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Saturday, December 30, 2017

A lot of golf and a few loops for this blogger in 2017

   There has never really been a plan for this golf blog. I just sort of follow it where it wants to take me.
   It wasn’t quite the year of golf in 2017 that 2016 was. With the U.S. Women’s Amateur at Rolling Green Golf Club and the U.S. Mid-Amateur Championship at Stonewall in 2016 – and me resurrecting my career as a caddy and actually getting a bag in the Mid-Am, something I would never have imagined when 2016 dawned – it was the perfect year to take the blog to a different level.
   Originally planned as a supplement to my golf coverage in the Delaware County Daily Times, T Mac Tees Off became part therapy from the sudden end to a 38-year career in newspaper business and part fun with a sport that I have grown to love since my first loop around Merion Golf Club’s historic East Course in the spring of 1969.
   Somehow though I’ve made more posts in 2017 than I did in 2016, despite picking up a “day job” at the U.S. Traffic Network, although most of my shifts in my part-time job occur, quite literally, in the middle of the night. This will be the 417th and final post of 2017. One of the reasons for that is that I discovered a lot of golf stuff that I was vaguely aware was out there while expanding the blog in 2016 and that just led me to even more interesting golf news. Like I said, a lot of time I just go where the blog leads me.
   One of the most interesting things to me is following the local qualifiers for the various United States Golf Association championships. And then following how the local players who get out of those qualifiers do once the championship is held. And well, heck, once you’ve gone that far, you might as well stick with the USGA championship to the end. The same goes when the Philadelphia Section PGA pros -- and this area has plenty of good players -- make it to the national club pro events.
   Much as with the Mid-Am in 2016, the highlight of 2017 for this blogger had to do with grabbing a bag at Stonewall. 
   In the last couple of weeks of July I caddied in the Golf Association of   Philadelphia’s Christman Cup, a 36-hole junior event staged at Stonewall’s North Course and a U.S. Amateur qualifier held at both the North Course and the Old Course at Stonewall. There were also some practice rounds in there for both championships.
   That much of that stretch had a distinctly Inter-Ac League flavor – past, present and future – was part coincidence and part planned.
   When Penn Charter senior Brian Isztwan lost in the final of GAP’s Junior Boys’ Championship to Souderton product and Temple freshman Dawson Anders, I e-mailed his dad Andy and offered my services for the Christman Cup. I had first heard from Andy Isztwan when Brian won the Bert Linton Memorial – the Inter-Ac’s individual championship – as a freshman after I had done a writeup in the Daily Times.
   Andy proposed that I caddy for Brian and younger brother Patrick in a practice round the Sunday before the Christman Cup and see how that went. I got the go-ahead. Patrick had caddied for Brian in the GAP Junior Boys’ final, but Patrick, a pretty nice player in his own right, was also teeing it up in the Christman Cup.
   It’s about 10 degrees out as I write this, so the memory of 36 holes on the nearly shadeless North on a day when the heat index soared past 100 is a warm one right now, but it was a hot one at the time.
   Our playing partner was Malvern Prep senior Matt Davis, younger brother of 2015 GAP BMW Philadelphia Amateur runnerup Michael. His caddy was the Christman Cup winner a year earlier, Davis’ former Malvern Prep teammate Marty McGuckin, a sophomore at Temple.
   Turned out McGuckin was going to be playing in the U.S. Amateur qualifier in a couple of weeks and since I was angling for a bag in that, too, I readily agreed to loop for him and former Malvern Prep and current Temple teammate Joe Chambers for a practice round on the Old Course the following week.
   In addition to being tremendous young men, Isztwan and Davis are really good players. And McGuckin had plenty of insight on a Temple golf team that I have followed pretty closely since writing about the team in Joe Burkhardt’s Tri-State Golfer.
   Isztwan struggled a little early, but got it going in the afternoon, highlighted by a chip-in eagle after going over the par-5 third hole in two. Two-time District One Class AAA champion Ben Pochet of Spring-Ford had completed his two rounds at 1-over 141 before weather – including the ever-popular tornado watch -- halted play for the day. Isztwan slept on a 15-footer for birdie at the 15th and made it to get it to 2-over for the tournament.
   He would struggle a little on the last three holes, but maybe it was fitting that Isztwan and Davis would finish tied for fifth at 4-over 144. Isztwan’s 1-under 69 equaled the best round of the afternoon round, matched by Austin Barbin of the Elkton, Md. Barbins.
