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Thursday, March 31, 2016

MacMillan second, Villanova tied for fourth at Wildcat Invitational

   Villanova’s Andrew MacMillan, a sophomore from Scottsdale, Ariz., got an opportunity to compete as an individual as James Wilkes’ club played host to the Wildcat Invitational this week at White Manor Country Club.
   And MacMillan made the most of his chance, carding rounds of 70 and 75 over the 7,055-yard, par-71 White Manor layout to finish second in the individual standings at 3-over 145. He finished two shots back of the individual champion, Binghamton’s Kyle Wambold, a junior who starred at Emmaus High. Wambold followed up his opening round of 2-under 69 – the only sub-70 round of the two-day event – with a 74 in cold and windy conditions Tuesday for a 1-over 143 total.
   Of course, the bad news about MacMillan competing as an individual is that his scores didn’t count for Villanova’s team effort. But the Wildcats still pulled out a solid tie for fourth in the 21-team field.
   Cleveland State’s second-round 291 was easily the best total in the difficult conditions and, combined with an opening-round 302, gave the Vikings a 25-over 593 total. Lehigh (303-296) was six shots back in second at  599 and Wagner (289-311) grabbed third at 600.
   Villanova added a second-round 302 to its opening-round 299 to get a share of fourth at 601. The Wildcats were joined at that figure by Binghamton (299-302) and La Salle (298-303). Delaware (298-304) was another shot back, alone in seventh place at 602.
   MacMillan’s performance is evidence of the kind of depth Villanova possesses this spring.
   Lucas Trim (74-76), a junior from Tampa, Fla., and Andy Butler (75-75), a sophomore from Oakmont, were in the group tied for 19th at 150 for the Wildcats. Rounding out the group counting toward  Villanova’s team score, Luke Waggoner (78-73), a sophomore from Crystal Lake, Ill., finished tied for 25th at 151, Will Byrne (72-81), a sophomore from McLean, Va., finished tied for 52nd at 153 and Zach Egermayer (78-78), a sophomore from Glen Rock, N.Y., finished tied for 72nd at 156.
   Villanova’s Peter Richards, a freshman from Westport, Conn., also competed as an individual and had a solid showing with a pair 77s that left him tied for 58th at 154.
   In the individual chase, MacMillan’s 145 total enabled him to finish just ahead of the seven-man logjam that shared third place at 4-over 146.
   That group included: Colgate’s Chris Wilson (74-72), a junior from Toronto, and Ryan Allison (72-74), a junior from Melbourne, Fla.; St. John’s Seung Yub Baek (73-73), a freshman from Arcadia, Calif.; Cleveland State’s Blake Prince (72-74), a sophomore from East Liverpool, Ohio; La Salle’s P.J. Acierno (71-75), a junior who was a Catholic League standout at La Salle High; Wagner’s Anton Frandelius (73-73), a junior from Sweden; and Delaware’s Jack Gianniny (70-76), a sophomore from Pittsford, N.Y.

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Look out for the amateurs as ANA Inspiration tees off

   The first major professional championship in 2016 tees off Thursday as the LPGA’s ANA Inspiration gets under way at the Dinah Shore Tournament Course at Mission Hills Country Club in Mission Hills, Calif.
   In recent years, the ANA has completed its field by inviting top amateur players as well as the winner of a Monday qualifier, the ANA Junior Inspiration.
   With the countdown at 122 days until the 2016 U.S. Women’s Amateur tees off at Rolling Green Golf Club, that group of amateur players is of particular interest this year. It is possible that one or more of the amateurs who play in the ANA (it will always be the Dinah Shore to me) will turn professional between now and the first day of qualifying for match play Aug. 1 at Rolling Green, but many of them will likely be headed for Delaware County this summer.
   Leading the contingent is the No.-1 ranked amateur player in the world, Duke sophomore Leona Maguire of Ireland. The college players in the field have been playing nearly as much golf lately as the LPGA pros, so don’t expect any rust from Maguire.
   Such is the level of competition on the college scene these days that Maguire has struggled at times this spring. But don’t expect Maguire to be intimidated by the big stage she’s playing on this week.
   Also in the field will be the two finalists in last year’s U.S. Women’s Amateur at the Portland Golf Club in Portland, Ore., champion Hannah O’Sullivan of Chandler, Ariz. and runnerup Sierra Brooks of Sorrento, Fla. O’Sullivan is No. 2 in the world amateur rankings and Brooks is No. 5.
   Both are high school seniors and both will represent the United States against Great Britain & Ireland in the Curtis Cup Match in June in Ireland. And both are very likely to be in the field at Rolling Green. O’Sullivan will attend USC next fall while Brooks is headed for Wake Forest.
   O’Sullivan already owns a victory in a professional event, having topped the field in the Symetra Tour’s Gateway Classic as a 16-year-old in 2015.
   A third member of the U.S. Curtis Cup team, Andrea Lee of Hermosa Beach, Calif., earned her way into the ANA Inspiration field by firing a 5-under 67 at the Palmer Course at Mission Hills to top the field in the ANA Junior Inspiration. Lee is headed to Stanford next fall.
   And she isn’t the only member of a powerful freshman class headed for Stanford next fall in the field. Lee’s future teammate, Albane Valenzuela, an 18-year-old from Switzerland, is No. 12 in the world amateur rankings and she, too, will join the Stanford program next fall.
   Rounding out the amateur contingent in the ANA Inspiration field are a couple of current collegiate standouts, Karen Chung of Livingston, N.J. and Bronte Law of England.
   Chung is a junior on the powerhouse USC team that is the No. 1 team in college golf. Law is a junior at cross-town rival UCLA.
   USC, UCLA and Duke each will be missing one of its top players in Chung, Law and Maguire, respectively, for this weekend’s Liz Murphey Collegiate Classic at the University of Georgia Golf Course, but their inclusion in the field for the first LPGA major of the year is a tribute to their respective programs.

