PHOENIX, MD (Aug. 16, 2011) -- Will Shriver, away from major competitive golf since 2008, marked his return by edging defending champion Chris Baloga on the third hole of their sudden-death playoff for the championship of the 25th annual Maryland State Mid-Amateur at Towson Golf & Country Club, August 16.
Following a tie at 141 for 36 holes, the two played off on holes No. 1-2-7. They parred the first two -- Baloga getting up and down from behind the second green with a chip and a four-foot putt -- and at the 465-yard seventh, Baloga was just short of the green in two and Shriver was on the back edge in two. The defender chipped down to seven feet, Shriver left his first putt close, and when Baloga, normally a sure-shot putter from inside 8-10 feet, missed and Shriver holed, it was over.
The day's mild weather, sunny and breezy, was in sharp contrast to some rain, heavy overcast, and a soaking wet course for the first round. Both rounds were played at 6,767 yards, with a par of 35-36--71. No 7, usually a par-5 (485 yards from the Blue markers), became a par-4.
Baloga, from Hillendale Country Club, a co-first-round leader with Ray Sheedy at 70, played well but could not make anything happen the way he often did in previous events. His only deviations from par were a birdie at the first hole and a bogey at the 11th. He finished 70-71. It was his second playoff loss in three days, as he had faced a similar outcome in the Washington County Open August 14.
Sheedy, from Clustered Spires Golf Club in Frederick, "My evil side showed up," as there was a triple bogey at the seventh en route to an out-going 40 and an eventual 78-148.
Although Shriver, 26 and from Green Spring Valley Hunt Club, in his first MSGA event since winning trhe 2003 Amateur in 36 holes over John Moheyer at Old South CC, birdied the 17th hole to create the tie, he decared his play on the 511-yard, par-5 15th was the key. "I hit my tee shot out of bounds, then recovered but still had to make a downhill 6-foot putt to save bogey." At the 367-yard 17th, "I hit my best wedge shot to "kick-in" range. Overall, I played well both days [72-69]."
Since his last major competition -- the 2008 PGA Tour Qualifying School, Shriver has been more concerned with working and charity activity. "I played in some club events, but nothing at this level. In the spring, though, I got the itch and have been a little more active since then."
The two were followed by Brad Foxwell, from Pine Ridge GC, who ended 71-71--142, but not without a tale of woe. He was 3 under par and in the lead through eight holes; Two birdies and three bogeys later, he was 2-under through 16 holes and still in front. Tree trouble led to a bogey at the 17th and at the 18th, "I charged a putt, knocked it six feet past and missed coming back."
There was a three-way tie for fourth at 143 with all the players dipping under par for the round --Phil Fairbanks, Hobbit's Glen GC (76-67); Timothy Connor, U. of Maryland GC (74-68), and Brett Williams, a 2011 MSGA Amateur finalist from Baltimore CC (35-35--70). Fairbanks shot 31 on the front side, then needed to convert a difficult up-and-down at the 18th to save par and put himself in the lead at that point. Connor was 3 under for the round before bogeying the 16th, and Williams highlighted his tour with an eagle-3 at the 523-yard 12th, where he hit driver, 5-iron to 10 feet.
Two-time (2009 and 2010) Maryland Senior Open champion John Howson, Pine Ridge GC, had the only other sub-par round of the day, finishing tied for seventh with 75-70--145. The four 146's included Paul Van Zutphen, Little Bennett GC, had a back-nine 31 with five birdies.
From a first-round cut at 77, 46 players were on hand for the second round. The 2011 edition will be played at Blue Mash Monday - Tuesday, August 13 - 14.
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