   I had another enjoyable afternoon on the golf course with McGuckin as he, Chambers and me had the Old Course to ourselves for a quick practice round the following week. I also grabbed the bag of one Matt Smith, a player from the Wilmington, Del area who’s a Yalie, although not a member of the golf team, for a practice round.
   When Smith blasted a 5-iron from a bunker 220 yards way on to the green on the fly for his second shot at the par-5 opening hole, I was like, OK, this guy can play a little.
   Neither McGuckin nor Smith were committal for the actual qualifier, so it was the luck of the draw when I was assigned yet another Inter-Ac guy, Haverford School junior A.J. Aivazoglou, for what turned into a long, long day.
   You get the feeling that the USGA would like nothing more than an hour-and-a-half rain delay at the start, followed by a 90-degree steambath for a few hours and another delay for a thunderstorm just to make sure it gets some worthy qualifiers for its championships.
   I again lucked out with the presence of James Kania Jr., a former Haverford School standout and GAP’s 2009 William Hyndman III Player of the Year, in our group. The first time I had ever laid eyes on Stonewall was to watch Kania play in the 2009 Philly Am final, in which he lost to Conrad Von Borsig.
   Darkness was descending at the ’Wall when we finally finished. Tom Doak’s twin gems had frustrated Aivazoglou as he had a no-birdie 75 at the North and an 82 at the Old Course. But the 16-year-old lefty, a Rolling Green member, can play.
   Three months later, I headed for Huntingdon Valley Country Club, the home course for Team Isztwan, for the Bert Linton Memorial, the Inter-Ac’s individual championship, having seen the cream of the Inter-Ac crop at Stonewall in the summer.
   There was just enough wind to make the William Flynn design play really tough that day. Patience was the only club in the bag that mattered.
   Brian Isztwan struggled mightily, particularly on the back nine, which everybody played first, and carded an 88. Davis was in the group with Isztwan and also struggled early, but battled back with an even-par 35 on the front and finished tied for third with a 77.
   Aivazoglou was in hunt for a while, but sailed his tee shot on the par-3 third hole out of bounds. He finished tied for sixth with a 79.
   I had seen the Bert Linton winner that week at Stonewall, though. Patrick Isztwan, like Brian when he won, a freshman, didn’t make a birdie, but his 5-over 75 gave him a one-shot victory over The Haverford School’s Charlie Baker. Like I said, I had seen the Inter-Ac’s past and present at Stonewall in the summer and in Patrick Isztwan, I had seen its future.
   I heard from Brian Isztwan’s dad not long after Brian teed it up in the American Junior Golf Association’s Rolex Tournament of Champions at the PGA National Resort & Spa last month. He earned his trip to the event by being named to The Transamerica Scholastic Junior All-America Team.
   He will continue his academic and athletic pursuits at Harvard. It is a university that prides itself on getting the best of the best. In Brian Isztwan, it is getting just that.
   By the way, Davis is staying local and will take his game a few miles down Lancaster Avenue to Villanova. That’s a good get for Villanova coach Jim Wilkes. Davis will absolutely be an asset to the Wildcats’ program.
   The Bert Linton came in the midst of a high school postseason during which I was able to get out and cover a few events, or do a little live-blogging it as we bloggers call it.
   Pochet edged Central Bucks East junior Patrick Sheehan by a shot to repeat as the District One Class AAA champion in a tremendous battle at Turtle Creek Golf Club. Sheehan had shared the opening-round lead with a 3-under 69 at the Turtle, but Pochet caught him and passed him with a brilliant 7-under 65.
   Michelle Ryan, probably the biggest fan of the blog, looked on nervously throughout the postseason as her two sons, Caleb Ryan, a junior, and Joshua, a freshman, both made it to the PIAA Championship at the Heritage Hills Golf Resort. Home-schooled, the Ryan brothers represent Norristown High on the golf course.
   At Heritage Hills, I mostly stuck with the final pairing of the girls AAA tournament, thinking that either District One champion Samantha Yao of Conestoga or her pal, Downingtown East’s Liddie McCook, might pull out a victory.
   But Lauren Freyvogel of Pine Richland hung on gamely for a two-shot victory over McCook with Yao, who just couldn’t get a putt to fall, finishing fourth, five behind Freyvogel and three behind McCook. North Allegheny’s Caroline Wrigley surged into third with a final round of 1-over 73. All four of the players at the top of the final leaderboard are juniors.
