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Monday, July 2, 2018

Ingraham, Grier, Coe can't make the cut on a couple of major professional stages

   It was a full weekend of major championship golf with both the U.S. Senior Open and the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship being contested.
   Unfortunately, none of the local entries in either tournament made it past Friday.
   Stu Ingraham, the head of instruction at the M Golf Range in Newtown Square, had made the cut on the number and finished tied for 49th in his first appearance in a United States Golf Association Championship in last year’s U.S. Senior Open at Salem Country Club in Peabody, Mass.
   The 58-year-old Ingraham, the Philadelphia Section PGA’s reigning eight-time Robert “Skee” Riegel Senior Player of the Year, carded rounds of 77 and 80 at the East Course at The Broadmoor in Colorado Springs, Colo. to miss cut by nine shots.
   Ingraham was coming off a missed cut in the PGA Professional Championship at the Bayonet and Black Horse Resort on the Monterey Peninsula in northern California. It was his 30th appearance in a PGA of America national championship.
   Probably the best round of the spring for Ingraham was the qualifier to get to The Broadmoor as he fired a 2-under 70 at Indian Valley Country Club to claim medalist honors.
   Ingraham just couldn’t get it going on the East Course at The Broadmoor. He didn’t have any train wrecks, but he couldn’t make any birdies and he made a lot of bogeys.
   Ingraham got his lone birdie of the week at the par-5 third hole in the opening round, but eight bogeys left him with a 77. He made 10 bogeys and eight pars in his second-round 80.
   The other two players who qualified at Indian Valley, PGA Tour Champions regular Joey Sindelar and Bobby Gage of New Smyrna Beach, Fla., who plays out of Green Woods Country Club in Winstead, Conn., did play all four rounds at The Broadmoor.
   Sindelar struggled in the final round with an 81 to finish alone in 57th at 19-over 299. After making the cut on the number at 148, Gage rattled off a pair of 1-over 71s to finish tied for 31st.
   Sean Knapp, the longtime western Pennsylvania amateur standout who earned his spot in the field by winning the U.S. Senior Amateur championship at The Minikahda Club in Minneapolis last summer, missed the cut by three shots. He rallied with a 2-over 72 in the second round after opening with a 79.
   John Smoltz, the standout starter and reliever with the Atlanta Braves all those years, qualified for the U.S. Senior Open. After struggling to an opening-round 85, Smoltz relaxed a little and carded a 77 for a 162 total.
   David Toms used the mental toughness that made him a major champion at the 2001 PGA Championship to hold on for a one-shot victory and became a senior major winner at The Broadmoor.
   Toms going into position with a 4-under 66 in the third round and closed with an even-par 70 for a 3-under 277 total that gave him the edge over Miguel Angel Jimenez, Tim Petrovic and Jerry Kelly.
   The KPMG Women’s PGA Championship, meanwhile, was being contested at Kemper Lakes Golf Club in Killdeer, Ill.
   The Philadelphia Section PGA was represented by Overbrook Golf Club assistant pro Ashley Grier and Mays Landing, N.J. native Joanna Coe, the director of junior golf at Baltimore Country Club, was, like Grier, making her debut on an LPGA major championship stage.
   Neither made the cut. Grier struggled in the opening round with an 83, but relaxed a little in the second round and posted a 77 for a 160 total. Coe, a product of Oakcrest High School, opened with a 77 and added a 78 for a 155 total.
   I’m not exactly sure how the old LPGA Championship, which was once played in our backyard at DuPont Country Club every year, morphed into the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship, played under the auspices of the PGA of America.
   But if it gets club pros like Grier and Coe a chance to play in a major championship, in much the same  way that the top 20 finishers in the PGA Professional Championship earn spots in the PGA Championship field, I’m all for it. Club pros are the unsung heroes of the game and deserve a little reward.
   I have a feeling Coe was a little more disappointed in her showing in last month’s LPGA ShopRite Classic at the Stockton Seaview Hotel & Golf Resort Bay Course. Coe made the field for the third time, but for the first time since 2011, in a Monday qualifier. But she missed the 36-hole cut with a pair of 77s on a course she’s very familiar with.
   The KPMG Women’s PGA Championship will return to our backyard in two years when the tournament is staged at Aronimink Golf Club, the Donald Ross masterpiece in Newtown Square.
   The KPMG Women’s PGA Championship almost resulted in the first major championship for an alumnae of the 2016 U.S. Women’s Amateur at Rolling Green Golf Club.
   Nasa Hataoka, the 19-year-old from Japan, fired a spectacular 8-under 64 over the tough Kemper Lakes layout in the final round that got her into a playoff with South Korean major champions Sung Hyun Park and So Yeon Ryu at 10-under 278.
   It looked like Ryu was on her way to her third major championship win when she found the water on the 17th hole and ended up with a double bogey.
   Hataoka was eliminated on the first hole of the playoff and Park birdied the second hole of the playoff to add a KPMG Women’s PGA Championship victory to the major win she claimed last summer in the U.S. Women’s Open at Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, N.J.
   I watched almost the entire round-of-16 match between Hataoka, then 17, and Katelyn Dambaugh, who still had a year left at South Carolina, at Rolling Green and was rewarded with some tremendous golf. Hataoka won the match, 2 and 1, but I knew I was looking at two future professional golfers that day.
   Hataoka did become the first alum from Rolling Green to win an LPGA event when she fired a final round of 8-under 63 to take last month’s NW  Arkansas Championship by six shots with a 21-under 192 total that broke Ryu’s  tournament record by three shots.
   The girl is not afraid to take it low and I don’t think she’s the last player I saw that week at Rolling Green who will win on the professional level.

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