EXETER - On a soft, slow course that proved as unforgiving as it was tough to navigate, more than a few teams suffered some anguish trying to make the championship flight of the John A. Allan Memorial Golf Tournament.
But Fox Hill Country Club didn’t just batter hearts.
Former Wyoming Area standout Zack Mulhern suffered a broken wrist while golfing with his grandfather Friday, perhaps the biggest casualty of an opening day that was rough on some the area’s most promising golfers.
“It was actually on number six,” said Mulhern, who will begin classes at Temple University in the fall and join good friend and Owls standout golfer Brandon Matthews. “I hit a tree root when I went for the green. I fractured my ulna.”
Other dreams shattered just as quickly.
District 2 Class 2A champion Mariano Medico, teaming with his brother Larry Medico Jr. for the first time, barely missed the cut for the championship flight while shooting a 1-over 71. Mariano Medico, a senior-to-be at Holy Redeemer, led the Royals to a runner-up state finish last season and wound up falling just short of the Allan championship last summer while teaming with his father, Larry Sr.
“We just didn’t make any putts out there,” Mariano Medico said. “That’s the big thing that was hard today for my brother, we couldn’t get the ball on a line. On the first nine, we couldn’t roll anything in. The back nine, same thing. You’ve got to make putts to have a chance on a course like this.”
The course was made more difficult by some odd pin setups, along with Thursday night’s hard rains that caused flash flooding in some areas of the Wyoming Valley. The Fox Hill course took the downpours well - only a few puddles dotted the edges of some fairways an hour before Friday’s 7 a.m. tee-off - but the greens turned soft and slow.
“The greens were just really tough to putt on,” said Larry Medico Jr., who once golfed for the old Bishop Hoban High School before it merged into Holy Redeemer. “They were really bumpy, really slow. But we had a good time. It was the first time we got to play together.”
The guy who guided both Medico brothers fared a little better. Holy Redeemer coach Art Brunn Jr. made it to today’s championship flight while teaming with Walter Kuharchik. So did defending champ Matthews - fresh off just missing the cut to play in the U.S. Open - while teaming with Rich Laneski.
Dr. Paul Keating and Matt Teesdale, the tandem playing in a group with the Medicos, raced to an early tournament lead by shooting 5-under 65.
So instead of trying to chase down Matthews on the final hole this year, Medico will hope to see his Holy Redeemer teammate Chase Makowski in flight play through the rest of the tournament while warming up for the Pennsylvania Junior Championships on Monday and Tuesday at the Hershey Country Club.
“I love to play in this every year,” said Mariano Medico, who won both team and individual titles at Fox Hill last year. “It’s my home course - it’s like home to me.”
At least he still has a chance to get in a few more swings.
Mulhern doesn’t, after losing a battle with a tree.
Pairing up with his grandfather Tom Capone, Mulhern tried to hit out of what he believed was a clump of grass, not realizing the growth was covering the root of a tree.
“The ball looked buried to me,” said Mulhern, who qualified for the Eastern Regionals as a senior at Wyoming Area last season and just missed the state championship cut in a playoff. “I’ve actually been playing really, really well. I was trying to make the championship flight. I went down kind of hard (with the swing), my club was just stuck.”
He felt the pain in his wrist immediately, but somehow finished out the remaining 12 holes.
“After that, it was one-handed follow-throughs,” said Mulhern, whose team wasn’t that far off the championship flight cut with a 6-over. “I knew something was wrong.”
Credit his father for the soft cast now extending from his hand to his upper forearm.
“I finished the round, grabbed a bite to eat and my dad kind of forced me in the car and took me to get an X-ray,” Mulhern said. “If it wasn’t for him, I was going to play (today). But my health is more important.”
Instead, he’ll spend the rest of the weekend serving as caddy for his grandfather.
“Me and him were both concerned about my wrist,” Mulhern said. “I played with my grandpa, it’s more about the fun I have with him. I’ll be up all weekend. Even though I don’t get to participate, I love it.”