at the U.S. Senior Amateur three times, but never won.
   Two other GAP representatives went out in the second round along with Thompson. Thomas Hyland of Little Mill Country Club suffered a 7 and 6 setback at the hands of Don DuBois of Newport Beach, Calif. and Brian Rothaus of Five Ponds Golf Club was edged, 1-up, by Kevin Cahill of Waukesha, Wis.
   In what had to be one of the  marquee matches of Monday’s opening round, Jim Holtgrieve of St. Louis (U.S. Walker Cup captain in 2011 and 2013) defeated Merion Golf Club’s Buddy Marucci (U.S. Walker Cup captain in 2007 and 2009, the latter a memorable U.S. win at Merion’s historic East Course), 4 and 3.
   Another first-round casualty was Glenn Smeraglio of Mercer Oaks Golf Club, who fell, 4 and 3, to Gary Robinson of Fayetteville, N.C.
   Marucci wasn’t the only Merion member to make match play in a U.S. Senior Amateur event this week.
   Liz Haines, who has been a good player forever (she owns Women’s Golf Association of Philadelphia Amateur titles from 1985 and 1994), reached match play in the Women’s Senior Amateur, being held at Hillwood Country Club in Nashville, Tenn.
   Haines, a Gladwyne resident, had rounds of 77 and 82 to finish in a tie for 35th in qualifying.
Facing Beatriz Arenas of Guatemala in the opening round Monday, Haines was 4-down after seven holes and fought back to get within 1-down after 13 before falling 3 and 2.

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Thompson and rest of GAP contingent shine at the shore

   For a fourth straight year Overbrook Golf Club’s Ray Thompson has a match in the opening round of the U.S. Senior Amateur Monday morning following a clutch 1-under-par 70 in the second round of qualifying at Hidden Creek Golf Club in Egg Harbor Township, N.J.
   And Thompson’s performance was just part of a really solid showing by the Golf Association of Philadelphia contingent at Hidden Creek this weekend. Sure, it’s a bit of a home game for the locals, but you still have to hit the quality golf shots to be one of the top 64 among the top senior players from all over the country.
   GAP’s Senior Player of the Year will likely be decided this week at the shore as three of the top contenders for the award, Thompson, Reading’s Chip Lutz and Glen Smeraglio of Newtown, Bucks County and Mercer Oaks Golf Club all qualified for match play. They earned points for making match play and can earn points for each match they win at Hidden Creek.
   Lutz, a two-time British Senior Amateur champion who plays out of LedgeRock Golf Club, has been one of the top senior amateur players in the world for some time. He is gunning for his sixth straight GAP Senior Player of the Year award. One of these days, they might have to name the thing after him.
   Lutz added a 2-over 73 Sunday to his opening-round 71 for a 2-over 144 total that left him tied for eighth. He’ll open match play with an all-GAP affair as he’ll face Lancaster Country Club’s Kenneth Phillips, who posted a clutch 1-over 72 to get into  match play at 8-over 150, at 8:40 a.m.
   The 12 players who finished at 9-over 151 will play off for the final spot in match play just before the matches commence Monday morning.
   Lutz was joined at 2-over 144 by Merion Golf Club’s Buddy Marucci, the 2008 U.S. Senior Amateur champion who added an even-par 71 Sunday to his opening-round 73.
   That sets up something of a Walker Cup all-star opening-round match between Marucci, who captained the U.S. team to victory in 2007 and 2009, and Jim Holtgrieve, who succeeded Marucci as the Walker Cup captain in 2011 and 2013. Holtgrieve, a three-time winner as a Walker Cup player, rallied for an even-par 71 after opening up with a 79 to earn his date with Marucci. They’ll tee off at 9 a.m.
   Brian Rothaus of Five Ponds Golf Club added a 74 Sunday to his opening-round 71 to finish in a tie for 12th at 3-over 145. Rothaus draws Gary Carpendale of Las Vegas, Nev. In the opening round at 12:30 p.m.
   Just before Lutz and Phillips tee off, Thompson starts at 8:30 a.m. against Ben Brundred of Potomac, Md.
   Thompson struggled a little during his opening-round 76 Saturday, but the 63-year-old Drexel Hill resident was solid as a rock Sunday. He made birdie at the third and a bogey at the sixth to make the turn at the 6,864-yard, par-71 Hidden Creek layout at even-par 36.
   He faltered a little on the back with bogeys at 11 and 16. Perhaps sensing that he was flirting with the cut line at 7-over, Thompson took care of business with an eagle at the par-5 17th and a birdie at the par-4 finishing hole to complete his 1-under round and end up 4-over and tied for 17th overall in qualifying.
   With Thompson, a Marple Newtown grad, and Marucci, a Haverford High product, in match play, to paraphrase Conestoga golf coach Kevin Pechin, Central League is in the house.
   Little Mill Country Club’s Thomas Hyland also made match play, adding a 2-over 73 to his opening-round 74 to finish in a tie for 24th at 5-over 147. He’s off right before Rothaus at 12:20 p.m. against Mills Brown of Scottsdale, Ariz.
   And rounding out the GAP contingent is Smeraglio, who was in trouble after an opening-round 79 Saturday. But he battled back with an even-par 71 to finish in a tie for 54th at 8-over 150. Smeraglio was sitting at 10-over and needed to make something happen when, like Thompson, he made eagle at the par-5 17th to get to 8-over.
   Smeraglio draws Gary Robinson of Fayetteville, N.C. in the opening round. Robinson fired a 1-under 70 Sunday to finish in a tie for fifth at 1-over 143. They tee off at 10 a.m.
   Medalist honors went to Randal Lewis of Alama, Mich., who had had a 3-under 68 Sunday to finish at 4-under 138. Lewis became the oldest U.S. Mid-Amateur champion in 2011 when he won that title at age 54.
   It was also a strong effort by GAP’s reigning two-time Super-Senior Player of the Year – and I’m pretty sure he’s in good shape to make it three straight – Don Donatoni of White Manor Country Club. Donatoni posted a solid 2-over 74 Sunday to finish at 10-over 152, just a shot out of that 12-man playoff for the final spot in match play.

