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Thursday, March 30, 2017

Susanin, Fahey having senior moments at Dartmouth

   Jamie Susanin practically willed Radnor to the PIAA Class AAA team title in the fall of 2012.
Susanin was a senior and the Raiders had added a talented freshman in Brynn Walker to a lineup that had been the runnerup at the state tournament a year earlier. While Walker, now a talented freshman at North Carolina, certainly helped, Susanin was the unquestioned leader of that team and second place just wouldn’t do.
   So it was good to see Susanin still playing some pretty good golf this week as the Dartmouth senior finished in a tie for third at The Babs Steffens Invitational at Victoria Hills Golf Club in DeLand, Fla. in the Big Green’s first tournament of the spring portion of their campaign.
   The Dartmouth men also have a couple of locals on their roster, former Episcopal Academy standout Sean Fahey and Scott Jaster, one of the leaders on some dominant Haverford School teams. The Big Green men were also in action last weekend and I’ll update their progress later in this post.
   Susanin only played in one event for Dartmouth as a junior. I’m sure there was an infusion of young talent for the Big Green and these kids at Ivy League schools actually prioritize the classroom, sometimes to the detriment of their golf games.
   But I can guarantee you, Susanin was just as proud, if not more so, of Dartmouth’s fourth-place finish in the team standings at The Babs Steffens as she was of her tie for third in the individual chase.
   Susanin opened up with a 1-under 71 over the 5,907-yard, par-72 Victoria Hills layout and added rounds of 76 and 74 for a solid 5-over 221 total.
   The Big Green had rounds of 304, 297 and 299 to finish fourth in the 11-team field at 900, 20 shots back of team champion St. Leo. The Babs Steffens wrapped up Monday.
   The rest of the Big Green’s team counters all finished in the top 40. Jessica Kittelberger, a junior from Raleigh, N.C., finished in an tie for 13th at 226, an effort that included a 1-under 71 in the middle round.
   Catharine Roddy, a sophomore from Trabuco, Calif., finished tied for 21st at 229 after opening the tournament with an even-par 72. Maddie Nelson, a freshman from Scammamish, Wash., finished tied for 30th at 231 after a final-round 74. And Tara Simmons, a senior from Goldsboro, N.C. finished tied for 38th at 234, including a 1-over 73 in the middle round.
   Dartmouth made the most of its escape from the endless winter in Hanover, N.H. and brought four more players along to compete as individuals.
   Kristin Soh, a freshman from Los Angeles, matched par in the final round to finish tied for 32nd at 232. Isabelle Kane, a junior from Winnetaka, Ill., finished tied for 48th at 242, Hana Bradshaw, a sophomore from San Diego, finished 57th at 256 and Bethany Burns, a freshman from Signal Mountain, Tenn., finished 60th at 261.
   If Susanin’s senior year at Dartmouth is anything like her senior year at Radnor, I suspect it will be a considered a success by the end of April.
   St. Leo’s team crown was fueled by a 1-2 finish in the individual standings. Amanda Jakobsson, a junior from Sweden, won the individual title with a 4-under 212 total that featured a final-round 68 and Marie Coors, a senior from Germany, was another shot back in second at 3-under 213 after a final-round 70.
   The Dartmouth men, meanwhile, finished 13th in a 21-team field in the Furman Invitational, which wrapped up Sunday at the Furman University Golf Course in Greenville, S.C.
   Fahey, a senior, had a second straight strong showing for the Big Green with rounds of 72, 73 and 74 over the 7,004-yard, par-72 Furman University layout for a 3-over 219 total that left him in a tie for 88th.
   That even-par 72 opening round was part of a sparkling 3-under 285 team effort by Dartmouth that left the Big Green in fifth place in the team standings. Jeffrey Lang, a senior from Lexington, Mass., ended up being Dartmouth’s top individual, finishing tied for 34th at 1-over 217. But Dartmouth’s opening-round effort was so strong, Lang’s 1-over 73 was tossed.
   Dartmouth slid back with a 1-over 289 in the second round and a final-round 302 to finish up at 12-over 876.
   John Lazor, a sophomore from Westwood, Mass., opened up with a 3-under 69 and finished tied for 60th at 5-over 221. Will Bednarz,  a freshman from Larkspur, Calif., finished in a tie for 66th at 222, including a 1-under 71 in the middle round. Ian Kelsey, a junior from Deerfield, Ill., finished tied for 83rd at 225. Riley Griffin, a freshman from Providence, R.I., competed as an individual and finished tied for 92nd at 226.
   Jaster, a senior, did not make the trip to Furman, although he was in the lineup when the Big Green opened its spring campaign in late February at the Wexford Plantation Intercollegiate in Hilton Head, S.C.  He finished tied for 73rd at 237.
   Jaster always seems to save his best stuff for the Ivy League Tournament, most notably as a freshman when he finished eighth at Baltusrol Golf Club’s Lower Course.
   Fahey was the Big Green’s low man in the Wexford Plantation, finishing tied for 54th at 232 after a final round of even-par 72 as Dartmouth placed 17th at 936 in a strong 18-team field.
   Clemson, No. 16 in the latest Golfstat rankings, roared to its fourth straight team title at Furman, finishing at 29-under 835, including a sizzling 12-under 276 in the middle round. It gave the Tigers a 14-shot margin of victory over South Carolina-Aiken, the No. 16 team in NCAA Division II which finished at 15-under 849.
   Clemson was paced by individual champion Carson Young, a senior from Pendleton, S.C. who fired a final round of 5-under 67 to finish at 11-under 205. Chattanooga’s Wes Gosselin, a redshirt senior from Knoxville, Tenn., and Andrew Novak,  a senior from Mount Pleasant, S.C., shared second place at 10-under 206. Gosselin had a final-round 68 while Novak started off with rounds of 67 and 66 before cooling off with a final-round 73.
   Brian Quinn took his Temple team to Greenville, S.C. and the Owls finished 19th at 894, but might have turned a corner with a solid final round of even-par 288.
   Trey Wren, a sophomore from Suffolk, Va., was the Owls’ top individual, finishing tied for 27th at even-par 216, including a final round of 3-under 69.
   And that wasn’t even Temple’s low round on the final day. John Barone, a redshirt sophomore from Dunmore, fired a 4-under 68 to move into a tie for 79th at 8-over 224. He had rounds of 77 and 79 before the dramatic final-round turnaround.
   Redshirt freshman Erik Reisner, a two-time Central League champion at Harriton, had a final round of 2-over 74 to finish tied for 92nd at 226. Junior Mark Farley, a Calvary Christian product, and freshman Marty McGuckin, a Malvern Prep product and the Golf Association of Philadelphia’s Junior Player of the Year last summer, each posted a 5-over 77 in the final round. Farley finished tied for 105th at 229 and McGuckin finished tied for 119th at 236.
   Sophomore Sam Soeth, a former Marple Newtown standout, played as an individual and started off with a 2-over 74 before falling back with an 80. He did not turn in a card for the final round.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Li will get to strut her stuff on a major stage at ANA Inspiration

