Play Suspended Due To Darkness With 15 Players, 6 Teams On Course September 14, 2010 By David Shefter, USGA

Erik Hanson of Washington was one of just a handful of players to break par in the first round at Mayacama G.C. The ex-major-league pitcher shot a 2-under 69. (Steve Gibbons/USGA)
Santa Rosa, Calif. – A year ago at the Country Club of St. Albans in suburban St. Louis, Kansas came within three shots of winning its first USGA Men’s State Team title.

With the incentive of a runner-up finish still fresh, Kansas arrived at Mayacama Golf Club this week hoping to go one spot better.

Led by a 2-under-par 69 from 51-year-old Bryan Norton of Mission Hills, Kansas began that quest in strong fashion on Tuesday, posting a team total of 2-under-par 140 on the 6,726-yard Jack Nicklaus design to share the first-round lead with Washington.

Alabama and Florida were one stroke back at 141, while Georgia and Utah shared fifth at even-par 142. Defending champion Pennsylvania and host California were among a group of teams at 2-over 144.

Because of a one-hour fog delay in the morning, six teams and 15 players were unable to complete their rounds. Play was suspended due to darkness at 7:35 p.m. PDT. The first round will resume at 7:15 a.m. PDT on Wednesday along with the start of round two of the 54-hole competition.

We had a good day, said Norton, the 2003 U.S. Mid-Amateur runner-up who is the only returning player from the 2009 Kansas team. It was a tough start this morning because it was chilly.

 Charlie Stevens of Wichita added an even-par 71, while Tyler Shelton’s 80 was discarded in the count-two-of-three format.

Washington, meanwhile, received an opening 69 from former major-league pitcher Erik Hanson of Kirkland and an even-par 71 from Derek Berg of Kenmore. Mike Haack of Bellevue had a non-scoring 73.

Mike Ballo Jr., a recent St. John’s University graduate from Stamford, Conn., had the morning’s low round with a 67, one stroke off the competitive course record. Connecticut, however, posted a 4-over 146 team total. Ballo’s 67 was matched in the afternoon by 39-year-old Jon Veneziano of Eustis, Fla. Veneziano closed with birdies on 15, 17 and 18 to get Florida, which has never won the Men’s State Team, within a shot of the lead.

It was dark when we were hitting our second shots into 18, said Veneziano, a veteran of 13 USGA championships who earlier this year shot a 66 in his sectional qualifier for the U.S. Amateur Public Links Championship. I lost my momentum when I three-putted the par-3 14th. Then I hit my drive on 15 … and hit my wedge [approach] to 20 feet and made that [birdie putt].

Doug Snoap and Don Bell each added 74s for Florida, with one of them being discarded for the team total.

Hanson, competing in his fifth Men’s State Team, finished with five birdies – four on the first nine – and three bogeys. He might have gone even lower had a few more quality birdie chances dropped on the second nine.

I was inside 7 feet on 12, 13 and 17 and missed all three, said Hanson, who compiled an 89-84 record in 10 seasons with Boston, Toronto, Seattle and Cincinnati. It’s only the first day, so it doesn’t really mean a lot. But it’s good to get off to a good start.

Hanson and Berg were both on last year’s team that tied for eighth, which matched Washington’s best finish in the event.

So far so good, said Berg, whose up-and-down par at No. 18 secured his even-par finish. I am looking forward to the next two days.

The greens were just perfect. Erik and Mike [Haack] are good putters, so when the greens are good, we can make some good scores.

Kansas arrived in time for only one practice round on Monday. The team played in the chillier morning conditions, so Norton is a little concerned about how Kansas might perform in the afternoon on Wednesday when they more than likely will face warmer weather.

We talked about trying to find a way to get through this morning and then tomorrow getting some warmth in the afternoon, said Norton. Our only concern is we haven’t played in those conditions.