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Thompson has a shot at match play at U.S. Senior Amateur

   Overbrook Golf Club’s Ray Thompson, who has reached match play in the last three U.S. Senior Amateurs, carded a 5-over-par 76 on a gusty Saturday down the shore at Hidden Creek Golf Club in Egg Harbor Township, N.J. in the opening round of qualifying of the 2015 edition of the U.S. Senior Amateur.
   That puts the Drexel Hill resident right on the edge in the battle for the 64 spots in match play heading into Sunday’s second round of qualifying. He is one of 17 players tied for 59th at that figure and weather-wise it looks like more of the same Sunday with a coastal low hanging off the South Jersey coast.
   Reading’s Chip Lutz, who can pretty much nail down a sixth straight Golf Association of Philadelphia Senior Player of the Year award with a strong showing at Hidden Creek, is in the hunt for the qualifying medal after matching par with a 71 and is tied for fifth. Tim Jackson, a two-time U.S. Mid-Amateur champion, carded a 3-under 68 over the 6,864-yard, par-71 Hidden Creek layout to take a two-shot lead over three players.
   Lutz, a two-time British Senior Amateur champion, was joined at even-par by another GAP player, Five Ponds Golf Club’s Brian Rothaus.
   Buddy Marucci, who won this title in 2008 in between captaining the U.S. team to Walker Cup victories in 2007 and 2009, is also in good shape for making match play after posting a 2-over 73.    That puts Marucci, a Haverford High product, in a tie for 17th. Marucci is also a member at Merion Golf Club and Merion’s historic East Course is where the 2009 U.S. Walker Cup victory he captained was achieved.
   Thomas Hyland of Little Mill Country Club is another shot back of Marucci at 3-over 74 in a tie for 28th. White Manor Country Club’s Don Donatoni, GAP’s reigning two-time Super-Senior Player of the Year, carded a 77, Lancaster Country Club’s Kenneth Phillips posted a 78, and Mercer Oaks Golf Club’s Glenn Smeraglio, who came into this event as a contender for GAP Senior Player of the Year, had a 79.
   Pretty sure Thompson, a Marple Newtown product, started his round on the back nine at Hidden Creek Saturday and it was an adventurous first nine holes that included five bogeys and a birdie at the par-3 11th.
   Thompson, 63 years young, settled down on the front nine with two bogeys and a key birdie at the par-5 ninth that enabled him to finish at 5-over. Thompson may need to go a little lower in Sunday’s second round to keep his streak of making match play at the U.S. Senior Amateur alive.

Friday, September 25, 2015

Malvern Prep gets the jump on Haverford School in Inter-Ac race

   Haverford School and Malvern Prep picked up right where they left off last season when the Fords finally outlasted the Friars to claim the Inter-Ac League title.
   The Inter-Ac’s series of six mini-tournaments began Thursday with Penn Charter playing the host at the challenging Huntingdon Valley Country Club.
   Malvern Prep got the jump on the Fords as sophomore Matthew Davis, a member at Aronimink Golf Club, had the day’s best score, a 1-over 36 over the par-35 layout, to lead the Friars to the overall win for the day.
   Haverford School, led by senior All-Delco Max Siegfried’s 37, finished with a 239 total, just four shots back of Malvern’s 235. Episcopal Academy, with senior co-captain Scott McConnell leading the way with a 39, finished third at 243.
   Malvern also got 38s from Mike Miller and talented freshman John Updike. Marty McGuckin had a 39, Gavin Sims had a 41 and Matt Civitella added a 43 to round out the Friars’ six counting scores.
   Haverford School also counted 40s by Thomas Gravina, AJ Aivazalou and Jack McKnight and 41s by Peter Garno and David Hurly.
   Episcopal also counted 40s by eighth-grader Case Hummer and Cole Kemmerer, 41s by Jon Nolan Perry and Ashton Dunn and one of the 42s posted by Matt Marino and Michael Zeng.
   Penn Charter finished fourth at 249 and was led by reigning Inter-Ac individual champion Brian Isztwan, a sophomore who posted a 2-over 37 playing on his home course at Huntingdon Valley.