EGG HARBOR TOWNSHIP, N.J. — Vince Covello loves coming home. The Philadelphia region is where he grew up, the city is what he reps and its surrounding golf courses are where he thrives.
The Web.com Tour stalwart continued his success near home Monday at Hidden Creek Golf Club (par 71, 7,057 yards), firing a 4-under round of 67 to take medalist honors in a U.S. Open Local Qualifier administered by the Golf Association of Philadelphia.
Professional Alexander Hicks of Cape May Court House, N.J., Philadelphia Cricket Club pro Mark Miller of Conshohocken, Pa. and amateur Erik Brubaker of Delmar, Md. grabbed the additional three spots on the line. The day’s cut line for the field of 72 hopefuls stopped at 1 over.
Brubaker punched his ticket to the Sectional round after coming out on top of a 3-for-1 playoff. He two putted for par on the third playoff hole, Hidden Creek’s finisher (par 4, 429 yards), to earn the birth over GAP amateurs Kevin Smith (first alternate) and Daniel Charen (second alternate).
The medalist himself made five birdies on the day. Covello’s first arrived on No. 13 (par 4, 423 yards). A perfect driver off the tee set him up with a 9-iron approach that he snuck within two feet of the cup, leading to a converted 3. Nothing but pars popped up on the card until No. 18, where he hit driver followed by a pitching wedge that resulted in a successful 12-foot birdie attempt. He made the turn at 2 under.
“Bogey-free front nine was key. I had a few other good looks early on, but you’ve got to be happy with that. I knew headed to the back that if I could keep it under par I would be in good shape,” said the 35-year-old Covello, who shared medal honors in last year’s #USOpen Local Qualifier at Country Club of York.
Hidden Creek’s first nine proved to be kind to Covello as well. On No. 3 (par 5, 537 yards), he utilized a driver, 3-iron combination to leave him with a simple two-putt birdie conversation from just off the front of the green. He failed to get up-and-down on No. 4 (par 3, 224 yards), resulting in his only bogey blemish on the day, but Covello would get one back on the next par 3, the 181-yard 7th hole. There he guided a 6-iron into the wind leading to a six-foot birdie. On the final hole of his round, No. 9 (par 5, 581 yards), Covello pushed his tee shot to the right and proceeded to find a fairway bunker with his second. A pitching wedge from 116 yards helped him escape trouble and led to a 15-foot birdie conversion.
“It’s great to play well out here. Putting a score up like this – especially near home – gives you momentum for the rest of the season. On the Web.com Tour, you need to shoot as low as you can, and if you’re playing well, you need to keep it going and sink birdies in order to win,” said Covello, who is in his third season as a Web.com Tour regular.
“I’ve made five of eight cuts and had one Top 10 this season (in The Bahamas Great Abaco Classic at The Abaco Club), so I’m still trying to hit my stride,” he said.
Covello will make his seventh trip to U.S. Open Sectional qualifying. He’ll head back to Woodmont Country Club in Rockville, Md. after missing the cut there by just two strokes last season while falling in a playoff for an alternate position.
But until then, he’ll enjoy his remaining time indulging in Wawa and cheesesteaks while playing a few local GAP tracks.
“I love coming up here every year, to play in the [GAP] U.S. Open Qualifiers. It always seems to work out to be on one of the Web’s off weeks, so I use it as an excuse to see some family, grab a cheesesteak and play some of the great courses I grew up playing at,” said Covello, who will have traversed Llanerch Country Club, Rolling Green Golf Club and The Ace Club before taking off.
Hicks, a former GAP amateur player, turned professional after his senior year at the College of William & Mary. He made his way back up to Cape May two days ago from Florida, where he now spends his winters training and playing mini-tour events.
“I’ve been on the professional grind these past few years, trying to gain good status on the Web.com Tour as well as the Canadian Tour. Everything is pointing in the right direction and I’m seeing steady progress,” said Hicks, 25.
“This is one of the few, if not the only [GAP] events I can play in these days as a pro, so it’s awesome to come back and see some familiar faces,” said Hicks, who fired a 3-under 68 while competing in the same field as his brother, David. “I’m very happy to have made it through to Sectionals.”
Today’s Qualifier at Hidden Creek was the first of four #USOpen Local Qualifiers that will be conducted by the Golf Association of Philadelphia. The three remaining still on the slate are May 10 at DuPont Country Club, May 16 at Country Club of York and May 17 at Glenmaura National Golf Club.
The 118th U.S. Open Championship will be played June 11-17 at Shinnecock Hills Golf Club (Southampton, N.Y.).