   If you listened closely enough, you could hear a little grumbling from some of the membership at Rolling Green Golf Club during qualifying for match play in last summer’s U.S. Women’s Amateur.
   There was a little talk that maybe the William Flynn gem had been set up too easy for the best female amateur players in the world. After all, they argued, a 13-year-old kid was going to be the medalist after following up an opening round of 4-under 67 with a 3-under 68. A 13-year-old kid, 7-under for two rounds on our golf course.
   Well, that 13-year-old kid, Lucy Li, the golf prodigy from Redwood Shores, Calif., didn’t win the qualifying medal. A late afternoon round of 7-under 65, most of which I got to witness, by Mariel Galdiano of Pearl City, Hawaii enabled her to surge past Li and take medalist honors with a 36-hole total of 9-under 133.
   But if you went out and watched Li play, even for just a couple of holes, you realized that this wasn’t just any kid. I know it’s always a cautionary tale when you’re talking about the latest teen queen golfer, but a couple of things struck me about her.
   You could see how well she thinks her way around the golf course and that’s an absolute requirement at Rolling Green. Every shot she hit was an attempt to leave her with the best possible chance to hit a good shot on the next shot. Some very good golfers never figure that out.
   The other thing about Li was her – and there are very few 13-year-olds you can say this about -- showmanship. She was enjoying people watching her play golf and it showed. Even some pros get thrown off when a large gallery starts to notice what they’re doing. Li relished every second of it.
   Li’s 14 now and if you tune in for the opening round of 2017’s first major championship, the LPGA’s ANA Inspiration, Thursday, you might see her playing with the pros at Mission Hills Country Club’s Dinah Shore Tournament Course.
   Li earned the last spot in the tournament by winning last weekend’s ANA Junior Inspiration at the Dinah Shore Tournament and Pete Dye Courses. She sandwiched a couple of even-par 72s around a 3-under 69 to win the coveted spot in an LPGA major with a 3-under 213 total. I couldn’t tell from the results which rounds were on which courses, but at least one of them was on the course that the ANA Inspiration will be played on.
   Li won her first-round match at Rolling Green, beating August Kim, 4 and 3. That’s the same August Kim who is the focus of my previous post today, winning a share of a college tournament title with Purdue. Kim’s a senior with the Boilers. She won the Big Ten title last year. She’s battle-tested.
   Hannah Green, the Australian who reached the semifinals at Rolling Green and has since turned pro, knocked Li out in the second round with a 6 and 4 victory.
   Li finished four shots clear of the field last weekend at Mission Hills. One of the three players tied for second, Paphangkorn Tavatanakit of Thailand, will also be in the field for the ANA Inspiration. She was one of the six amateur standouts extended invitations to the ANA Inspiration by tournament officials.
   Tavatanakit is the reigning American Junior Golf Association Rolex Junior Player of the Year. She didn’t have to tee it up in the ANA Junior Inspiration, but the AJGA was involved in the event and Tavatanakit probably wanted to be involved. And it gave her an extra round or two on the Dinah Shore Tournament Course. Smart girl.
   Tavatanakit might be the best female junior player in the world, but even she has trouble keeping up with Li. So it will be interesting to see how Tavatanakit and Li do on a major stage.
   It might not be the last time those two meet in an LPGA major championship.

