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Thursday, May 11, 2017

Covello again shares medalist honors at local U.S. Open qualifier

   Vince Covello, who grew up playing at Llanerch Country Club and is an Episcopal Academy product, has been beating the bushes playing mini-tours for years. At 34, he has full-time status on the Web.com Tour this year.
   But the Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla. resident comes home every year around this time to visit family and friends … and play in the local U.S. Open qualifier administered by the Golf Association of Philadelphia. It only seems like he wins the thing every year, but for the third time in four years, he earned a share of medalist honors at a raw and rainy Country Club of York Thursday.
   Covello advanced to sectional qualifying, “golf’s longest day,” for the sixth time with a 1-under-par 69 over the 6,664-yard, par-70 Donald Ross design at the Country Club of York. Three other players shared medalist honors with Covello, including Hugh Leon, a native of Santiago, Chile whom Covello befriended in Florida nearly a decade ago. The 32-year-old Leon, who plays on the PGA Tour Canada, joined Covello for his annual visit home this week and some of Covello’s local U.S. Open qualifying luck seemed to rub off.
   Leon made it out of local qualifying and ultimately advanced to the 2010 U.S. Open at Pebble Beach.
   Also sharing medalist honors was Joe Parrini, a Country Club of York member who is a junior at Central York High School and an Arizona commit. Parrini finished tied for 11th in the PIAA Class AAA Championship at the Heritage Hills Golf Resort last fall.
   The fourth member of the foursome that shared the qualifying medal was Mike Tremps, who plays on the SwingThought Tour and is from Williamsburg, Va.
   Only five tickets were available to sectional qualifying and the last one went to one of the feel-good stories of last year’s qualifying process, former Drexel standout Christopher Crawford.
   Crawford matched par at York with a 70, which left him in a tie for fifth with Mark Kriston Jr., a pro from Winston-Salem, N.C. A par on the second hole of a playoff gave Crawford a berth in sectional qualifying, which will be held June 5 at 10 sites around the country.
   Crawford’s first choice is to return to Canoe Brook Country Club in Summit, N.J., where the Holy Ghost Prep product reached the 2016 U.S. Open at Oakmont Country Club by dropping in a 40-foot birdie putt on the last hole of Canoe Brook’s North Course to cap the 36-hole test.
   His former Drexel teammate Ben Feld was on the bag that day. Feld has since become the head coach at Drexel and Crawford, probably the best player in the history of the program, helped out with the team this year as a volunteer assistant while completing the last year of his five-year program of study at Drexel.
   A couple of the near misses at the Country Club of York included P.J. Acierno, who recently completed an outstanding career at La Salle, and Michael Davis, who capped his junior season at Princeton by finishing tied for sixth at the Ivy League Championship. Both carded a 2-over 72.
   Another shot back at 73 was Penn State junior Cole Miller, the former Northwestern Lehigh standout and reigning Pennsylvania Amateur champion. Miller finished tied for sixth at the Big Ten Championship and will lead the Nittany Lions as they tee it up in the NCAA regional at Aldarra Golf Club in Sammamish, Wash. beginning Wednesday.
   Another local Open qualifier was held Wednesday at Green Brook Country Club in Caldwell, N.J. and one of the co-medalists there was Kyle Sterbinsky, the former Peddie School standout who plays out of Huntingdon Valley Country Club.
   Sterbinsky fired a 4-under 67 at Green Brook. He is a sophomore at Wake Forest, but did not make the starting lineup for the ACC Championship. The Demon Deacons are seeded second in the NCAA regional being held at the University of Texas Golf Club in Austin, Texas.
   Not sure if earning a share of medalist honors at a U.S. Open local qualifier will be factored into the decision as to whether Sterbinsky will make the lineup for the regionals. But if he doesn’t make it, it certainly gives you an idea of the talent level in Division I college golf whereby a program like Wake Forest has five players better than Sterbinsky to fill its lineup for a postseason tournament.
   Sterbinsky was also the medalist in the U.S. Amateur qualifier administered by GAP last summer at White Manor Country Club and Aronimink Golf Club.

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