By Pete Chiodo
There is, it is often said, no place like home. And the Meadville High golf team certainly appeared comfy on the familiar links of The Country Club on Thursday, walking away with a 10-stroke team victory in the inaugural Meadville Invitational.
Only eight golfers out of 84 came in with rounds under 80, and Meadville possessed four of those scores while posting a team total of 309. Cathedral Prep was second with 319. Harbor Creek took third with 335, edging fourth-place North East by a stroke.
“I think the whole team played great,” said Meadville senior Mike Bogardus, who shot 77 for the day, finishing in a tie for fourth overall. “I really hope we do this next week for team districts.”
The Country Club will host the District 10 Team Championship tournament on Oct. 6. And while the Bulldogs hope for a repeat of yesterday’s success, head coach Fred Garvey Jr. knows his golfers will still have to show up and compete.
Thursday’s invitational, he said, “is one day. I don’t think we played our best. But I’m sure Prep probably feels the same way. It’s one round. ... Hopefully we can bottle it and save it for a week.”
Medalist for the tournament was Prep’s Andrew Britton, who fired a 2-under par 70.
He also entered the tournament with some experience at the club, having shot a 71 on the course during its Father-Son Tournament in August.
“I was really pleased,” Britton said about yesterday’s round, which included five birdies and two bogeys. “I missed one putt, which made me not shoot a 69. Three-footer. No. 9.
“You know, 69 sounds a lot better than 70. But I’m not complaining.”
Cambridge Springs’ Trevor Rodgers and Meadville’s Zack Ford followed Britton with rounds of 76.
Rodgers was awarded second place after posting a better score on the back nine (35) than Ford (39).
“I played pretty decent,” said Rodgers. “I hit the ball really well. I just couldn’t make anything fall. I think I had, like, 13 greens in regulation. I just couldn’t make anything.”
Rodgers considers The Country Club his home course, so at least he knew how to avoid trouble.
“I play here quite a bit,” said the Blue Devils’ junior. “You’ve got to know where to miss. You’ve got to know where to miss the ball. That’s a clear advantage.”
Ford was even on the front, but then had four bogeys on the back, which gave him the third-place trophy.
“With these wet conditions, I’ll take it,” said the freshman. “I didn’t play as well on the back as I wanted to. But I’ll take a 76 out here. ... I had no birdies. I couldn’t make a putt. I didn’t make many one-putts at all, tap-ins if I did.”
Four golfers followed with scores of 77 — Fort LeBoeuf’s Jordan Latsko, Cathedral Prep’s Ryan Podufal and a pair of Meadville golfers in Bogardus and Will Malady.
Latsko was awarded fourth place after shooting 35 on the back nine. Malady took fifth, shooting 36 on the back.
“I parred 11 holes in a row, actually,” said the senior Malady. “It was just: On in two, two-putt. My short game was great. I had a couple chips and one-putts that saved me two up-and-downs.”
He also credits his familiarity with the course for one of his best performances at The Country Club.
“That might have been (a career best),” he said. “That was my best on the back. I was 1-over with 36. I usually play pretty good here. My last score here was a 78. So I’m right in the ballpark. But I’ve been playing here since I was 5, so I know every trick in the book to this course.”
It was also a career day for Bogardus.
“That’s the best I’ve played here,” he said. “I had three birdies, all on the front. And they just happened to come after all my bogeys. I’d go bogey, birdie, par; bogey, birdie, par. It happens. That’s just how golf goes.”
Bogardus still fell short of one personal goal, however.
“I had to beat Will by three strokes to go to the Tam O’Shanter (Invitational) next week,” said Bogardus. “We tied, so he gets it. But I loved the challenge. That’s what me and Will have done all year; we’ve been playing back and forth for spots.”
Charlie Holt rounded out Meadville’s day with a 79, giving the Bulldogs four sub-80 games for the scoresheet.
Cambridge Springs finished in fifth place with 339 points. After Rodgers’ 76, Marcus Palmero added an 86, Mike Healy scored an 88 and Josh Waid fired an 89.
Titusville, led by Matt McCord’s 80, finished in seventh in the team standings with 345 strokes.
Saegertown was 13th with a team total of 366. Josh Gionti shot low for the Panthers with a round of 87.