June 29, 2010

Day Two at the Ike

-Billy Condon

There are some familiar faces atop the leader board at the Ike. Defending champ Mike Ballo Jr. and 2008 MGA Player of the Year Joe Saladino are recognizable names, but there are also a few relative unknowns who are in contention as well.

Meet Russell Giglio, a 25-year-old Iona graduate who works for IBM. Giglio is tied with Ballo and Saladino and he plays out of Orange County Country Club. Giglio is excited to be in contention and during the rain delay during the first round, texted his family telling them that we was in the lead at the Ike. Giglio took a day off from work to play at the Ike, and joked that now he has to tell his manager he is going to need another day off from work because he made the cut. If Giglio goes on to win, hopefully his manager will cut him some slack for his time out of the office.

The other player tied at the top is Chris Ferraro, who won the NJCAA Division III National Championship this past season for Suny Ulster. Ferraro was also named the Most Outstanding Player by the Mid Hudson Conference and he hopes that his strong finish to the college season continues here at Metropolis. He plays out of Twaalfskill.

At the end of the day it will be a new or familiar face holding the Ike trophy. Until then, let's get to some golf.

June 28, 2010

Play set to resume

-Billy Condon

Play is set to resume at 4:20. Players are getting in position now to finish their rounds.

Rain Delay halts play

-Billy Condon

Play has been stopped as severe rain has been coming down at Metropolis. As of now, there is no set time that play will resume, but the system should pass within the hour. At the time of the delay, Russell Giglio made the turn at 3-under and looks to resume his strong play when the players are let back on the course.

When it rains...

-Billy Condon

It pours. The rain has started coming down and it is coming down hard. The afternoon wave of players now has to deal with a downpour that will be sure to cause scoring issues. Players are still out on the course and have to deal with the elements.

Birmingham makes an ace

-Billy Condon

Michael Birmingham of the Nassau Players club on Long Island made a hole-in-one on the fourth hole, a par-3 from 188 with a 6-iron. Congratulations Michael!

Saladino Leads at the Ike

-Billy Condon

The morning wave of players have finished and Joe Saladino sizzled out on the course with a 2-under 69. Saladino had 6 birdies on the round, no surprise because of his comfort level at Metropolis. Mike Stamberger and Robert Cronheim also came in under par with 1-under 70's. Saladino is the clubhouse leader but defending champ Mike Ballo Jr. and Cameron Wilson are on the course and also have the goods to go low.

The weather for the afternoon is continued heat and humidity with the possibility of storms, but a 100% chance of birdies.

Live Chat from the Ike at Noon

Live from the Ike - a live chat where you can ask questions and send comments about the Ike and the MGA kicks off at noon. Here is the link: Live from the Ike

Why to like the Ike

-Billy Condon

The MGA's amateur stroke play championship, the Ike, is one of the toughest tests of regional amateur golf in the country and brings out one of the premier Met Area fields. Looking at the numbers, it doesn't take long to comprehend why this event is so difficult to win, and why George Zahringer III's five Ike titles will probably never be matched.

20 former MGA champions are in the field of 110, with three of those being former Ike winners (Mike Ballo Jr., Greg Rohlf and Roger Hoit). Cameron Wilson and Joe Saladino, the last two winners of the MGA Player of the Year award are also competing, and both of them, along with Rohlf, played in the MGA's French-American Challenge at Metropolis in 2008, giving the trio an added knowledge of the course.

When you add in the accomplishments and recent strong play of players such as Mike Miller, Dave Pastore, Brian Komline and John Ervasti, the championship will surely be well deserved for the player who comes out on top.

With such a stacked field and outstanding golf course testing the competitors, it is hard to not like the Ike.

Ike kicks off in heat and humidity

-Billy Condon

The 55th Ike Championship is off and running and the field will be feeling the heat both from the competitiveness of one of the finest amateur golf fields, and also from the muggy conditions. It is just before 9:00 and the temperature is already in the high 80's with a heat index of 91.

Players such as 2009 Met Amateur runner-up John Ervasti, 2008 MGA Player of the Year Joe Saladino and 2009 MGA Senior Amateur champ Al Small all teed up in the early wave and are out on the course. They are looking to post solid rounds early before the championship reaches its hottest temperatures.

Two players familiar with MGA championships who will be facing the afternoon heat will be defending Ike champ Mike Ballo Jr. and 2009 MGA Player of the Year Cameron Wilson, who are paired together and tee off at 1:00.

June 7, 2010

Nationwide Miss Brings Pebble Trip

-Billy Condon

A missed cut at this week's Nationwide Tour event turned out to be a "blessing in disguise" for Blaine Peffley. Peffley, a native of Lebanon, Pa., shot a second-round 70 for a combined score of 138 and in turn he can punch his ticket to the U.S. Open at Pebble. Peffley expressed how in golf, you can never get too down nor too high with great rounds and poor rounds. Peffley has conditional status on the Nationwide Tour this season, and through a sponsor exemption, got into the field in Maryland last week. Had he not missed the cut, he would not have had the chance to play a practice round at Canoe Brook, and things may have turned out differently. Peffley likes to keep it simple, attributing his success today succinctly with "fairways and greens, that's all we were trying to do."

Lee Finishes Even

-Billy Condon

Beon Yeong Lee, an amateur from Montreal, put on an afternoon show and shot a second-round 68 to finish at even-par for his two rounds. Although it is too early to tell what this will mean for Lee's chances of heading to Pebble Beach, the seven birdies that Lee put together show that he's got game.

