Klein tops Storck for Md. amateur title, 2 and 1 Morning-round birdie at 10 points winner, 24, home

June 22, 1998|By John W. Stewart | John W. Stewart,SUN STAFF

Justin Klein helped his home club, Baltimore Country Club, celebrate its 100th birthday yesterday when he outlasted Larry Storck of the CC of Maryland, 2 and 1, for the men's amateur championship of the Maryland State Golf Association at BCC's Five Farms.

The turning point was the 10th hole of the morning round of the players' scheduled 36-hole final over the 6,681-yard, immaculately conditioned East Course.

Klein, 24, working his way back into a competitive frame of mind after easing off following an intensive college career at Duke, had just lost Nos. 8 and 9 to fall 3 down.

Faced with a breaking, 10-foot putt for a winning birdie after Storck's bid from about the same distance had curled around the edge on 10, Klein holed it.

"I was fortunate to be only 3 down, but making that putt -- it had about 18 inches of break -- helped calm me down. I proved to myself I could make a putt," Klein said.

Still 2 down after 14, Klein took the 15th with a par when Storck's five-footer for par failed to fall, and got even at the 18th when his approach shot rolled over the hole and stopped two feet away.

They were still even after 27, but Klein won the 10th (a 12-foot birdie putt) and the 11th (Storck three-putted), lost the 12th to a par, then restored the 2-up margin when his bid to lag an 18-foot putt fell in for birdie at the 14th.

"Once I made that birdie at 10 in the morning, my putting improved as the day went along," Klein said. He one-putted four of the first five holes on the final nine, three for wins.

"I tried not to think about the pressure," Klein said of playing on his home course. "I felt comfortable and relaxed with family and friends around for support.

"I enjoyed playing with Larry, but I knew I had to concentrate because he wasn't going to make any mistakes. I spent the last eight holes [avoiding outside distractions] staring at my shoes."

Storck, 40, the reigning City Amateur champion, said: "I never got tired hitting the ball, and if anything, I was too strong. I kept finding the wrong places on the greens."

Pub Date: 6/22/98

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