   While I was watching the girls, though, Holy Ghost Prep junior Liam Hart was putting together a solid even-par 71 to claim a hard-fought one-shot victory over Palmer Jackson of Franklin Regional and Hunter Bruce of Peters Township that gave him the Class AAA title.
   Hart had finished tied for seventh at districts and advanced to states on the number in difficult conditions in the East Regional at Golden Oaks Golf Club a week earlier. He was at his best at Heritage Hills when it counted and brought a state title back to District One.
   I couldn’t hang around for the team competition at Heritage Hills, but maybe nobody had a better week at Heritage Hills than Unionville junior Connor Bennink. A day after finishing tied for fifth in the individual competition, Bennink helped the perennially strong Indians bring the Class AAA team championship back to Chester County. Unionville finished four shots ahead of a very strong Central York team.
   A couple more loops at Stonewall stood out in 2017. In a Pro-Partner event late in the season, I was assigned to Joanna Coe, a club pro at Baltimore Country Club.
   Coe, a collegiate standout at Rollins who played several years on the Symetra Tour, shot a 3-over 73 that easily could have been an even-par round if a couple of cruel lip-outs had fallen in her first look at the Old Course. She is really a nice player.
   Coe, a Jersey Shore native, was named the Middle Atlantic Section PGA OMEGA Women’s Player of the Year for the second year in a row and will take her game to a major stage in 2018 after earning a spot in the field for the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship at Kemper Lakes Golf Club in Kildeer, Ill. next summer.
   And in what has quickly become my favorite event at the ’Wall, the Fall Scramble, I drew Matt O’Donnell, whom early risers see anchoring the morning news on 6-ABC, and his pal Mark Coassolo, the 2015 Lehigh Valley Mid-Amateur champion and former golf coach at Fleetwood.
   For two glorious late October days, it was just a lot of fun on two great golf courses with a couple of really nice guys, both of whom can play a little. The scramble format with a couple of good players is really an interesting dynamic.
   I once again really enjoyed following the college golf scene, right up to the NCAA Championship for the men and women at Rich Harvest Farms in Sugar Grove, Ill.
   No team caught my fancy more than my Penn State Nittany Lions (full disclosure: Class of ’77). Cole Miller’s victory in the Washington Regional that helped Greg Nye’s team earn a trip to Rich Harvest Farms was easily the most under-reported success story in Pennsylvania golf in 2017. That and Sean Knapp’s victory in the U.S. Senior Amateur Championship at The Minikahada Club in Minneapolis.
   If you didn’t see it in your local paper, you could probably find it in this blog. I specialize in the stuff that, once upon a time, appeared in the local paper, but no longer does.
   Once again, if you finished in the top 10 in any division of a Philadelphia Section PGA Junior Tour event in 2017, your name likely appeared in a T Mac Tees Off blog post. It is fascinating to watch some of these young kids’ scores improve, often dramatically, over the course of a year.
   So, let’s see how 2018 works out. I’ll be forced the mention the very best men’s players in the world a little because the BMW Championship, the next-to-last stop in the PGA Tour’s FedEx playoffs, is coming to Aronimink Golf Club, the Donald Ross masterpiece in Newtown Square, late in the summer.
   But the headliners in this blog will continue to come from the junior ranks, the college scene, the GAP and Philadelphia Section PGA circuits and the USGA events. It’s a Curtis Cup year, too. Looking forward to it and I’ll try to keep you posted.

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Oklahoma teen Son repeats in Dixie Women's Amateur

   Not everybody spent the week before Christmas looking for that last-minute gift.
   Some of the top amateur golfers flocked to South Florida for the Dixie Women’s Amateur and the Dixie Amateur.
   In the Dixie Women’s Amateur, 16-year-old Yujeong Son of Norman, Okla. finished off a dominating run at Woodlands Country Club in Tamarac, Fla. Friday with an efficient 4-under-par 68 for a 72-hole total of 13-under 275 and a convincing three-shot victory.
   Son became only the second player to repeat in Dixie Women’s Amateur. The only other player to successfully defend at the Dixie Women’s Amateur is former Purdue standout Paula Reto of South Africa, who was on hand to present the trophy to the winner. Reto finished third in the LPGA Qualifying School’s Final Stage earlier this month to assure her of full-time status for a fourth year in the big league of women’s golf.
   Son had four birdies and no bogeys in her final-round 68 and had only two bogeys in the tournament. After opening with an even-par 72, she posted rounds of 67 and 68 before her closing 68.
   “It’s the winter, it’s cold, so it’s good to catch the Florida sun,” Son told amateurgolf.com.
