Ryan Stankewicz has been taking a break from golf this summer, but with a senior season at South Carroll High School about to begin, the reigning Times Player of the Year decided to make his debut in this year’s Carroll County Amateur Golf Championship.
Piney Branch Golf Club hosted the 18-hole event Monday, which meant Stankewicz got a chance to play the course’s back nine for the first time.
Things turned out just fine for the tournament rookie — Stankewicz carded a pair of birdies and put together a consistent round to win the championship flight title.
Stankewicz finished at 2-over 73, two strokes ahead of runner-up and 2015 South Carroll graduate Mike Graessle.
Tim McCabe equaled Graessle with a 75, but ties were broken by using the lower back nine score for each player (Graessle shot 38, McCabe fired a 39).
Ray Sheedy, a six-time Carroll Amateur champion, made his tournament return and shot 76.
Stankewicz set the tone for his round right away with a birdie on the par-4 first hole, then capped it by making a birdie on the par-4 18th.
A few bumps and errant shots along the way, he said, but not too shabby for someone who hasn’t been all that pleased with his game since the school year ended.
“I’ve been struggling recently; that’s part of not practicing as much as I have [in] other years,” Stankewicz said. “Not playing in as many competitive tournaments and getting myself out there. I was hitting the ball pretty well the other day, so I thought, let’s see how it went [Monday].”
His 12-foot putt for birdie found the cup on the opening hole, after a solid drive and a pitching wedge onto the green, and Stankewicz said that boosted him for the entire round.
Playing with former county rival Brian Sadler, a recent Liberty High School grad and the Times Player of the Year in 2016, and former Carroll Amateur champ Scott Brennan (1995), Stankewicz said he banked on a score close to par being strong enough to win.
The group ahead of him featured Sheedy, Graessle, and Liberty grad Gavin Greer.
Sadler and Brennan stayed close, as did Graessle and Sheedy.
McCabe, who played his round with some of the men’s regular division participants, had the clubhouse lead with his 75 before the other pairings came home. Then Graessle finished off his 75 to create the chance of a playoff to determine a champion.
No need — Stankewicz came to the 18th needing a par to win, then sent a long drive out to within pitching wedge range of the final green. His approach landed about 4 feet from the hole, pin high, and Stankewicz drained the birdie putt before pumping his fist toward the ground.
“I was just steady coming in, didn’t make too many mistakes,” Stankewicz said. “Every time I had a good shot I tried to build upon it.”
The regular division gross title went to Gary Parker (75), and Steve Chapman (70) claimed the regular division net crown.
Marty Sennett won the senior division gross with a 68, and Jay Campbell shot 67 to take the senior division net victory.
Sheedy, who bogeyed the 18th to miss out on a potential tie for second, spent some time after the tournament chatting with Stankewicz. The Francis Scott Key graduate is considered one of Carroll’s all-time greats, with a pair of Times Player of the Year honors (2000, 2001) and a Player of the Decade nod in 2009.
“There were a few people playing who I knew were [good] players,” he said. “Obviously Ray. Mike is a good player, and Brian. So I knew it was going to be a lower score, so I thought I had to make that putt [on 18] for something.”
Championship flight: 1. Ryan Stankewicz 73, 2. Mike Graessle 75, 3. Tim McCabe 75, 4. Ray Sheedy 76, 5. Scott Brennan 79, 6. Brian Sadler 79, 7. Gavin Greer 84.
Regular division gross (white tees): 1. Gary Parker 75, 2. Steve Havas 76, 3. Jonathan Smith 76.
Regular division net (white tees): 1. Steve Chapman 70, 2. Scott Murdick 70, 3. Tom Blackburn 71, 4. James Richardson 72, 5. Rick Broderick 73, 6. Daniel Bittle 73, 7. Rick Herman 74, 7. Tim Coxon 74.
Senior division gross (gold tees): 1. Marty Sennett 68, 2. Rick Moore 73, 3. Kevin Cannaday 81.
Senior division net (gold tees): 1. Jay Campbell 67, 2. Buddy Slack 68, 3. Donald Meyer 69, 4. Ed Palguta 71, 5. Bill Stricker 71, 6. Bill Gellatly 73, 7. Bob Clary 74, 8. Mike Kurylo 76, 9. Rom Bergman 77, 10. Brian Dalgarno 78.