Terps junior Unikel uses final-round 68 to take Md. Open Youngest winner since '79 edges Evenson, Winters

July 16, 1998|By John W. Stewart | John W. Stewart,SUN STAFF

Keith Unikel, a University of Maryland junior, came from five shots back with a closing 4-under-par 68, lifting him to a 54-hole total of 217 and a one-stroke victory in the 77th annual Maryland Open at Crofton Country Club yesterday.

The winner had opened 75-74 and finished about an hour ahead of the last groups. Down the stretch, Mark Evenson and second-round leader Dennis Winters had their chances, but could not get the one birdie that would have given either, or both, a share of the lead.

They ended tied at 218, as Evenson shot 72, and Winters 74. It marked the third time in the past five years, and fourth overall, that Winters, who knew his position for the last four holes, had finished as runner-up.

At one time or another, there were at least eight or 10 players around the lead, but of the five who began the round one stroke off the pace, the best finisher was two-time champion Wayne DeFrancesco.

Within striking distance the whole round, he wound up with 74219, where he tied Mark Spolarich, who had rallied with a 71.

At 19 years, 8 months, Unikel is the youngest champion since Gary Marlowe, son of former Woodmont CC professional Tony Marlowe, won the first of his two titles at age 19 years, 2 months in 1979.

Unikel had two birdies on each side during a bogey-free final round that included no three-putts on greens that proved difficult to handle for many in the field. From 150 starters on Monday, 45 survived two cuts to play the final round.

"I had a hard time finding my rhythm at the start, and it wasn't until No. 6 that something seemed to click. After that, I was fine," said the winner, who came into the tournament off a three-week summer school session.

He had just birdied the fifth hole with a downhill 20-foot putt, and followed with a birdie at the seventh, where he rolled in a five-footer. On the back, after saving par at 10 and 11, he birdied the 13th from eight feet and the 15th from 18 feet.

Unikel's triumph was especially satisfying, as he had started Monday with a two-stroke penalty for being late for his tee time.

"I really felt negative about my start. I came out thinking about winning, and had a letdown right away." He promptly birdied the first two holes, however, and as he added, "That negative feeling makes you want to take it to the stick harder. Without it, who knows how I would have started."

a-Keith Unikel 75-74-68-217; Mark Evenson 73-73-72-218; Dennis Winters 71-73-74-218; Mark Spolarich 73-75-71-219; Wayne DeFrancesco 73-72-74-219; a-Dan Riskam 75-70-75-220; a-Tim Dilli 74-72-75-221; Larry Ringer 74-71-76-221; Jack Skilling 78-73-71-222; Jeff Rosenberg 77-68-77-222; a-Douglas Conkey 77-75-71-223; Dirk Schultz 75-74-74-223; Charlie Briggs 75-73-75-223; a-Dan Hoffman 76-77-71-224; a-Miguel Rivera 76-73-75-224; a-Derek Ausherman 76-77-72-225; Eric Cobb 77-76-72-225; David Dorn 77-76-72-225; a-Kirk Lombardi 71-77-77-225; a-Steve Thomas 74-72-79-225; a-Vance Welch 76-76-74-226; a-Evan Hileman 77-75-74-226; a-Dave Rasley 76-74-76-226; a-Adrian Druzgala 67-81-78-226; a-Pete Hiskey 75-70-81-226.

Glen Miller 76-76-76-228; Steve Bosdosh 73-76-79-228; a-Paul Vanzutphen 74-73-81-228; Tom Lewandowski 75-77-77-229; a-Chris Connolly 72-76-81-229; John McNaney 76-77-77-230; a-Rick Riddle 77-76-77-230; Ricky Touma 76-77-77-230; Ron Thomas 75-77-78-230; a-Bill Palko 77-74-79-230; Mike Kavka 74-76-80-230; David Hutsell 77-73-80-230; Bernie Najar 77-76-78-231; a-Mike Davis 73-78-80-231; a-Tim Landres 75-76-81-232; Mike Kenny 75-77-81-233; a-Chris Sheaffer 75-76-73-234; James Morris 76-75-84-235; John Ruddo 77-74-84-235; a-Bill Read 74-77-85-236.

a-amateur

Pub Date: 7/16/98

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