Kim shares individual title, but Purdue settles for second

   August Kim, the reigning Big Ten champion, continued her rock solid play of late, but her Purdue teammates struggled in the final round as the Boilermakers saw Kent State sneak past them for a one-shot victory in the Henssler Financial Intercollegiate, which concluded Tuesday at Pinetree Country Club in Kennesaw, Ga.
   Kim, a senior from St. Augustine, Fla., was the model of consistency in banging out three straight 1-under-par rounds of 71 over the 6,032-yard, par-72 Pinetree layout, two in Monday’s double round and one more Tuesday. Kim’s 3-under 213 total earned her a share of the individual title with Kent State’s  Pimnipa Panthong, a freshman from Thailand.
   Panthong opened the tournament with a bang, carding a 5-under 67 before a pair of 1-over 73s left her with a 213 total. Kim’s three straight sub-par rounds gave her six straight rounds of par or better.
Purdue, No. 23 in the latest Golfstat rankings, had a three-shot lead heading into the final round after opening up with a 1-over 289 and adding a solid 2-under 286 in the middle round. No. 14 Kent State was six shots behind the Boilers after opening with a 3-under 285 and posting a 296 in the middle round.
   But Purdue, coming off a team win in the 3M Augusta Invitational a week earlier, also in Georgia, couldn’t sustain its momentum. The Boilermakers slipped to a final-round 302 to finish at 13-over 877 while the Golden Flashes posted a 7-over 295 that gave them a 12-over 876 total and a one-shot edge on Purdue.
   No. 36 Texas Tech was another shot behind Purdue in third at 14-over 878 after matching par with a 288 in the final round. No. 27 Illinois took fourth at 21-over 885 after a final-round 206. No. 44 Augusta was fifth at 23-over 887 after a final-round 293.
   No. 70 Memphis trailed Purdue by just three shots after firing a 5-under 283 in the second round, but fell back with a final-round 313 to share sixth place with No. 59 Maryland. The Terrapins had the best team round of the tournament, a 7-under 281, in the middle round before struggling home with a 309 in the final round.
   Kent State got another top-10 finish from Wad Phaewchimpiee, a senior from Thailand who has been a standout for the Golden Flashes for four years. Phaewchimpiee had a final-round 76 to finish in a tie for eighth at 2-over 218.
   Michaela Finn, a sophomore from Sweden, had a huge even-par 72 in the final round that was probably the difference for Kent State. It enabled her to finish in a tie for 23rd at 223. She was joined at that figure by Karoline Stormo, a freshman from Norway whose final-round 74 was also a key return for the Golden Flashes.
   Rounding out the Kent State effort was freshman Marissa Kirkwood, a product of Neshannock High from Newcastle, Pa. who finished 79th at 240 after a final-round 84.
   Also for Purdue, Covadonga SanJuan, a sophomore from Spain, finished in a tie for 12th at 4-over 220. But SanJuan followed up an outstanding 3-under 69 in the second round with a final-round 79 that the Boilermakers tossed.
   Three other Boilermakers all carded a 77 in the final round. Micaela Farah, a freshman from Peru, finished in a tie for 14th at 221, Marta Martin, a junior from Spain, finished in a tie for 41st at 227 and Linn Andersson, a junior from Sweden, finished tied for 44th at 228.
   The individual champion from the 3M Augusta Invitational was also in the field at the Henssler Financial and Augusta’s Jessica Haigwood, a senior from Roswell, Ga., put together another strong showing in finishing a shot behind Kim and Panthong in third at 2-under 214. After matching par in both trips around Pinetree Monday, Haigwood posted a 2-under 70 in Tuesday’s final round.
   Troy’s Fatima Fernandez Cano, a senior from Spain,  and Texas Tech’s Sofia Garcia, a freshman from Paraguay, finished in a tie for fourth at 1-under 215. Cano moved into contention with a 4-under 68 in the second round before finishing up with a 1-over 73 while Garcia opened up with a 68 and carded a 2-under 70 in the final round around a 77 in Monday afternoon’s second round.