An afternoon round of 68 is impressive given that many players in the field have fizzled off after strong first rounds, and the breezy conditions may continue to plague players who still are on the course. A few players to mention who are still on the course and going strong include Dan McCarthy of Syracuse, N.Y., Blaine Peffley of Lebanon, Pa., and PGA Tour pro Len Mattiace.

Mattiace-Wilson Group Updates

-Adam Holzschuh

18th Hole Shot-by-Shot

-Drive down the right-hand side of the fairway, ended up rolling into the first cut
-Decides to hit fairway wood, pulls it left, but the ball takes a gratuitous bounce off of a tree and puts him in a decent lie with a look at the pin
-Pitch shot hits the back edge of the green, bounces off the back
-Beautiful chip just past the pin, sinks a par-saving 7-footer

-Wilson's drive strays into the right fairway bunker, however he has a decent lie
-Great shot out of the sand to put him approximately 75 yards from the hole on the left side of the fairway
-Pitch shot takes a hard bounce and rolls off of the back of the green
-Chip shot comes up short, leaves Wilson with an 8-foot par putt, which he lips out
-Makes tap in for bogey on the 18th

Mattiace-Wilson Group Update

-Adam Holzschuh

Mark it down as another par for Mattiace at the 17th. He remains at two-under for his first nine of the afternoon round. Cameron Wilson missed another close par putt for his fourth bogey of the second round.

Mattiace-Wilson Group Updates

-Adam Holzschuh

Len Mattiace continues his consistent play by recording another par at the 16th. Wilson's struggles continue as his 10-foot par attempt lipped out forcing him to settle for another bogey, his third in seven holes, and bringing him back to even for the day.

Mattiace-Wilson Group Updates

-Adam Holzschuh

Cameron Wilson misses his ten-foot birdie putt on the 15th hole as both players walk away with pars.

Mattiace-Wilson Group Updates

-Billy Condon

We will be providing updates for the group of Len Mattiace and Cameron Wilson for their first nine holes of the second round. Mattiace started off Par-Birdie-Par-Birdie-Par while Wilson went Bogey-Bogey-Par-Par-Par as they just finished the 14th hole. Mattiace drilled a six footer for birdie on the 13th and his birdie on the 11th hole was one of the few on the day - if not the only one on the challenging par 3.

Wilson struggled to find his rhythm out of the gate as both his approach shots and putts missed the target on the opening holes. The young phenom is familiar to the pressures of tournament golf, but with a first trip to the U.S. Open on the line, mental toughness will be the key.

Soaring Eagles

-Billy Condon

Andrew Giuliani, the 2009 Met Open champ closed out his morning round in style by holing out from the fairway for eagle on the par-4 ninth hole, his final hole of the morning round. It was a great way to finish up a rocky opening round as Giuliani bogeyed holes 5-7 (his 14th, 15th and 16th), and then went birdie-eagle to finish.

Jim McGovern finished the morning round at even par, and with a large contingent of fans following the New Jersey native, McGovern looks to use that support to continue his strong play into the second round.

Peffley Fires Morning 68

Blaine Peffley of Lebanon, Pennsylvania, holds the early morning clubhouse lead after shooting a 4-under 68. He put together a solid first round with two birdies on the front and back and no bogeys.

Peffley currently plays on the NGA Hooters Tour and theEGolf Professional Tour. He began his college golf career at the University of Arizona and later transferred to the University of Maryland. He has two NGA Hooters Tour victories.

A Cardinal's Eagle

-Billy Condon

Add it to the highlight reel - Cameron Wilson drained a 25-foot eagle putt on the par-5 12th hole. Wilson found himself 238 yards from the hole after a drive down the middle, the hole measures 538 yards. With a 4-iron in hand, Wilson knocked his approach onto the back of the green, 25 feet from the cup. With a gallery on hand, Wilson knocked home the putt and calmly tapped his brim in appreciation of the claps and cheers.

Young Gun Makes Turn

-Billy Condon

Cameron Wilson, the 17-year-old who will soon be a freshman at Stanford, just made the turn with his playing partner and PGA Tour veteran Len Mattiace. Both players came off the ninth hole with pars and both made the turn at even par for the round. Not one to be intimidated by PGA pros, Wilson teamed up with Camillo Villegas at the Deutsche
Bank Championship Pro-Am where the team won the event.

Young Gets Chance

-Billy Condon

David Young, the golf professional at Sleepy Hollow Country Club and the first alternate on site, is now in the field at Canoe Brook. Young took the place of PGA Tour player Kevin Stadler, and now has an opportunity to advance to the U.S. Open.

Also of note, PGA Tour player Parker McLachlin, who won the 2008 Legends Renoe-Tahoe Open and who is competing today, attended the same high school in Hawaii as President Obama and Michelle Wie. McLachlin's father coached President Obama's high school basketball team.

It's on at Canoe Brook

-Billy Condon

The quest for the four available U.S. Open slots has started at Canoe Brook Country Club in Summit, N.J., with 62 hopeful professionals and amateurs. Past MGA winners Cameron Wilson and Andrew Giuliani have already teed off. Wilson, the 2009 MGA player of the Year is playing with PGA Tour pro Len Mattiace. On their first hole, Wilson unloaded one of his long drives, but the lefty pulled it into the right rough. Mattiace wasn't as long, but ended up safely in the middle of the fairway.

Today's conditions are favorable with a slight wind and hard, fast putting surfaces. The wide fairways and large greens of Canoe Brook should play to the players advantage, but with a field full of talent, these competitors will need rely on attacking the flagstick and scoring birdies for their shot at Pebble Beach in two weeks.