Playing for an automatic bid to the 2012 Masters, rising sophomore Max Marsico put up a valiant effort but ultimately came up short.
On June 27, Marsico teed off on his first day of the 2011 U.S. Amateur Public Links (APL) Championships at the Bandon Dunes Golf Resort in Bandon, Oregon, going up against some of the best amateur golfers in the nation. Despite the stiff competition, Marsico played a very impressive first round of stroke play, hitting one over, which left him tied for third place.
His strong play continued in the next round of stroke play but it was in match play that his run at a championship came to an abrupt halt.
“It’s further than I’ve gotten in the US Amateurs two years ago,” Marsico said. “But I felt like I was playing well enough to go even further.”
The APL Championships consisted of two different formats of play —stroke play and match play — running from June 27 to July 2. Stroke play — the better known of the two — is when every shot is counted and tallied up and the player with the lowest score wins. Match play, however, is essentially a competition played by holes — rather than total strokes — where two players compete against each other to “win” each hole. The player who scores lower on a hole receives a point and ultimately, the player with the most points at the end of the round wins the match.
After two rounds of stroke play, Marsico found himself tied for sixth, qualifying him for match play, which began on June 29. He won his first match rather handily — two holes up with one left to play, commonly written as 2&1 — and advanced to the round of 32. Here, he immediately found himself two holes down, an unenviable position. Nevertheless, the Las Vegas native was able to fight back and take a lead until his opponent, recent Penn State graduate T.J. Howe, made a comeback of his own to force a playoff hole which he won, leading to an early exit for Marsico.
“I was very happy with how I played in stroke play,” Marsico said. “I played well in my first match and well in my second match but didn’t have the same result. I was happy but it was bittersweet.”
Despite the disappointing ending, Penn men’s golf coach Scott Allen believes this was a very good experience for the young Quaker.
“Max is a terrific player, so I’m glad he got a chance to play well and go deep into the tournament,” Allen said. “I’m sure Max was hoping to get a little bit further in the field, but he definitely had a strong showing and I’m very proud of him.”
It appears that Marsico agrees with his coach.
“That happens sometimes in this tournament,” he said of his loss. “But getting the opportunity to play a different format was a lot of fun.”
While there is much to learn and take in from the wins and losses of the tournament, it’s clear that the rising sophomore is making sure to enjoy every part of it, even just the opportunity to play a new course.
“I really enjoyed the course and the facilities,” Marsico said. “It was a totally different kind of golf, which is fun for me as a golfer because you don’t get that everyday.”