PIKESVILLE, Md. (June 8, 2008)--For the second day in a row, sub-par golf on the back nine at Woodholme Country Club was enough to get the job done for Michael Mulieri. Never behind in the final 27 holes, he wrapped up the 87th Amateur Championship of the Maryland State Golf Association with a 4 & 2 victory over Steven Delmar Jr. The scheduled 36-hole final was played in stifling mid-90's weather with a heat index over 100.
Mulieri, 21, a Loyola College senior who plays from TPC Avenel, had seen the last of a three-up lead disappear when he went to the ninth tee in the afternoon. Taking a firm grip on the situation, the 5-foot-8, 140-pounder, who averages 300 yards off the tee - power matched by the stocky Delmar - produced winning birdies at 9-10-11 and was not threatened the rest of the way.
The run included a 20-foot putt at the ninth -- the first putt of more than five feet either had made all day -- after Delmar produced a superb chip to three feet. At the 325-yard 10th, it was a drive wide left of the green and a pitch to four feet. Each player was on the green in regulation at the par-5 11th, but Delmar missed from 20 feet and Mulieri ran in a 10-footer.
As important as those three birdies were in the scheme of things, they probably should move over to give Mulieri's effort at the 12th a bit of the spotlight. While Delmar was hitting fairway and green and making a two-putt par, Mulieri missed the fairway left at the massive 490-yard test played as a par 4 (nevertheless, the players hit 7 and 8 irons to the green) struck his approach shot to the left side of the green, then watched his 30-foot putt run almost seven feet by the cup. He calmly knocked in that comebacker to get his half and preserve the margin.
For the day, he played the back nine one under par in the morning and three under in the afternoon.
"The greens seemed even quicker today and it was tough to be aggressive, especially on the downhillers and sliders," said Mulieri, who admitted to being slow out of the gate again.
Delmar, 20, a Coastal Carolina sophomore who lives in Laytonsville and plays from Montgomery CC, took advantage to forge an early 3-up lead after four holes, but could not sustain it. Mulieri won the next four - three with pars and one at eight where he hit a 90-foot bunker shot that rolled to within four feet and was converted into a birdie. Delmar got his final win at the ninth to turn even.
"My putting was great yesterday (quarters and semis), but I couldn't seem to do it today. It's what got me here so I can't complain," Delmar said.
He made it into the draw via a 13-for-7 playoff Thursday, and was No. 32 when they sorted themselves out. He is believed to be the first No. 32 seed to make it to the final of this event.
The maintenance staff, headed by superintendent Steve Potter, drew raves from the players, as the weatherman was not cooperative. There was a heavy wind and rainstorm Wednesday that brought down limbs, but the well-groomed 6,900-yard layout was ready for play at 7 A.M. Thursday, and for the last two days, the course withstood brutal heat and humidity to provide a spectacular venue for the Maryland Amateur.
The 88th Maryland Amateur will be contested at Chevy Chase Club on June 4 - 7, 2008.
--Reported by John Stewart from Woodholme Country Club
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