The slick greens on the North course at Philmont Country Club had players shaking their heads after they finished their U.S. Open local qualifying round yesterday, but Adam Cohan used a strategic approach that left him smiling.
Cohan, who just completed his redshirt sophomore season at Georgia Tech, fired an even-par 70 that tied him with northern New Jersey high schooler Paul Park for medalist honors.
None of the 82 contestants broke par over the 6,665-yard course with its fast, undulating greens. A score of 72 resulted in a three-way playoff for the final two of the five qualifying spots available.
"The course always has been a little bit tricky," said Cohan, the 2002 PIAA state champion who lives in Wayne and graduated from Radnor High School. "It's pretty short but you've got to watch out and not play too aggressively. I didn't try to overpower the short holes. You don't want to be on the high side of the hole."
Cohan overcame a double bogey on the second hole with the help of five birdies, four of them on the front nine. Faced with a 16-foot birdie try on the 18th, where a two-putt would give him the day's only subpar round, he three-putted.
It was a gratifying round for Cohan, who suffered a sprained left ankle in a pickup basketball game four weeks ago and had to sit out the Atlantic Coast Conference championships. He said yesterday was his sixth round since his injury.
Park, 18, a senior at Wayne Valley High School in Wayne, N.J., went from a possible playoff to co-medalist with birdie putts of 10 feet on his 17th hole and 8 feet on his 18th. He adjusted to the quick putting surfaces with remarkable ease, since it was only the second time he had seen Philmont, the first time being a week ago.
"It's really, really nice," he said of the course. "I'm used to greens rolling five or six [on the Stimpmeter] and these greens are amazing. The ball goes where you want it to go."
Billy Stewart, a St. Joseph's graduate who turned pro last February and is working at the Breakers in Palm Beach, Fla., carded a 71.
Dustin McCormick, a teaching pro at Water Gap Country Club in the Poconos, and Brinson Paolini of Virginia Beach, Va., shot 72 and prevailed in a three-way playoff.
Bill Kennedy, a teaching pro at Umbria Driving Range in Manayunk, aced the 165-yard third hole with a 6-iron. He finished with a 75.
Adam Cohan, Wayne, Pa.. . . 33-37–70
Paul Park, Wayne, N.J.. . . 35-35–70
Billy Stewart, W. Palm Beach, Fla.. . . 33-38–71
x-Dustin McCormick, E. Stroudsburg. . . 35-37–72
x-Brinson Paolini, Virginia Beach, Va.. . . 35-37–72
Mark Sheftic, Ambler. . . 33-39–72
x-Brian Rothaus, Huntingdon Valley. . . 37-36–73