   A native of South Korea who moved to Oklahoma at age 6, Son plans to turn pro rather than play college golf, although it sounds like she’ll play at least another year of amateur golf.
   Another youngster, Florida junior standout Cindy Kou fired a spectacular 8-under 64 in the final round to finish alone in second at 10-under 278, three shots behind Son.
   Heading the list of collegiate standouts in the field was UCLA freshman Patty Tatavanakit, who matched par in the final round with a 72 to finish third at 8-under 280. Tatavanakit, a native of Thailand, is a key member of a UCLA team that is ranked No. 1 by Golfstat as college golf takes its annual midseason sojourn.
   Dylan Kim, a junior from Plano, Texas, was one of three members of the No. 4 Arkansas golf team who teed it up in the Dixie Women’s Amateur and finished tied for fourth with Lily May Humphreys, a 15-year-old phenom from England.
   Kim finished strong with rounds of 69 and 68 to end up at 7-under 281.
   Kim’s Arkansas teammate, Maria Fassi, a junior from Mexico, played in the final group Friday with Son and Tatavanakit, but fell back a little with a 2-over 74 for a 4-under 284 total that left her tied for seventh. The third Arkansas player in the field was Cara Gorlei, a junior from South Africa who finished tied for 23rd at 4-over 292.
   There was no hotter team in the country than the Razorbacks at the start of the fall portion of the college golf season. They ascended to the No. 1 spot in the rankings before cooling off a little late in the fall. Arkansas will be a team to be reckoned with when the college golf season reaches the homestretch in April.
   Humphreys won the British Girls Amateur title last summer and is one of 14 players named to the provisional Great Britain & Ireland team, which will try to retain the Curtis Cup when the biennial competition is played in June at Quaker Ridge Golf Club in Scarsdale, N.Y.
   Humphreys put together a pair of 68s to open the Dixie Women’s Amateur before battling headaches and allergies in the final two rounds. Still, she had rounds of 74 and 71 to get a piece of fourth along with Kim at 7-under 281.
   North Carolina’s Kelly Whaley, a junior from Farmington, Conn., posted a final round of 2-under 70 to finish at 3-under 285 and alone in ninth.
   Alexa Pano, the 13-year-old Florida phenom, had a final round of 71 to finish tied for 31st at 8-over 296.
   Penn State junior Lauren Waller, the runnerup in the 2014 PIAA Class AAA Championship as a senior at Canon-McMillan, had a final round of 2-under 70 to finish tied for 38th at 9-over 297. Notre Dame junior Isabella DiLisio, the 2013 PIAA Class AAA champion as a junior at Mount St. Joseph, struggled in the final round with an 81 after playing 7-over golf in the first three rounds, and finished tied for 53rd at 15-over 303.
   Reigning Pennsylvania Junior Girls’ champion Rylie Heflin failed to make the cut for the final day with rounds of 79, 85 and 83. But it was undoubtedly a great experience for Heflin, a freshman at Tower Hill School in Wilmington, Del.
   The winner of the Dixie Amateur, which concluded Friday at Heron Bay Golf Club in Coral Springs, Fla., was South Florida commit Luke Gifford, a high school senior from nearby Boca Raton.
   Gifford dropped in clutch 10-foot birdie putt on the final hole to match par in the final round with a 72 that gave him a 5-under 283 total and a one-shot victory over three players.
   The trio that finished tied for second at 4-under 284 included Diego Cordova, a Florida scholastic standout who closed strong with a 4-under 68, Florida Tech sophomore Han Xue of China, who had a final-round 70, and Paul-Louis Gachet of France, who matched par in the final round with a 72.
   Former Radnor High standout Carey Bina matched par in the final round to finish tied for 44th at 11-over 299. Former Haverford School standout Max Siegfried, a freshman at Virginia, missed the cut with rounds of 77 and 78.
   Doug Hanzel of Savannah, Ga. captured the senior title for third time, his 1-under 215 total giving him a six-shot cushion over runnerup Mark Knecht of Paducah, Ky. Hanzel, among the top senior players in the country, opened with a sparkling 6-under 66 at TPC at Eagle Trace before adding rounds of 74 and 75.
   Hanzel gave western Pennsylvania’s Sean Knapp, the eventual winner, one of Knapp’s toughest tests on his way to the U.S. Senior Amateur championship at The Minikahda Club in Minneapolis, Minn. last summer. Knapp survived a battle with Hanzel in the round of 16 with a 2 and 1 victory.