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Walker finishes tied for 15th in AJGA stop at Innisbrook

   Brynn Walker, Radnor’s two-time PIAA Class AAA champion, wanted to make a couple of forays to warmer climes to get some top-notch competition to keep her game sharp as she and pal Madelein Herr, the District One champion from Council Rock North, prepare for another run at the U.S. Women’s Amateur Four-Ball Championship in May.
   Walker, a senior who is headed for North Carolina in the fall, was part of a contingent of Main Line junior golfers who teed it up in American Junior Golf Association events in Florida over the Easter weekend.
   Walker added a final-round 80 Sunday to rounds of 77 and 73 to finish tied for 15th at 230 in the TaylorMade-adidas Golf Junior at Innisbrook hosted by Justin Rose in Palm Harbor, Fla. The 1-over middle round over the 6,079-yard, par-71 Copperhead Course was clutch because it got Walker safely inside the cut and assured her a tee time for the Easter Sunday windup.
   The run by Walker and Herr to the semifinals of the inaugural U.S. Women’s Four-Ball last spring at the Bandon Dunes Resort in Oregon automatically qualified them for this year’s event, which will be played May 21 to 25 at the Tom Doak-designed Blue Course at the Streamsong Resort in Florida. Walker, who plays out of St. Davids Golf Club, and Herr, a Penn State recruit, will be likely be busy with college golf when the 2017 U.S. Women’s Four-Ball comes around.
   The winner of the girls division at Innisbrook was Grace Ni of Cypress, Texas who had rounds of 73, 67 and 77 for a 4-over 217 total that cleared the field by two shots.
   Also making the trip to Florida’s West Coast was Agnes Irwin sophomore Kaitlyn Lees, who plays out of Philadelphia Country Club. Lees is gearing up for the spring Inter-Ac League girls season. She has been a top-three finisher at the Inter-Ac Tournament in each of the last three springs.
   Lees had rounds of 76 and 82 for a 158 total that missed the cut by six shots.
   Peter Bradbeer, a senior at Friends’ Central and a Bucknell recruit, had rounds of 75 and 81 for a 156 total that missed the cut by two shots. Bradbeer plays out of Merion Golf Club.
   The winner of the boys division was Brandon Mancheno of Jacksonville, Fla., who had rounds of 74, 67 and 75 for a 3-over 216 total over the same Copperhead Course that challenged the PGA Tour pros in the Valspar Championship two weeks ago. Mancheno finished two shots ahead of the pack.
   Over on Florida’s East Coast, the AJGA staged the Core Golf Academy Junior All-Star contested at the PGA National Resorts Spa’s Fazio Course in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla.
   John Updike, who had a spectacular freshman season in leading Malvern Prep to the Inter-Ac title last fall, had rounds of 80 and 77 over the 6,765-yard, par-72 Fazio course for a 157 total that missed the cut by five shots. Updike plays out of Aronimink Golf Club.
   The boys winner at PGA National was Bryan Teoh Wiyang of Jupiter, Fla. via Malaysia. Wiyang had rounds of 71, 68 and 72 for a 5-under 211 total that gave him a five-shot margin of victory.
   The girls winner at PGA National was 12-year-old Yin (Cindy) Kou of Windermere, Fla. via China. Kou had steady rounds of 74, 72 and 72 for a 2-over 218 total that gave her a three-shot margin of victory.