The story of the afternoon wave centered on Robert Nelson of Mobile, Ala. The 49-year-old, who started on No. 10, turned in 5-under-par 30, then proceeded to register three consecutive birdies from No. 1. He holed a 22-footer at the par-4 first, reached the par-5 second in two and knocked his tee shot on the par-3 third to 3 feet.

Then the wheels came off, said Nelson, who was on the verge of breaking both the course record and 18-hole championship record of 64. I had [a low number] in my grasp. I wish I could have three or four swings back.

Nelson double-bogeyed No. 4, bogeyed the par-3 fifth and then, playing the par-5 ninth in near darkness, he three-putted from 20 feet, lipping out a 3-foot bogey putt to settle for a 68.

I told myself to quit thinking about a number and play shot to shot, said Nelson, whose career-best round is a 63. I was hitting it great today. I was putting well. All it takes is three or four [poor] swings and there you go.

Alabama also received a 73 from Glenn Northcutt of Dothan.

Ballo has had a very strong past few months in what is his final summer as an amateur. He successfully defended his Ike Championship, one of the premier events within the Metropolitan Golf Association, and was third at the Northeast Amateur.

On Tuesday, he jump-started what was a steady round by knocking his approach shot from 130 yards at the par-4 10th hole to within a foot for a miraculous par after his tee shot found the hazard.

He followed with birdies at 12, 14, 15 and 18.

Under these [championship] circumstances, I think it’s by far the best I have played, said Ballo, who plans to turn professional in November and play the Winter Series on the Hooters Tour in Florida.

Ballo, 22, decided not to enter PGA Tour Qualifying School this fall due to finances and he also wanted a chance to represent Connecticut at this event. He is headed to Europe next month with a group of amateurs from the MGA for a special competition in France.

Even with his team struggling in the first round, Ballo’s effort put him in contention for individual medalist honors. The USGA started awarding a medal for the low individual at the MST last year. South Carolina’s Mark Anderson, now on the Nationwide Tour, edged out Mike Van Sickle of victorious Pennsylvania by a stroke in 2009.

That’s definitely an added incentive, said Ballo. Hopefully we can play well [as a team] the next few days. Obviously, I am here to represent Connecticut, but individual medalist would definitely be an honor.

The USGA Men’s State Team Championship is a biennial competition for all 50 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico that began in 1995. The 54-hole competition continues on Wednesday and concludes with the final round on Thursday.

David Shefter is a USGA staff writer. E-mail him with questions or comments at

Santa Rosa, Calif. – Results from the first round of the ninth USGA Men’s State Team Championship being conducted at the 6,726-yard, par-71 Mayacama Golf Club. (Round completed Wednesday morning due to suspension for darkness at 7:35 p.m. PDT on Tuesday)

T1—Kansas (140): Bryan Norton, Mission Hills 35-34--69; Charlie Stevens, Wichita 38-33--71; Tyler Shelton, Fairway 40-40--80

T1—Washington (140): Erik Hanson, Kirkland 35-34--69; Derek Berg, Kenmore 37-34--71; Mike Haack, Bellevue 38-35--73

T3—Florida (141): Jon Veneziano, Eustis 34-33--67; Don Bell, Port Orange 38-36--74; Doug Snoap, Apopka 42-32--74

T3—Alabama (141): Robert Nelson, Mobile 38-30--68; Glenn Northcutt, Dothan 37-36--73; Steve Hudson, Birmingham 38-36--74

T5—Georgia (142): Doug Hanzel, Savannah 36-32--68; David Noll Jr, Dalton 42-32--74; Adam Cooper, Columbus 37-38--75

T5—Utah (142): Darrin Overson, Provo 36-34--70; Kirk Siddens, Salt Lake City 38-34--72; Dan Horner, Sandy 37-38--75

7—North Carolina (143): Paul Simson, Raleigh 38-33--71; Scott Harvey, Greensboro 38-34--72; Uly Grisette, Clemmons 39-35--74

T8—Rhode Island (144): Garrett Medeiros, Rumford 35-37--72; Bobby Leopold, Cranston 36-36--72; Charlie Blanchard, North Providence 37-39--76