Golf Association of Philadelphia
Founded in 1897, the Golf Association of Philadelphia (GAP) is the oldest regional or state golf association in the United States. It serves as the principal ruling body of amateur golf in its region. The Association’s 200 Full Member Clubs and 70,000 individual members are spread across Eastern Pennsylvania and parts of New Jersey and Delaware. As Philadelphia’s Most Trusted Source of Golf Information, the Golf Association of Philadelphia’s mission is to promote, preserve and protect the game of golf.
|Name, city, state||Score|
|Vince Covello, Philadelphia, Pa.||67|
|Alexander Hicks, Cape May Court House, N.J.||68|
|Mark Miller, Conshohocken, Pa.||71|
|*(a) Erik Brubaker, Delmar, Md.||72|
|Alternates (in order)|
|*(a) Kevin Smith, Wallingford, Pa.||72|
|*(a) Daniel Charen, Langhorne, Pa.||72|
|Failed to qualify|
|(a) Andy Butler, Oakmont, Pa.||73|
|(a) Ryan Cass, Lawnside, N.J.||73|
|Francisco Cossio, Brigantine, N.J.||73|
|Lee Detmer, Washington, D.C.||73|
|Greg Matthias, Pennsauken, N.J.||73|
|(a) Troy Vannucci, Marlton, N.J.||73|
|(a) Etienne Brault, Mercier, Quebec, Canada||74|
|Mason Carmel, Great Falls, Va.||74|
|Michael Little, North Wales, Pa.||74|
|Mark Parson, Northfield, N.J.||74|
|(a) Jack Sullivan, Petersburg, N.J.||74|
|(a) Brendan Bacskai, Berwyn, Pa.||75|
|(a) Peter Barron, III, Mays Landing, N.J.||75|
|(a) Brendan Clearkin, Jr., Ambler, Pa.||75|
|Benjamen Schlesman, Douglas, Mass.||75|
|(a) Conrad Von Borsig, Philadelphia, Pa.||75|
|Shea Wolfle, Sewell, N.J.||75|
|(a) Mark Benevento, Ocean City, N.J.||76|
|James Braunsberg, Plymouth Meeting, Pa.||76|
|(a) Brandon Dalinka, New York, N.Y.||76|
|(a) Matthew Gaffney, Sewell, N.J.||76|
|(a) Luca Jezzeny, Furlong, Pa.||76|
|Danny Lewis, Morrow, Ohio||76|
|(a) Andrew Wallace, Narberth, Pa.||76|
|Steve Ashworth, Brookhaven, Pa.||77|
|(a) Michael Cook, Berwyn, Pa.||77|
|(a) David Hicks, Cape May Court House, N.J.||77|
|(a) Zach Arsenault, Medford, N.J.||78|
|(a/r) Daniel Ayars, Millville, N.J.||78|
|Brian Hollins, Medford, N.J.||78|
|(a) Drue Nicholas, Egg Harbor Township, N.J.||78|
|(a) Noah Schwartz, Cherry Hill, N.J.||78|
|(a) Ryan Tall, Collegeville, Pa.||78|
|Kevin Ausserlechner, West Harrison, N.Y.||79|
|Gregory Battschinger, Mays Landing, N.J.||79|
|(a) Adam Carlson, Egg Harbor Township, N.J.||79|
|Andrew Pierson, Camden, N.J.||79|
|(a) Noam Roizman, Blue Bell, Pa.||79|
|Andy Watters, King Of Prussia, Pa.||79|
|(a) Kyle Deisher Philadelphia, Pa.||80|
|(a) Ryan Dick, Collingswood, N.J.||80|
|(a) Tyler McGarry, Pittston, Pa.||80|
|(a) Aaron Fricke, Denver, Pa.||81|
|Christopher Hoyle, Drexel Hill, Pa.||81|
|(a) Joe Russo, Sewell, N.J.||81|
|(a) Andreas Aivazoglou, Glen Mills, Pa.||82|
|(a) Anthony Barr, Harleysville, Pa.||83|
|(a) Eric Dekarski, Boca Raton, Fla.||83|
|(a) Chris Meares, Turnersville, N.J.||83|
|(a) Andrew Curran, Media, Pa.||84|
|(a) Brian Hale, Middle Island, N.Y.||84|
|James Macfarlane, Collingswood, N.J.||84|
|Peter Clarke, Telford, Pa.||85|
|(a) Andy Kerestesy, Vineland, N.J.||85|
|Brian Bakic, Forked River, N.J.||87|
|(a) Paul Bickford, Runnemede, N.J.||87|
|J.P. Laird, Jr., Ocean City, N.J.||87|
|(a) Brandon Hartlage, Somers Point, N.J.||93|
|Luke Bohm, St. John, N.J.||WD|
|(a) Geoffrey Cooper, Erdenheim, Pa.||WD|
|Ken Lowry, Miami, Fla.||WD|
|(a) Brian Moffatt, Andover, N.J.||WD|
|Cavan Birmingham, Voorhees, N.J.||NC|
|(a) Blake Vogdes, Cape May, N.J.||NS|
|(a) Cole Berger, Malvern, Pa.||NS|
|(a)-denotes amateur; (a/r)-amateur awaiting reinstatement|
|NC-no card; NS-no show; WD-withdrawal|
|*determined in playoff|
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