   Jeffrey Knox of Brecksville, Ohio captured the super senior division with a 5-over 221 total. Knox had rounds of 74, 75 and 72 on his way a 12-shot victory over a pair of Floridians, Keith Keister of Orlando, and John Osborne of Vero Beach. Keister and Osborne finished up at 17-over 233.

Saturday, December 16, 2017

Hagestad, Maguire are Global Golf Post's top amateurs for 2017

   Global Golf Post, the world’s first designed-for-digital golf news publication, takes on the difficult task of identifying the world’s top amateur players with its annual All-Amateur teams each year and the 2017 teams were released last week.
   I was all over it last year when Global Golf Post named LedgeRock Golf Club’s Chip Lutz, three times the winner of the Seniors Amateur Championship and the reigning eight-time Golf Association of Philadelphia Senior Player of the Year, the top male amateur golfer in the world a year ago.
   It wasn’t mentioned in the coverage this year, but it appears Global Golf Post expanded the annual feature this year to include teams for men’s and women’s mid-amateur and senior players. I might be wrong, but it seems when I checked the All-Amateur issue at this time a year ago, there were only one men’s and one women’s amateur teams.
   Global Golf Post admits that the men’s and women’s World Amateur Golf Rankings have a big say in determining its men’s and women’s amateur teams. Determining mid-am and senior teams is a tough task, but give Global Golf Post credit for going the extra mile to recognize those men and women, most of whom are tremendous players who compete for the love of the game and the love of the competition.
   Lutz, by the way, does appear on the All-Amateur senior men’s first team even though he had, by his standards, an off year.
   Succeeding Lutz as Global Golf Post’s men’s amateur of the year is Stewart Hagestad, the 26-year-old Californian who a few lucky Philadelphia area golf fans like myself got to watch come from 4-down with five holes to play to win the 2016 U.S. Mid-Amateur Championship on the 37th hole of an epic final with Scott Harvey at Stonewall.
   The top woman amateur in the world in 2017 is Leona Maguire, the 22-year-old Irishwoman who is a senior at Duke and has been at or near the top of the Women’s World Amateur Golf Ranking for going on three years.
   The victory at Stonewall was the launching pad for Hagestad’s award-winning 2017. First of all, it earned him an invitation to the Masters. Hagestad, who starred collegiately at Southern California, decided to quit his job with a commercial real estate firm in New York City and make a full-time commitment to golf in 2017.
   It paid off at Augusta National as he earned some face time in Butler Cabin by claiming the Silver Cup, which goes to the low amateur in the Masters. Hagestad was the only amateur to make the cut, finishing tied for 36th. He was also the first mid-am to make the cut at Augusta. So he had a front-row seat when Sergio Garcia donned the green jacket for the first time, the talented Spaniard’s quest for a major championship finally fulfilled.
   Hagestad also took out a junior membership at Los Angeles Country Club, knowing that as the U.S. Mid-Am champion, it was likely he would be selected to the U.S. team for the Walker Cup. L.A. Country Club is famously shy about its two courses, although they are highly thought of by those in golf course architect circles.
   Hagestad joined an absolutely loaded group of collegians and he contributed a come-from-behind 2 and 1 victory over Great Britain & Ireland’s Jack Singh Brar that may or may not have clinched the Walker Cup for the U.S. There were a lot of matches about to close out and the outcome of what would become a 19-7 U.S. victory was no longer in doubt. Suffice it to say, it was a pretty good weekend in L.A. for Hagestad.
   In some ways, Hagestad played better in 2016. He fired a 64 at the Capital City Club’s Crabapple Course in Atlanta in the second round to finish tied for second in qualifying and appeared ready for a strong defense of the U.S. Mid-Am title he won at Stonewall.
   But then Dusty Drenth, a 29-year-old salesman for a supply company in Davenport, Iowa stunned Hagestad in the first round of match play, claiming a 3 and 1 victory. Like I said at the top, there a lot of good players out there.
   “I wish I had been able to go deeper,” Hagestad told Global Golf Post concerning the Mid-Am defeat. “But I am still very pleased with my year. And I will never forget what it was like hugging my mother and father after the Masters and also after the Walker Cup. They had supported me so completely and because of them, I was able to win a USGA championship and play on a Walker Cup team.”
   It sounds like Hagestad will be around for a while. He has embraced being a mid-am. He’ll play a lot of golf again next summer before going back to school in the fall to pursue a graduate business degree. There will be plenty of opportunities for him to play amateur golf at the highest levels for years to come.