T8—West Virginia (144): Pat Carter, Huntington 40-32--72; Jonathan Bartlett, Lewisburg 36-36--72; Steve Fox, Huntington 48-37--85

T8—Pennsylvania (144): Nathan Smith, Pittsburgh 36-35--71; Sean Knapp, Oakmont 40-33--73; Artie Fink Jr, Altoona 44-35--79

T8—Illinois (144): Todd Mitchell, Bloomington 36-35--71; Brad Benjamin, Rockford 37-36--73; John Ehrgott, Peoria 39-40--79

T8—South Carolina (144): Todd White, Moore 36-34--70; Steve Liebler, Irmo 40-34--74; Brent Roof, Columbia 43-36--79

T8—Massachusetts (144): Brian Higgins, Bellingham 35-36--71; Frank Vana, North Andover 36-37--73; John Hadges, North Easton 39-36--75

T8—Tennessee (144):  Jeff Golliher, Knoxville 37-35--72; Todd Burgan, Knoxville 38-34--72; Tim Jackson, Germantown 35-38--73

T8—California (144): Randy Haag, Burlingame 36-35--71; Jeff Wilson, Fairfield 38-35--73; Harry Rudolph III, La Jolla 36-39--75

16—Oklahoma (145): Heath Myers, Kingfisher 40-31--71; Jay Smith, Edmond 39-35--74; Brad Kropp, Edmond 41-39--80

T17—New Jersey (146): Brian Komline, Bridgewater 41-31--72; Thomas Gramigna, Haddonfield 40-34--74; David Pierce, Branchburg 41-38--79

T17—Connecticut (146): Mike Ballo, Stamford 36-31--67; Ryan Leahey, Orange 40-39--79; Bill Hermanson, East Lyme 39-44--83

T17—Virginia (146): Scott Shingler, Haymarket 36-35--71; Keith Decker, Martinsville 38-37--75; Roger Newsom, Virginia Beach 39-37--76

T17—Missouri (146): Brad Nurski, St Joseph 41-34--75; Tyler Stalker, Springfield 43-39--82; Scott Hovis, Jefferson City 37-34--71

T21—Texas (147) Aaron Hickman, Dallas 36-35--71; Rob Couture, Dallas 39-37--76; John Bearrie, Arlington 40-38--78

T21—Mississippi (147): Fletcher Johnson, Belden 36-37--73; Scott Rhodes, Ridgeland 40-34--74; Lane Pippin, Ocean Springs 40-35--75

T21—Minnesota (147): Erik Christopherson, Stillwater 36-35--71; Johnny Larson, New Ulm 40-36--76; Greg Melhus, Rogers 40-37--77

T21—New York (147): Tim Spitz, Pittsford 38-34--72; Hans Albertsson, Sleepy Hollow 41-34--75; Ken Riter, Buffalo 41-40--81

T25—Vermont (148): Brian Albertazzi, Killington 36-35--71; Garren Poirier, Killington 39-38--77; Eric Lajeunesse, Barre 44-41--85

T25—New Mexico (148): Matthew Williams, Albuquerque 40-33--73; Patrick Hanlon, Las Cruces 41-34--75; Antone Salome, Socorro 44-36--80

T25—Oregon (148): Chad Sawyer, West Linn 38-35--73; Jim Dunlap, Beaverton 37-38--75; Paul Peterson, Corvallis 40-39--79

T25—Ohio (148): Bill Williamson, Cincinnati 37-35--72; Jeff Scohy, Bellbrook 41-35--76; Robert Gerwin II, Cincinnati 39-40--79

T29—Iowa (149): Michael McCoy, West Des Moines 37-35--72; J. D. Anderson, West Des Moines 39-38--77; Jon Brown, Urbandale 37-41--78

T29—New Hampshire (149): Nicholas Macdonald, Lebanon 34-40--74; Jim Cilley, Penacook 38-37--75; Ken Nilson, Center Harbor 44-38--82

