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Ballo repeats at Met G.A.'s Ike Championship

White Plains, N.Y. (June 29, 2010) – Last year, Mike Ballo Jr. of Woodway shot an electric 30 on his back nine at Nassau Country Club to come from behind and win his first MGA championship. This year, Ballo was in the driver’s seat and accomplished the feat again, firing a back-nine 32 at Metropolis Country Club to claim a three-stroke victory at the 55th Ike Championship presented by Canon Business Solutions. Ballo’s final-round 68 equaled the best round of the two-day championship and gave him a final 54-hole total of five-under 208.     Ballo, who came into this week with a mentality of putting the pressure of defending the championship out of his mind, was able to stay cool as the rest of the field fell back from his pace. He began the final day of play tied with three other players: 2008 MGA Player of the Year Joe Saladino of Huntington, 25- year-old Russell Giglio of Orange County, and Junior College Division III national champion Chris Ferraro of Twaalfskill. However, after 36 holes, it was 2010 NJSGA Amateur champ Brian Komline of High Bridge Hills who had moved up into second place after a 69 and into the final pairing with Ballo.      During the final round, multiple players threatened and came within a shot of the lead. These include Robert Cerabone of Smithtown Landing, who at one point was 3-under during his final round to get to 1- under for the championship, but eventually faded off the pace and ultimately finished t-10. Another player who came close early on in Tuesday’s afternoon round was 2009 MGA Player of the Year Cameron Wilson of Shorehaven, who at one point flirted with even-par for the championship after a birdie on eleven, but struggled in the home stretch and finished at two-over for the championship, and in third place.      The stage was set for Ballo and Komline, who staged a back-nine duel, trading birdies and big putts in a showdown as the afternoon wore on. It was MGA golf entertainment at its finest, and Ballo recognized it. “When I birdied 17, I thought ‘wow, I can finally breathe,’ but Brian hit it in to make birdie and I didn’t feel comfortable until I made that final putt on the 18th hole.”       Ballo arrived at the 18th tee holding a one-stroke lead. After he hit his approach shot to the green from the left rough, Ballo watched as Komline, who was also in the left rough, attempted to hit his approach over a large tree. His ball clipped a branch and Komline and struggled to a double bogey. Ballo two-putted for par and soaked in the applause of the gallery.      Ballo and Komline were both aware that their round had turned into a back and forth match. “He [Komline] was really playing well and we were feeding off of eachother. We had great camaraderie going and it’s nice to be playing in the Ike Championship and have your playing partner cheering for you.”      Although Ballo held the lead or a share of the lead for the majority of the final day of the championship, things really started clicking for the 21-year-old St. John’s University graduate on the 11th hole of the final round. The 11th, which played as the easiest hole this week with a scoring average of 4.88, was dominated by Ballo Tuesday afternoon. Ballo hit a hybrid from 250 yards to two feet and made the eagle putt to move from even par to two under for a share of the lead, and followed that up with a birdie on twelve. Ballo added two more birdies on 16 and 17 and all he needed was a two-putt on 18 for the victory.           Komline, who was on the doorstep for his second victory of the season played seventeen solid holes before the wheels fell off on the final hole. Reflecting on the scenario he was faced with entering the final hole, Komline said: “I’m one down with one to go and I hit a real nice drive on 18, and it rolled through the fairway and caught a bad lie and that’s the end of the story. I had 170 yards in and I had to try and make the shot because I knew I had to make birdie to send it to extra holes.”      Ballo wasn’t the only victor at Metropolis, as brothers Stephen and Chris Scialo of Dellwood took home the Ike Team Championship, becoming the third pair of brothers to win the team division of the MGA’s amateur stroke play event. Ballo becomes the first player to successfully defend his championship since Ken Macdonald, who accomplished the feat in 1999 and 200o at Hollywood and Nassau.      The 56th installment of the championship will be played at Somerset Hills Country Club in Bernardsville, N.J.   55th Ike Championship presented by Canon Business Solutions Metropolis CC, White Plains, N.Y.   Par: 35-36 = 71 Yardage: 3,297-3,487 = 6,784

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View results for Metropolitan Golf Association IKE Golf Championship "The Ike"

ABOUT THE The "Ike"

The Ike tournament was founded in 1953 by Daily News sportswriter Dana Mozley and nurtured through the years by Mozley and former MGA President George Sands. Although always immensely popular, the event suffered during the late 1970s and early ‘80s after The Daily News dropped its sponsorship. In 1986, the MGA (with the financial support of MetLife) purchased the rights to the Ike. With the MGA’s involvement, the event regained its stature and quickly became the area’s premier stroke-play amateur event. The Ike today attracts more entries than any other MGA championship for individuals. The Ike is Open to male golfers who are members of an MGA member club. (courtesy Metropolitan G.A.)

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