PHOENIX, AZ (March 13, 2006) -- Ken Kellaney of Phoenix birdied the first playoff hole to defeat Tucson’s Jeremy Defalco and pick up his second Arizona Public Links Championship and 12th career AGA major at Papago Golf Course shooting even par 72 on the day and for the tournament. Last year, was the first since 2001 that Kellaney did not earn a major championship victory. He previously won the Public Links Championship in 2001 when it was played at Aguila Golf Course.
Kellaney started the day trailing Chad Hossack of Gilbert, by three shots, with DeFalco. one behind Kellaney. Paired together in the final group, they reached the 18th tee with Hossack enjoying a one-shot lead and a victory within reach. A disastrous four-putt double bogey from 25 feet, dashed the former Army Specialist’s hopes of a win as he missed the playoff.
Both Kellaney and Defalco had birdie chances to win outright, but ended up settling for par. Hossack, who captured the 2000 Arizona Stroke Play Championship and recently returned from active duty in the military due to a foot injury, finished tied for third with Tomek Dogil of Mesa who shot a three-under 69 and was one-over 216 for the tournament.
Morgan Brown, of Tucson, had the low round of the day posting a four-under 68 and finished alone in fifth place at two-over 218. Robin McCool of Bethlehem, Penn, the 2004 Arizona Public Links Champion was six-over for the tournament and finished alone in sixth place.
“I feel real bad for Chad, he is obviously disappointed,” Kellaney said. “He played well enough to win and had a little trouble on the last hole. He is young enough and will bounce back. It could have gone either way.”
One of the most dominant amateur golfers in the state, Kellaney picks up his 12th career AGA major title, which automatically makes him eligible to earn his 10th AGA Player of the Year title.
“At my age, being 50 in May is pretty gratifying to be playing against guys in their 30-‘s and that is the real accomplishment for me,” he said. “Everyone knows the majors are the keys and you try to do your best all the time. This weekend was very challenging because of the weather. Today was the best day of them all, but I just tried to hang in there, play one shot at a time and do the best that I could.”
In the playoff, Kellaney took advantage of the a bad club selection that had led to a bogey to start his round on the 552-yard par 5 first hole. Selecting a three iron he knocked his second shot from 215 yards onto the green within 15 feet of the hole. Delfalco. who’s approach shot was just off the fringe and some 45 feet from the flagstick, left his putt well short as it settled just inside of Kellaney’s ball.
With the advantage clearly favoring Kellaney, he successfully two-putted for the birdie and the victory.
For the 33-year-old Defalco, the second place finish was his best in an AGA major following a tie for sixth at the 2005 Arizona Mid-Amateur Championship. Although he started the day with three bogeys through the first six holes, he was able to turn it around with a birdie on the ninth hole and then three consecutive birdies on 14, 15 and 16 that put him right back in to the mix.
“It’s good any time you finish up there,” he said “The way that I was hitting it wasn’t pretty the first two days on the front side. It was embarrassing. Today I did real good on the back nine and made more than I missed on the front side, which is what killed me.”
Putting the weekend into perspective, the surgical supply salesman was pleased with his performance and respectful of the abilities displayed by the victor.
“I was just trying to grab some of those points to get in the other events,” he said. “It’s nice to be in a position to go for that title and have a chance. I’ve been informed that it isn’t easy to beat Ken, so I guess I join a long list.” Kellaney is off to a good start this year, having captured the East Valley Short Course, defeating Bryan Hoops and Philip Francis in a playoff.
"I feel good about my game," Kellaney said. "I have been working on some things and you never know how they are until you get into competition."
For complete results, click on the tournament link above (amateurgolf.com Premium Membership requested).