July 1, 2009

Ballo Bests Field for Ike Title

By Billy Condon

A final round 66 was what it took for Mike Ballo to top the field for his first MGA championship. Ballo, who already won the WGA Amateur this year used a stellar back nine to secure a victory. Lurking around the top of the leaderboard after the first two rounds and shooting a one-over par 36 on his final-round's front nine, Ballo put his game in high gear for his back nine, firing a 30. The low nine-hole score for the championship. Ballo appeared to be in trouble on the 18th hole when he pulled his drive left into thick rough under a tree, but Ballo remained poised and hit his approach shot to about five feet, and then capitalized on the shot by sinking the birdie putt, marking his third birdie in his final four holes.

Besides the outstanding 30, Ballo's key to success was his consistency. He never posted higher than a 71, shot 35 twice on the back and 36 twice on the front. The only anomaly to the scorecard was a positive one, the five-under 30.

Finishing in second and third place was Chris DeForest and Roger Hoit, respectively. Both DeForest and Hoit shot final round 73's.

DeForest Shoots Second Round 66

By Billy Condon

This just in - Chris DeForest carded a second-round 66 to be the clubhouse leader at 136. DeForest now leads Saladino and Hoit by two and Michael Quagliano is five behind DeForest at 141.

At this point in the championship, the gap in scores is widening as players look to keep themselves in contention for this afternoon's final round!

Sog Island

By Billy Condon

After thunderstorms caused play to be delayed, the players are back out on the course and low scores continue to saturate the leaderboard. Roger Hoit finished his second round with an impressive 66, good enough as the low round of the tournament so far and is tied for the lead at 138. Joining Hoit is Joe Saladino, who fired a second-round 67. Chris DeForest is still out on the course finishing up his second round, but was 4-under at the turn for the championship.

The weather delay reminded everyone of the scenario that the USGA encountered two weeks ago at Bethpage as they tried to complete the U.S. Open, but the sun is peeking through again and the competitors are eyeing birdies.

How Low Can They Go?

By Billy Condon

The scores coming in this morning have been strong as Liam Quinn of Tuxedo (76) finished his first nine at three-under par and Roger Hoit of Baltusrol (72) made the turn at two-under and is now sitting at even par for the championship. Hoit is no stranger to playing well at the Ike, having won the championship at Fresh Meadow in 2006. Conditions are near perfect with a slight breeze as the 47 players look to make their move up the leaderboard before the final round this afternoon.

Same Course, Different Looks

By Greg Midland

MGA Tournament Director Brian Mahoney put in place some interesting course setup changes at Nassau Country Club for today's second and third rounds of the Ike Championship. The par-three third hole, which was completed last year as part of a course renovation, will play just 114 yards for this morning's second round, down from 159 yards yesterday. The teeing ground used for this distance is farther to the right, calling for players to hit their tee shots directly over the pond to a front hole location that should yield some birdies.

For this afternoon's third round, the same hole location will be used but the tees will be pushed back to 205 yards. "It's a chance for us to give the players an entirely different look from the second to third rounds," said Mahoney.

Another hole that could yield some drama today is the par-four ninth. Yesterday, it played at 303 yards but today it will be shortened to 285, giving a number of players in the field the chance to drive the green if they so choose. It's a risk/reward situation that could result in some birdies and maybe an eagle or two, but also some bogeys if players get too aggressive and hit a wayward drive.