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Bethlehem's Knoll grabs
92nd Amateur Championship

  HUNTINGDON VALLEY, Pa.ĖAlex Knoll, 20, of Bethlehem GC, repelled a challenge from home course favorite Randy Rolfe and fellow collegiate Dan Walters of Conestoga CC to complete a gate-to-wire victory in the 92nd Amateur Championship on Wednesday at Huntingdon Valley CC.

  Knoll posted a final-round 70 to finish at 2-under-par (208). He was the only competitor to finish in red figures for the 54 holes of the tournament. Rolfe and Walters (211), who birdied the final hole, tied for second place three shots behind. Michael McDermott of Merion GC and P. Chet Walsh of Philadelphia CC (213) tied for fourth five shots back.

  "I thought my greatest moment in golf was qualifying for the U.S. Amateur last week, but this tops that," said Knoll, a junior at Davidson University. "Iím just so happy to win here. This was a great field on a great golf course.

  "When I finished the first round in the dark [on Monday] and I was leading, I said I can win this tournament."
  Knoll posted a pair of 69s to enter the third and final round with a one-shot lead.

  However, a couple of bad swings early and a strong push by Rolfe put Knoll two shots behind the hometown favorite heading to the ninth tee (par 4, 460 yards). Thatís where Rolfe found trouble off the tee. His second shot, from the right fescue, landed in the valley short of the green and his chip checked up to about 20 feet below the hole. Knollís approach on the downhill ninth left him with a difficult 12-foot birdie chance. Rolfeís first putt came up about three feet short. He missed it. Knoll poured in his birdie opportunity and in the blink of an eye the Bethlehem resident went from two shots back to one stroke ahead. Knoll never trailed again.

  "That was a big boost," said Knoll, wearing his lucky red Davidson golf shirt.

  Added Rolfe, "That took the steam out of me. I hadnít made any mistakes like that the whole tournament until then."

  Knoll drained a short birdie on No. 11 (par 4, 372 yards), and converted clutch up-and-downs on Nos. 13 (par 3, 184 yards), 14 (par 4, 467 yards) and 16 (par 4, 400 yards) to keep his competitors at armís length.

  "Those were more key to the victory than anything," said Knoll, a resident of Bethlehem, Pa.

  On 13, a par 3 guarded by a lake, Knoll pushed his 8-iron right and left his chip 10 feet short. He made the putt.

  On 14, his 3-iron landed in the bunker 40 yards short of the green. His bunker blasted stopped 15 feet from the hole. He made that putt as well.

  On 16, still up by four shots at the time, he rolled his approach shot off the back fringe of the green. A delicate chip from an uphill slope, the ball stopped six feet shy. He drained it.

  A bogey on No. 17 (par 3, 211 yards) resulted from a pulled 6-iron into the greenside bunker, but Knoll capped the victory in dramatic fashion on the difficult 18th (par 4, 434 yards) by splitting the fairway and knocking a 7-iron to 15 feet. When the birdie putt fell into the cup, Knoll raised his right arm in victory.

  Knoll would only say he was a little nervous standing on the final tee box. His top finish in an Amateur prior to this was an eighth-place showing at the CC of Scranton in 2003.

  Rolfe, 45, of Wyncote, Pa., the reigning Huntingdon Valley CC club champion, refused to fold. Playing with Knoll and Walters in the final threesome, Rolfe did all he could for the gallery following him.

  "The difference is they have fewer bad swings. And my bad swings were worse than theirs," said Rolfe, a real estate investor. "Every time I put a little heat on Alex he was up to the task.

  "I said coming in my objective was to make the cut and finish in the top 20. About midway through the second round, I changed my mind to giving myself a chance to win."

  Walters, 20, of Lancaster, Pa., is going to be a senior at Rollins College.

  He tied for seventh last year in the Amateur at the Fox Chapel.

  Reigning Amateur Champion Blaine Peffley of Lebanon CC tied for 10th.

  Next yearís Amateur Championship is set for Bent Creek CC.

  A total of 44 players made the cut from the initial 132-player field.

Player, Club

Rd 1

Rd 2

Rd 3

Total

Alex Knoll, Bethlehem Golf Club

69

69

70

208

Dan Walters, Conestoga Country Club

73

66

72

211

Randall L. Rolfe, Huntingdon Valley Country Club

71

68

72

211

P. Chet Walsh, Philadelphia Country Club

71

69

73

213

Michael P. McDermott, Merion Golf Club

74

68

71

213

Tyler Brewington, Mill Race Golf Course

72

71

71

214

Shawn Hall, Four Seasons Golf Club

74

66

74

214

Blaine Peffley, Lebanon Country Club

72

69

74

215

Sean R. Knapp, Longue Vue Club

73

74

68

215

John G. Sawin, Merion Golf Club

72

70

73

215

Glenn Smeraglio, Yardley Country Club

71

72

73

216

James M. Douglass, Blue Ridge Country Club

74

72

71

217

Tug Maude, Merion Golf Club

77

68

73

218

Andrew T. Turner, Four Seasons Golf Club

72

73

73

218

Jarred Texter, Lancaster Country Club

77

72

69

218

Oscar L. Mestre, Jr., Overbrook Golf Club

77

68

74

219

Bennett V. Smith, Fox Chapel Golf Club

76

73

70

219

Roc Irey, Cedarbrook Country Club

74

74

72

220

Paul J. Rogowicz, Yardley Country Club

75

72

73

220

David Vallina, Ponderosa Golf Course

77

71

72

220

Paul M. Polinsky, Manufacturers Golf & Country Club

75

70

75

220

Gary E. Daniels, Applebrook Golf Club

73

75

72

220

Frank Fairman, Totteridge Golf Club

73

70

78

221

George E. Marucci, Jr., Merion Golf Club

78

70

74

222

Eric W. Williams, Honesdale Golf Club

74

75

73

222

Gregory Pieczynski, Sand Springs Country Club

75

74

73

222

Rich Pruchnik, West Chester Golf & Country Club

72

76

74

222

Chad A. Bricker, Waynesboro Country Club

70

77

75

222

Chris Gallagher, Penn Oaks Golf Club

74

69

79

222

Tyler Witman, Four Seasons Golf Club

76

73

74

223

Billy Stewart, Llanerch Country Club

71

76

76

223

Logan Terry, Plymouth Country Club

71

75

78

224

Stephen Arnold, Yardley Country Club

76

72

76

224

Robin S. McCool, Saucon Valley Country Club

72

74

78

224

Sean Seese, Huntingdon Valley Country Club

72

77

76

225

Michael Dougherty, Huntingdon Valley Country Club

74

74

77

225

David Brown, St. Clair Country Club

74

75

76

225

Mike Danner, Lu Lu Country Club

79

67

79

225

Kyle T. Davis, Inniscrone Golf Club

77

72

77

226

Adam Cohan, The ACE Club

72

75

80

227

Kevin J. Reiber, Penn National Golf Club

82

66

79

227

James M. Gardas, Honesdale Golf Club

75

72

81

228

Scott Voelker, Lone Pine Golf Club

71

77

80

228

Harvin Groft, Elks Club of State College

73

75

84

232

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