   Maguire is somebody you’ll be seeing on your TV screen, or your phone or your tablet if you must, playing on the LPGA Tour in the not-too-distant future.
   She could probably be there already, but she has chosen to finish out her four years at Duke. Maguire was eligible to tee it up in the LPGA Q-School’s Final Stage last year and this year, but announced while pulling out of Stage III a year ago that she intended to finish her entire senior year at Duke.
   I’ve posted on the Final Stage of LPGA Q-School the last two years, but there was one little subtlety in the Final Stage that I have been getting wrong. The top 20 finishers earn full-time status on the LPGA Tour for the following year. That part I had right.
   But I was under the impression that if an amateur finished in the top 20, she could choose to not accept the card and return to her college team. That is incorrect. If you finish in the top 20, you’re a pro, your college career is over. Now I understand why Maguire chose not to play in Stage III after advancing out of Stages I and II each of the last two years.
   “I wanted to stay until May and by going to second stage (of Q-School), I was assured of having Symetra Tour status,” Maguire told Global Golf Post. “Obviously, I’ll miss seven or eight Symetra Tour events early in the year, but earning your LPGA card through the latter half of the Symetra Tour is still very doable.
   “And if I earn my way on (the LPGA Tour) through the Symetra Tour, I’ll likely have better status than if I went through the final stage of Q-School anyway.”
   Last spring’s Southeast Conference champion Katelyn Dambaugh of South Carolina just made it by finishing 10th in the Volvik Race for the Card in 12 Symetra Tour events, although Dambaugh gambled on possibly losing the spring part of her senior season by playing in the Final Stage of Q-School last year.
   Maguire won the ACC individual title while leading the Blue Devils to the conference championship. She finished tied for second in weather only an Irish girl could love in the NCAA Championship at Rich Harvest Farms in Sugar Grove, Ill. For the second time in three years, Maguire received the Annika Award that goes to the top player in Division I college golf.
   Maguire claimed the Ladies British Open Amateur Championship at the Kyle & Penfig Golf Club in  Wales in the summer. She has played on three British & Great Britain Curtis Cup teams, including the home side’s victory at Dun Laoghaire Golf Club in suburban Dublin in the spring of 2016. Think Maguire has any fans in Ireland? Yeah, me too.
   If making sure she walks away from Duke with a degree sounds smart, you’re right. Maguire plays golf the same way, really smart.
   Only one thing has eluded Maguire in her career at Duke, a national championship. The Blue Devils are No. 2 in the Golfstat rankings at the midseason break. In what is shaping up as a tremendous spring of women’s college golf, Maguire’s pursuit of that goal is one of many intriguing subplots.
   Several of Hagestad’s teammates on the winning U.S. Walker Cup team can be found on Global Golf Post’s All-Amateur men’s first team, including U.S. Amateur champion Doc Redman, a sophomore at Clemson, Collin Marikawa, a junior at California, Norman Xiong, a sophomore at Oregon, NCAA champion Braden Thornberry, a junior at Mississippi, U.S. Amateur runnerup Doug Ghim, a senior at Texas, and Cameron Champ, who recently turned pro after playing the fall portion of his senior season at Texas A&M.
   Two members of the GB&I Walker Cup side, Florida State’s Harry Ellis, winner of The Amateur Championship at Royal St. George’s Golf Club last summer, and Alfie Plant, the low amateur in the Open Championship at Royal Birkdale, are also on the first team. Both are Englishmen.
   Rounding out the first team is Joaquin Nieman, the junior phenom from Chile who ascended to the top of the World Amateur Golf Ranking and promptly turned pro, deciding to pass on the scholarship he had accepted to South Florida.
   The second team included a couple more members of the U.S. Walker Cup team, Texas senior Scottie Scheffler, the low amateur in the U.S. Open at Erin Hills, and Wake Forest’s Will Zalatoris, who, the Wake Forest website informs me, turned pro -- the announcement coming Thursday -- and will forgo the second half of his senior season.
   Zalatoris’ former teammate at Wake Forest, but his rival in the Walker Cup, Paul McBride of Ireland, received honorable mention. Also on the honorable mention list is U.S. Junior Amateur champion Noah Goodwin, the American Junior Golf Association’s Rolex Player of the Year.
   Matt Parziale, a firefighter from Boston who captured the U.S. Mid-Amateur Championship at the Capital City Club’s Crabapple Course in Atlanta, joins Hagestad on the men’s mid-amateur first team.
