All the aspects of golf seem to come quickly for Matt Lowe, 17, including victories. That was obvious Friday, just after his junior year at Farmingdale High School ended, as he won the Long Island Amateur Championship.
It was a classic match against Daniel Abbondandolo, with big momentum swings down the stretch of the 36-hole final before Lowe won with a birdie on the first extra hole. It is the biggest title so far for a golfer who made national news by trying to qualify for the U.S. Open at 13. He has learned since then, of course, that the game can have ups and downs from minute to minute.
"This is definitely one of the 'ups,'" said the champion, who plays out of Colonial Springs Golf Club and has recently begun studying under Mill River pro Mark Mielke. "My swing is just technically better now. I feel better with it."
With the match tied after 28 holes at Huntington Country Club, Lowe birdied the 11th (having driven the par 4 green) and 12th. Then Abbondandolo, who plays at Brookville Country Club, drew even by making birdies on 13 and 14. Each made birdie on 15. Abbondandolo had the best chance to win it on No. 18, but as he said afterward, "I left a 10-footer for birdie short."
"He's definitely a good solid ball striker and I wish him the best. He's got a lot of potential," said the runnerup, who impressed Lowe with his graciousness. Abbondandolo, who keeps his game in shape despite working two jobs, selling title insurance and running his own real estate firm, said, "I've been around for a while now. I know this isn't your life."
The match was one that Lowe won't ever forget. Long Island Golf Association Executive Director Stephen Smith was amazed by the quality of the match, and the pace. The final 19 holes took less than three hours, proving you can play good golf without taking forever.
Poplarski busy at Open
Aside from the crews who fluffed up the rough, the busiest person at Merion Golf Club last week was Dr. Jeff Poplarski, the Amityville chiropractor who served for the ninth consecutive year as director of the U.S. Open's wellness team. He assembled and coordinated 130 health care providers, including acupuncturists and hyperbaric chamber technicians. The group treated 369 people (including players) in the caddie hospitality area and 865 in the volunteer tent.
The father-son team of Franco and Joe Russo of Smithtown won the MGA Men's Net Team Championship Thursday at Engineers Country Club in Roslyn Heights. They shot 11-under par 60 . . . In keeping with the national Play 9 initiative, Swan Lake in Manorville is holding weekly nine-hole tournaments on Saturdays at 4 p.m., followed by dinner and an awards ceremony.
Today completes Tee It Forward weekend throughout the country, with golf aficionados led by Jack Nicklaus imploring golfers to play from a set of forward tees to make the game more enjoyable.