Last updated: May 09. 2014 12:10AM - 2757 Views
By - nwagner@civitasmedia.com

Austin Smith of Dallas plays from the bunker at the 6th green during a US Open quaifying tournament Thursday at Huntsville Golf Club.
Austin Smith of Dallas plays from the bunker at the 6th green during a US Open quaifying tournament Thursday at Huntsville Golf Club.
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SHAVERTOWN — It was a shootout, of sorts.

Not only did Thursday’s qualifying round for the U.S. Open at Huntsville Country Club take 72 golfers to their max, 18 holes just wasn’t good enough.

David Sheman, a former Canadian Tour professional, shot an even-par 72 to take medalist honors and was one of four golfers to advance to sectionals later this month. Andrew Mason, a professional player from Huntingdon Valley fired a 73, advancing him to the next round.

But after that, it was anybody’s guess. The final two guaranteed spots came down to a three-way playoff. The last alternate spot, of two, also came down to a playoff. This local qualifier took four guaranteed spots and two alternates.

Two locals managed to get themselves in a four-way playoff for the final alternate spot. Greg Pieczynski of Kingston, who is now a club professional at Weston Golf Club outside of Boston, and Chase Makowski, a Holy Redeemer senior from Dallas, each fired a 75 to get into the playoff.

The first hole at Huntsville is an uphill 518-yard par-5, and it served as the playoff hole. Pieczynski hit a drive right down the middle, while Makowski found the bunker. Both players managed to make par on the hole, but Matthew Baker from Venice, Florida, won the playoff with a birdie after reaching the green in two.

Makowski solidly made his way around the 7,200-yard long par-72 Huntsville. After shooting a tidy 39 on the front side, Makowski made his way around the back with an even-par 36. Tee to green, he was fine. He left a few putts out there, though.

The high school senior made a 50-foot birdie on 16 before surrendering that back with a three-putt bogey on 17. He parred 18 to finish his round.

“I was hitting a lot of greens today,” he said. “I just couldn’t get anything to fall for me.”

Makowski appreciated the playing conditions, saying, “It was a gift today.”

“I feel like it could have played a lot harder if the wind was howling like it usually is.”

This was Makowski’s first competitive round of the season, and his first Open qualifier. He was happy with a 75.

Pieczynski was in a good position to come into the clubhouse at 2-over until he hit No. 17. The par-3 was playing 180 yards and the former Penn State player hit an 8-iron to about 30 feet. He almost made the first putt and left himself about 2 feet for par. He missed it.

“I felt like I could have definitely shot lower,” he said. “The course conditions were perfect and I putted well all day. I made that one really big mistake on 17 and that took me (out of the top 4).”

Pieczynski has played in multiple U.S. Open qualifiers. He’s played in two held at Huntsville and advanced out of both. In the previous qualifier at Huntsville, Pieczynski shot 72.

“The conditions seem to be the same,” he said. “I thought maybe the scores would be lower but that’s how it goes.”

Eric Williams of Honesdale, along Sean Szerencsits of Coplay and Zachary Herr of New Hope, went into a sudden death playoff after shooting 74, for the final two spots, and one alternate spot. Szerencsits and Herr came out as the winners advancing, while Williams is the first alternate.

Other local players in the field include: Mariano Medico, Dallas, 76; Austin Smith, Dallas, 76; Michael Molino, Shavertown, 78; Bill Dombroski, Mountain Top, 82; Chris Banyas, Berwick 95; A.J. Donatoni, Wilkes-Barre, 86; John Dougherty, Dallas, 81; Bill Smith, Hazleton, 86; Tom Cicini, Berwick, 86; Andrew Golden, Dupont, 95.

Huntsville was one of 111 local qualifying sites in the U.S. Players advancing out of local qualifying will take part in sectionals June 2. The U.S. Open will be played June 12-15 at Pinehurst No. 2 in Pinehurst, North Carolina.

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