   Nathan Smith, the four-time U.S. Mid-Amateur champion from Pittsburgh and the 1994 PIAA champion as a sophomore at Brookville, also appears on the first team. Smith captured the title in the Pennsylvania Golf Association’s R. Jay Sigel Match Play Championship for the fifth time last summer.
   Harvey, the hard-luck loser to Hagestad in the 2016 U.S. Mid-Am final at Stonewall, is on the first team. Another alumni of that Stonewall U.S. Mid-Am who I was extremely impressed with, Derek Busby, made the first team.
   Rounding out the first team are Americans Tyler Crawford, Patrick Christovich and Michael Muehr, one of the qualifying co-medalists at Stonewall, Peter O’Keefe of Ireland and Garrett Rank of Canada, the Canadian Mid-Amateur champion and, apparently, a full-time NHL referee.
   Delaware County’s own Michael McDermott, a product of Haverford High and Saint Joseph’s University, made the honorable mention list.
   The Merion Golf Club representative probably had a better 2016, when he won the latest of his three Golf Association of Philadelphia’s BMW Amateur championships on Merion’s famed East Course and reached the quarterfinals at Stonewall before falling to Hagestad.
   But McDermott did win the Crump Cup last summer at another of his home courses, Pine Valley Golf Club, for the second time. The Crump Cup is exceeded by only the U.S. Mid-Amateur among titles coveted by mid-ams in this country.
   Another GAP stalwart, Lutz, heads the men’s senior first team.
   Like I said, it was a bit of a down year for Lutz. He could do not better than tie for eighth in defense of his Seniors Amateur Championship at Sunningdale Golf Club’s Old Course. When you’ve won the thing three times, I guess a tie for eighth is disappointing.
   But Lutz’s annual trip across the pond included a low-amateur finish in the Senior Open in dreadful weather at Royal Porthcawl in Wales.
   He reached the round of 16 in the U.S. Senior Amateur at The Minikahda Club in Minneapolis by knocking off a familiar rival in Don Donatoni, the reigning five-time GAP Super-Senior Player of the Year, 5 and 4, in the second round.
   Lutz then ran into a red-hot Paul Simson, a two-time U.S. Senior Amateur champion, and the 66-year-old Simson knocked Lutz out.
   Joining Lutz on the first team is the winner that week at The Minikahda Club, western Pennsylvania’s Sean Knapp, who, at 55, was making his U.S. Senior Amateur debut.
   Giving a nod to his friend and frequent rival Nathan Smith for passing along some of the secrets of match play – often when Smith was beating him – Knapp edged Simson, 2 and 1.
   Simson made the men’s senior second team.
   Maguire’s fellow members of the women’s first team reads like an NCAA all-star team, led by three members of the Alabama golf team, ranked No. 3 by Golfstat.
   With All-Amateur first-teamers Cheyenne Knight, Lauren Stephenson, both juniors, and sophomore Kristen Gillman, the Crimson Tide might have something to say about who wins the NCAA Championship next spring at the Karsten Creek Golf Club in Stillwater, Okla.
   Lilia Khu-Tu Vu, the leading lady for the top-ranked UCLA Bruins, also appears on the first team. Vu was a semifinalist in the U.S. Women’s Amateur at San Diego Country Club last summer.
   The winner that week in Chula Vista, Calif., Texas senior Sophia Schubert, also appears on the first team. The woman she beat in the final, Stanford sophomore Albane Valenzuela of Switzerland, makes the first team. As does Valenzuela’s fellow Stanford sophomore Andrea Lee.
   Wake Forest junior Jennifer Kupcho, who shared second with Maguire at the NCAA Championship last spring, is on the team.
   Rounding out the first team are a couple of teen phenoms, Rachel Heck of Memphis, Tenn. and China’s Wenbo Liu. Heck, AJGA’s Rolex Player of the Year, made the cut in the U.S. Women’s Open at Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, N.J. at age 15, while Liu beat pros in winning a China LPGA Tour event last spring, also at 15.
   Two of Vu’s teammates at top-ranked UCLA, sophomore Mariel Galdiano and freshman Paphangkorn (Patty) Tavatanakit, head the women’s second team.
   South Korea’s Eun Jeong Seong, who dsominated the summer of 2016 by winning both the U.S. Junior  Girls and U.S. Women’s Amateur championships, is on the second team. It seems as though it’s just a matter of time before Seong turns pro.