T31—Nebraska (150): Travis Minzel, Lincoln 37-38--75; Ryan Nietfeldt, Omaha 40-35--75; John Sajevic, Fremont 37-40--77

T31—Kentucky (150): Robert Crockett, Louisville 40-37--77; Mark Knecht, Paducah 39-38--77; Andy Roberts, Owensboro 33-40--73

T33—Arizona (152): Kyle Kallan, Peoria 36-35--71; Patrick Geare, Tucson 40-41--81; Kenneth Kellaney, Phoenix 39-42--81

T33—Colorado (152): Jon Lindstrom, Broomfield 38-37--75; James Kurtenbach, Highlands Ranch 40-37--77; Michael Harrington, Colorado Springs 40-37--77

T33—Maine (152): Matt Greenleaf, Portland 40-35--75; Ricky Jones, Thomaston 39-38--77; Seth Sweet, Madison 41-38--79

T33—Louisiana (152): Grady Brame, Hammond 39-33--72; Patrick Christovich, New Orleans 40-40--80; Daniel Berger, New Orleans 40-41--81

T37—Montana (153): Mark Mance, Whitefish 38-37--75; Bill Dunn, Missoula 38-40--78; Brandon Davison, Billings 42-38--80

T37—Maryland (153): Jeff Lim-Sharpe, Silver Spring 42-36--78; Michael Meyer, Rockville 43-41--84; Brent Martin, La Plata 38-37--75

T39—Indiana (155): Randy Nichols, Brookville 40-35--75; Sam Till, Fort Wayne 39-41--80; Skip Runnels, Richmond 43-37--80

T39—Alaska (155): Adam Baxter, Fairbanks 38-38--76; Greg Sanders, Anchorage 42-37--79; Casey Cusack, Anchorage NC-NC--NC

T39—Michigan (155): Eric Lilleboe, Okemos 39-38--77; Jeff Champine, Rochester Hills 40-38--78; Joseph Juszczyk, Dearborn Heights 42-38--80

T42—Idaho (156): Matt McPhie, Star 38-39--77; Everett Grimes, Nampa 39-40--79; Matt Meador, Hailey 47-38--85

T42—Arkansas (156): Wes McNulty, Pine Bluff 38-39--77; Neal Westbrook, Russellville 39-40--79; Chris Jenkins, Little Rock 43-42--85

T42—South Dakota (156): Ryan Jansa, Sioux Falls 41-35--76; Tim Kalil, Brookings 44-36--80; Paul Schock, Sioux Falls 43-46--89

T45—Wyoming (159): Todd Griffin, Casper 39-40--79; John Hornbeck, Saratoga 41-39--80; Morgan Splichal, Gillette 42-39--81

T45—Delaware (159): Darrell Clayton, Wilmington 38-43--81; Greg Wolfe, Newark 40-38--78; Chase Brockstedt, Rehoboth Beach 39-43--82

47—Wisconson (161): Todd Schaap, Kenosha 41-39--80; Pat Boyle, South Milwaukee 38-43--81; Kevin Cahill, Waukesha 40-41--81

T48—Hawaii (162): Hunter Larson, Naalehu 38-39--77; Reo Saito, Honolulu 44-41--85; Jared Kato, Pearl City 47-43--90

T48—Nevada (162): Joe Sanders, Incline Village 43-38--81; Brady Exber, Las Vegas 43-38--81; Steve Fink, Las Vegas 45-43--88

T48—North Dakota (162): Todd Baumgartner, Bismarck 39-41--80; Rick Kuhn, Bismarck 42-40--82; Tim Skarperud, Grand Forks 42-42--84

51—Puerto Rico (163): Erick J Morales, San Juan 43-36--79; Roberto Fabelo, San Juan 40-44--84; Elvin Gonzalez, San Juan 47-43—90

52—District of Columbia (172): Richard Ledwidge, Washington 49-49--98; Mychael Cohn, Washington 40-41--81; Kevin McDonnell, Washington 48-43--91