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First-time club champion, hole-in-one highlight Labor Day at Rolling Road Golf Club

Catonsville resident Andrew Sovero, 25. won the men's club championship for the first time at the Rolling Road Golf Club on Labor Day. His father, Rick, has won the club title 10 times.
Catonsville resident Andrew Sovero, 25. won the men's club championship for the first time at the Rolling Road Golf Club on Labor Day. His father, Rick, has won the club title 10 times. (Photo courtesy of Rick Sovero)

Labor Day was a family affair at the Rolling Road Golf Club for Catonsville residents Matt Spence and Andrew Sovero, who each provided unforgettable magic moments on championship day.

Sovero, 25, won his first Men’s Championship Flight, with his dad, Rick, watching every shot.

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Rick Sovero, the Rolling Road club president, has won the tournament 10 times.

The younger Sovero, 25, defeated Kevin Grady, a three-time Rolling Road champion, 4 & 2 in the match play 36-hole format.

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Matt Spence, 38, won the 4th Flight over Ethan Edwards, 6 and 5, and while doing it he made a hole-in-one on the fourth hole.

He jarred it on the 181-yard par three, while leading his match 1-up before the hole.

“It was neat, my wife and kids were watching,” said Spence, who found out at the same time as wife Amy, and sons Vincent, 10, and Connor, 4. “This is my third hole-in-one, but to do it in competition and to do it with them watching was pretty surreal.”

Matt Spence, second from right, poses with wife Amy and sons Vincent, left, and Connor, right. He celebrated Labor Day with a hole-and-one and win in Flight 4 on championship Monday.
Matt Spence, second from right, poses with wife Amy and sons Vincent, left, and Connor, right. He celebrated Labor Day with a hole-and-one and win in Flight 4 on championship Monday. (Photo courtesy of Matt Spence)

He also made aces on the course in 2011 on the 10th hole and in 2008 on the 15th hole.

Spence didn’t see the 2020 ace go in the hole, but admired it from the tee box.

“It was a 181-yard shot and it was a back pin and it was just a perfect 6-iron with a little draw,” said Spence, who originally planned to hit a 5-iron, but was concerned he might go past the pin, situated about four yards from the back of the green.

Spence, who didn’t have a caddy, walked up the hill with Edwards and his caddy and there was a positive vibe coming from the trio.

“We all just had one of those moments where you knew it had a chance,” Spence said. “I kind of went and looked in the hole and there it was.”

When asked if he’s ever won a flight championship, he responded," I didn’t think so, but somebody told me I beat them in a flight championship like 10 or 12 years ago."

He gave up competitive golf in 2013 and took up mountain bike racing.

“When I was playing a lot, it was always my goal to try and qualify for the championship play, but now that I’m playing less and I’m a little more of a hack, I have to be somewhat competitive in my own flight,” he said.

In 2018, he began that quest with the help of his oldest son.

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“Business had gotten pretty busy, so I wasn’t out mountain bike racing and I just needed some competitive outlet and my son was eight and he started showing a little interest in the game and we just started playing and I fell right back into it,” Spence said. “We played in the father-son tournament this year. It’s one of those cool traditions. I grew up playing in that tournament with my dad (Vincent) so it’s really cool to play in with Vincent now.”

Like father, like son

Andrew Sovero’s journey to join his father as a club champion also took a detour — through the pool.

He graduated from McDonogh High in 2012 after becoming a Junior National Champion in the 100 breaststroke in 2011 and leaving the school as the 100 breaststroke state record holder and school record holder for the 200 medley.

In high school, he was also a three-time state champion in golf, but he went to the University of Arizona to swim.

McDonogh senior Andrew Sovero swims to a first-place finish in the 100-yard butterfly during the Eagles' 105-65 triumph over Loyola Blakefield in 2012. It was McDonogh's first win over the Dons in five years.
McDonogh senior Andrew Sovero swims to a first-place finish in the 100-yard butterfly during the Eagles' 105-65 triumph over Loyola Blakefield in 2012. It was McDonogh's first win over the Dons in five years. (photo by, Steve Ruark)

At Arizona, he earned Pac-12 All-Academic honorable mention honors his final three years and graduated in 2016.

After only playing golf a handful of times from 2013 to 2018, he committed to the sport again and that year reached the club championship final by defeating his father in the semifinals.

“I beat him on 17 and that was a special moment, but also a salty moment,” said Sovero, who lost to Grady in the final in 2018.

This year, Sovero didn’t make it to 17 in the final because he closed out Grady on the par 3 16th hole.

Leading by three, Sovero left his tee shot about 15-feet from the hole and pin high on the green, while Grady was in the bunker in two.

“I was three up with three to go, so I kind of figured a 2-putt was good enough for the win and it was, but it was just one of those things that I got so hot with my putter on the back nine that it was just going in,” said Sovero, who birdied 16 in both rounds. “I birdied those both rounds and that was probably a major, critical moment for me in the whole day.”

It was the fifth birdie in eight holes. He also birdied 9, 11, 12, 14 and 16 and finished with 13 birdies.

Despite the birdies, he had some anxious moments and his dad felt every one, while watching the action helplessly.

“It’s definitely a different experience for sure, it’s much easier playing,” Rick Sovero said.

“I can tell you I was nervous too. It was tough, a long day,” his son said.

Those nerves were shared by both Soveros on the par four 13th when Sovero’s drive went into the trees.

“He’s standing where I could see him and I just watched his reaction to see if I was going to be in a good spot or a bad spot and his arms went up in the air and he laid his head back and I was like ‘Aw, that can’t be good.’” Sovero recalled.

Both competitors missed the green in regulation, but Grady saved par with 12-footer and Sovero halved the hole with an 8-footer.

“I was three up at that time, so I think we both talked afterwards and we kind of agreed that if I had missed that par putt on 13, it becomes a lot more interesting,” Sovero said. “It was a tough day, but a lot of fun.”

Champions on Labor Day

Men’s Championship Flight: Andrew Sovero def. Kevin Grady, 4 & 2

Ladies Championship Flight: Carly Hunt def. Alana Alexander-Giles, 5 & 4

Ladies Championship Net Flight: Amanda Bereznay def. Rose Boehm, 2 & 1

Men’s 1st Flight: Zane Tallant def. Josh Beale, 3 & 2

Men’s 2nd Flight: Mike Duffy def. Mike Norton, 5 & 4

Men’s 3rd Flight: Mike Siuta def. Tom Hinkey, 4 & 3

Men’s 4th Flight: Matt Spence def. Ethan Edwards, 7 & 5

Men’s 5th Flight: Bob Sims def. Steve Fisher, 1-up

Men’s 6th Flight: Don Manser def. Kevin Kreis, 19 holes

Men’s 7th Flight: Corey Walsh def. Joel Seledee, 2-up

Men’s 8th Flight: Lee Connor def. Pat McNamara, 4 & 3

Men’s 9th Flight Scott Swann def. David Kelly, 3 & 2.

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