   Two college stars who have turned pro in the last month are also on the second team. Robynn Ree will not return for the second half of her junior season at Southern California after earning her LPGA Tour card for 2018 by finishing tied for fifth in the Final Stage of Q-School. And defending NCAA champion Arizona State will lose Linnea Strom to the pro ranks, although the Swede struggled in the Final Stage of Q-School and will start the next stage of her golfing life on the Symetra Tour.
   Also on the second team is one of Strom’s teammates from the Sun Devils’ 2017 national champions, sophomore Olivia Mehaffey, an Irishwoman and a teammate of Maguire’s on the winning Great Britain & Ireland Curtis Cup team in 2016.
   The rest of the second team is populated by teen phenoms, led by California 15-year-old Lucy Li. The latest head-turner by Li came in the second round of the AJGA’s Rolex Tournament of Champions last month when she fired a spectacular 10-under 62 at the PGA National Resort & Spa’s Champion Course on her way to a five-shot victory.
   A couple of Swedes, Florida State recruit Frida Kinhult, and 15-year-old Julia Engstrom and Puk Lyng Thomsen, a 15-year-old from Denmark, round out the second team.
   Katie Miller, who won her second Pennsylvania Women’s Amateur title last summer, landed on the women’s mid-amateur first team. The 32-year-old Miller, a three-time PIAA champion at Hempfield Area and an All-American performer at North Carolina, was one of the three co-medalists in qualifying for match play in the U.S. Women’s Mid-Amateur Championship held at Champions Golf Club’s Cypress Creek Course in Houston.
   Miller of Jeannette popped up in USGA events throughout 2017. She teamed with Delco’s own Aurora Kan, the 2010 PIAA champion as a senior at Chichester, to qualify for match play in the U.S. Women’s Amateur Four-Ball Championship at The Dunes Golf & Beach Club in Myrtle Beach, S.C. and again teamed with Kan and Johnstown’s Katrin Wolfe to lead Pennsylvania to a 20th-place finish in the USGA Women’s State Team Championship at The Club at Las Campanas in Santa Fe, N.M. in September.
   Miller heads an all-American list of 10 players on the first team that also includes South Jersey native Meghan Stasi, a four-time U.S. Mid-Amateur champion who also qualified for match play in this year’s Women’s Mid-Am at Champions. Stasi was also part of a Florida team that finished third in the Women’s State Team in Santa Fe.
   The winner at Champions, Kelsey Chugg, a 26-year-old from Salt Lake City, Utah, also appears on the first team.
   Miller’s two qualifying co-medalists at Champions, Lauren Greenlief, the 2015 U.S. Women’s Mid-Am champion, and former Stanford standout Marissa Mor, also made the team.
   Julia Potter, the 2016 U.S. Women’s Mid-Amateur champion who was the individual medalist at the U.S. State Team at Las Campanas, made the first team. Rounding out the first team were Olivia Herrick, Courtney McKim, Shannon Johnson and Amanda Jacobs.
   Four Canadians head the list of 10 players named to the women’s senior first team, including the suburban Toronto golfing buddies who met for the U.S. Women’s Senior Amateur crown in September at Waverly Country Club in Portland, Ore., Judith Kyrinis and Terrill Samuel.
   Kyrinis captured the title with a 4 and 3 win over her all-too-familiar rival. It was the first time two Canadians had ever met in a USGA final.
   Also making the team from north of our border were Helene Chartrand and Mary Ann Hayward.
Also among the international cast on the senior first team were Sue Wooster of Australia, Macarena Campomanes of Spain and Fiona Edmond of England.
   For Mary Jane Hiestand, it was her remarkable run to the U.S. Women’s Mid-Amateur final at Champions that landed her on the senior women’s first team.
   At 58, Hiestand wasn’t even going to try to qualify for the Mid-Am, but it was scheduled to be played in her hometown of Naples, Fla. at Quail Creek Country Club. Well, she made it, but Hurricane Irma did so much damage to Quail Creek that the Women’s Mid-Am was moved to Champions in Houston and pushed back a month.
   The only player the tenacious Hiestand couldn’t beat was Chugg, who finally stopped Hiestand in the final with a 3 and 1 victory.
   Rounding out the first team was American Lara Tennant.
   Among the second-team selections was Philadelphian Lisa McGill, who was based at Sunnybrook Golf Club for a long time. I’m just not sure if she’s still there.
   The 58-year-old McGill really got it going in the U.S. Women’s Senior Amateur at Waverly, reaching the quarterfinals before falling to the eventual champion Kyrinis in a hard-fought 2 and 1 setback.