14th R. Jay Sigel Match Play Championship
Drexel's Fricke and Cook Pace Field in Sigel Qualifying
CLARKS SUMMIT, Pa. - A pair of Drexel Dragons caught fire on a breezy day at the Country Club of Scranton, as college teammates Aaron Fricke and Michael Cook were two of the four players under par in the 36-hole qualifying rounds today for the 14th R. Jay Sigel Match Play Championship, presented by LECOM. Fricke, of Lancaster Country Club, shot rounds of 71 and 70 for a total of 141 (-3). Cook, of Applebrook Country Club, had a pair of steady rounds of 1-under par 71 to leave him one shot behind Fricke.
"I've been playing really well lately, so I definitely had high expectations of myself," Fricke said.
Fricke got off to a good start with a birdie on his opening hole of the tournament, the par-4 first hole. From there, he rallied to birdie No. 9 after a stretch of three bogeys in four holes. That kicked off a stretch of 16 holes at par or better, including a pair of birdies on his morning back nine to finish the opening round at 71. Fricke began play in the second round on that same back nine, and the nice run continued, with early birdies at No. 12 and No. 14, each par 5s.
"I got on both of those par 5s on the back nine in two, and was able to two-putt for birdie on each one," Fricke said.
Despite a pair of bogeys on No. 16 and No. 17, Fricke stayed in red numbers for the championship and birdied No. 18 to make the turn with momentum on his side. Two more birdies, on No. 2 and No. 8, sandwiched a bogey on the seventh hole, and Fricke then parred No. 9 on his last hole of the day to finish at 3-under for the championship and earn the top seed.
Cook, meanwhile, began on No. 10 for his morning round, and a birdie on No. 12 paved the way for a 1-under 36 on that side. An up and down front nine saw three birdies, three bogeys and three pars for a 35, giving him his first round score of 71. In the afternoon round, Cook made birdie on No. 4 and No. 7 en route to an even par score on the front. Then, much like Fricke, he took advantage of the par 5s, with birdies on No. 12 and No. 14 to shoot another 71 and get in the clubhouse at -2.
Earning the third seed was 2014 event champion Eric Williams of Honesdale Golf Club, who shot -1 for the 36 holes on the day. He was tied with PAGA Individual Member Marty McGuckin, a Temple University standout, who followed up an opening round of 70 with a second round 73 and will be the fourth seed in match play.
There was a three-way tie for the 16th and final spot in match play, as Charles Hess (Allentown Municipal Golf Club), Rick Stimmel (Diamond Run Golf Club) and P.J. Acierno (Lu Lu Country Club) all finished at 150 (+6). The playoff began at No. 1, where Stimmel and Acierno made pars to advance. They then moved to the 215-yard, par 3 17th hole. Again, Stimmel and Acierno knocked in par putts. They then moved to the 18th hole, a 560-yard par 5. There, Acierno survived with a bogey and advanced to the match play portion of the championship, where he will face the medalist, Fricke.
Here are the matchups for the Round of 16:
Aaron Fricke (1) vs. P.J. Acierno (16)
The Drexel standout, Fricke, takes on recent LaSalle University star Acierno. Fricke was the second seed in last year's event and lost in the opening round, so he knows not to look ahead.
"It doesn't matter where you finish today, as long as you make match play," Fricke said. "I have to go out tomorrow and start from scratch, and try to do the same thing I did today."
Michael Cook (2) vs. Patrick Mitchell (15)
Both Cook and Mitchell shot 71 in the opening round of qualifying, though Mitchell, of Glenmaura National Golf Club, stumbled to a 78 in the second round.
Eric Williams (3) vs. Steve Cerbara (14)
Williams will be attemping to make the final for the third time, as he won in 2014 but was also runner-up in 2008. He faces Cerbara, who shot 74-75 in qualifying.
Marty McGuckin (4) vs. Sean Knapp (13)
McGuckin will battle two-time finalist Knapp, for the right to advance to the quarterfinals. Knapp shot 76-73 in the qualifying rounds.
Gary McCabe, Jr. (5) vs. John Barone (12)
It's a battle of Temple Owls, as teammates McCabe and Barone will do battle. McCabe followed an opening 76 with a second round 70 to qualify in the fifth spot, while Barone shot 76-73.
Matt Holuta (6) vs. Tom Nettles (11)
Holuta (Indiana Country Club), the defending champion who won last year at St. Davids Golf Club, will take on Nettles (St. Clair Country Club) in a battle of stalwarts from the western side of the state. Holuta shot 146 (+2) while Nettles was one shot back in today's 36 holes of qualifying.
David Brown (7) vs. Todd Vonderheid (10)
Brown, a two-time champion of the event from Champion Lakes Golf Club, will go against Vonderheid, of Huntsville Golf Club. Ironically, Brown's most recent win in this event came in 2012 at Huntsville. Brown finished the qualifying at 146, a shot ahead of Vonderheid.
Nathan Smith (8) vs. Anthony Sebastianelli (9)
There is perhaps no more decorated match play golfer in the state than Pinecrest Country Club's Smith, a four-time winner of the US Mid-Amateur. His success has extended to this event as well, as he has four titles (2009, 2011, 2013, 2015). If it's an odd-numbered year, look out for Smith. First up in his attempt to win a fifth title is Sebastianelli, of Glen Oak Country Club. The two players tied at 146 (+2) in stroke play qualifying.
The first match begins at 7:30 a.m. on Tuesday morning. Quarterfinal matches are slated to be played Tuesday afternoon, with the semifinals and finals taking place on Wednesday.
The Pennsylvania Golf Association would like to thank the staff and membership of the Country Club of Scranton for their support and hospitality during the event.