Golembiewski and Quinn advance to quarterfinals
Two of the three remaining medalists—Chandler’s Jake Golembiewski and Anthem’s Gary Quinn—advanced to the quarterfinals in the 86th Arizona Amateur Championship at Pinnacle Peak Country Club. Thursday’s match up included four matches that went into extra holes in the round of 32, and one in the round of 16.
Golembiewski defeated Blake Brown (33) of Scottsdale 3 & 1 in the round of 32 and Tim Duffey (17) of Anthem 8 & 7 in the round of 16. “My match against Blake was really difficult,” he recalled. “I made eight birdies and only managed to win 3 & 1, so it was definitely a back and forth match.”
Golembiewski played good friends in both matches today. “It’s definitely difficult playing your friends, but the goal is to move on,” said Golembiewski. “Tim didn’t have his A-game today and I played solid, which had a snowball effect. Tim’s a great player. Any other day and I don’t think it would’ve been such a quick match.”
Tomorrow Golembiewski plays Yuma’s Bentley Nakasawa (9), who just graduated from Grand Canyon University. “I haven’t played with Jake in about five years,” said Nakasawa. The two used to play together in junior golf. “Jake has been playing good and I’ve barely gotten through the last two matches. He’ll be well-rested after his short match and I played a full 38 holes today. I’m excited, but more tired than anything.”
Quinn started off the morning defeating Ben Crebbs (34) of Oro Valley 5 & 3. “I hit the ball a lot better today than I did yesterday,” said Quinn. “I only missed three greens all day.” Thursday afternoon he won against Trey Herring 5 & 4. “Between both rounds today I made 11 birdies of the 29 holes I played,” he said. “In both matches I went up early and was five up at the turn. Getting up early gave me a lot of momentum and I tried to keep the pressure on my competition. I tried not to let them get back in the match and gain any ground on me.”
Friday, Quinn, who plays for Ohio State University, faces Scottsdale’s Nick Losole III (23), who plays for Northwestern University. The two have been playing against each other since they were 12. “Tomorrow I’m looking to come out strong again and hopefully get up early in the match to put pressure on Nick.”
“It’ll be fun, kind of like a match within a match because it’s like two Big 10 schools going head to head,” said Losole.
Quinn added, “Anyone I’m going to face in the final eight is going to be a great player, but knowing Nick will make it even more competitive. I know I’m going to have to play an exceptional round to be able to beat him.”
The third remaining medalist, Surprise’s Kyle Kallan, was ousted by Drew Nottenkamper (30) of Scottsdale who plays for San Jose State. “I lost to a 7 under 65,” said Kallan. “I played solid; I just got beat by the better man today.” Kallan, who is fourth in the AGA performance rankings, plans to continue playing in tournaments with the hopes of earning a place on the Arizona Golf Association’s state team. “I’ll keep practicing hard and doing what I’m doing.”
Seven of the remaining eight are collegiate-age players. Golembiewski will play for Grand Canyon University in the fall, from where Nakasawa just graduated; Sierra Vista’s Neal McCarty (52), the 2009 Arizona Amateur runner-up, plays for Southern Illinois University; Queen Creek’s Chris Shoop (5) plays for University of Colorado at Colorado Springs; and, Scottsdale’s Jason Shano (19) plays for the University of San Diego.
At 45 years old, the final remaining player, Scottsdale’s Jim Russo (6), has been out of the tournament competition for a while. Besides playing in tournaments at his home club Tatum Ranch where he’s a frequent club champion, his last national level tournament was the 2000 US Mid Amateur. He also played at the state level in the 2002 Arizona Amateur, where he lost in the first round of match play.
“I haven’t been back previously due to my confidence in my game,” he noted. He didn’t believe he could play against the youth who tend to dominate the Arizona Amateur. “My friend, Brian Nelson, pushed me to play in the event and helped me re-gain my confidence.”
Russo knows he holds an advantage with his many years of golf experience. “It’s tiring playing against the younger players,” he said. “One of my advantages is that I hit the ball as far as or farther than most of them. I’m not intimidated by their length. I know my game and I play within myself.”
Russo was scheduled to leave Friday for a family vacation. “We booked a family vacation many months ago to see family in Connecticut,” he said. “Not in my wildest dreams did I think I’d have to change them.”