East Xtra: Putting is key to summer success for Central grad

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During the second round of the 2013 West Penn Amateur Golf Championship at Butler Country Club, Spencer Mellon was having trouble with his ball striking.

A redshirt junior at the University of Cincinnati and 2010 Central Catholic High School graduate, he hit just six greens in regulation, which could have ruined his chances at a top-five finish.

But as he was throughout the two-day, three-round tournament, Mellon was masterful on the greens.

Mellon was able to card a 75 in the second round, and sandwiched around two 69s, he finished in a tie for fourth place with a three-round total of 213 on the par-70 course.

"I played pretty well," Mellon said. "My ball striking wasn't there, but I wasn't missing many putts. I felt really confident in my short game."

Mellon had just 81 putts total in the three rounds and never had more than 28 putts in an individual round. He said putting has always been one of his strengths.

"It's never been an issue for me," Mellon said. "I've always hit a lot of good putts, it's just sometimes they burn the edges [of the hole] or I misread the putt. [At the West Penn] they started to fall, and I gained confidence."

Mellon will try to carry that confidence to the 100th Pennsylvania State Amateur Championship July 29-31 at Saucon Valley Country Club near Bethlehem.

Mellon qualified by finishing third at a qualifier June 27 at Sewickley Heights Golf Club. The top nine players plus ties qualified for the state tournament.

"It was pouring rain that day, and I had an 8:40 [a.m.] tee time, and I didn't actually tee off until 12:50 [p.m.]," Mellon said. "It was a long day. But I stayed patient, hit 15 greens and was able to secure a spot."

The summer tournaments should prepare Mellon for his upcoming season with the Bearcats. Mellon played in three college tournaments last season, finishing with a stroke average of 78.4.

It was a nice comeback season for Mellon, an Oakmont native as well as an Oakmont Country Club member, who missed the spring of 2012 with a broken elbow. The injury forced Mellon to go six months without touching a club.

"I still can't straighten [my elbow] all the way, but there is no pain," Mellon said.

The biggest positive was that the injury did not force Mellon to change his swing. In fact, he said the setback may have helped his game.

"I felt like I would lose distance, but I've actually been hitting farther since I've come back," Mellon said. "I don't want to say it's been a blessing, but it hasn't impacted me as much as I thought it would."

Now Mellon has his sights set on improving on his best collegiate tournament, a seventh-place finish at the Davidson Invitational as a freshman.

"I've had some good rounds, but I just haven't finished as high at the end of the tournaments," he said.

"I need to just stay patient and minimize big numbers. If I can find a way to put my driver in play, I should have a good shot to play well."



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