June 30, 2016

Partly sunny

Golf: Avon’s Kyle Kmiecik cruises to win

MEDINA — Kyle Kmiecik had his car on cruise control as he made his way from the course at Fox Meadow Country Club to Weymouth on Wednesday.

Avon’s Kyle Kmiecik tees off on the sixth hole at Weymouth Country Club in Medina during the U.S. Amateur qualifier. (CT photo by Ron Schwane.)

Avon’s Kyle Kmiecik tees off on the sixth hole at Weymouth Country Club in Medina during the U.S. Amateur qualifier. (CT photo by Ron Schwane.)

Dancing as he drove down the streets of Medina to the techno tunes of Swedish House Mafia, the 2010 St. Ignatius graduate and Kent State player put the pedal down in the second round of the U.S. Amateur qualifier.

When the dust cleared, the Avon resident’s 6-under-par 138 beat North Canton’s Jeff Mallette by four strokes and Reminderville’s Dennis Holub by five.

It gave Kmiecik medalist honors as he earned the right to play in the 111th U.S. Amateur at Erin Hills Golf Course in Erin, Wisc., which runs Aug. 22-28.

“My caddie (Andrew Bailey) and I weren’t in a rush to get (to Weymouth),” he said. “We were just jamming, having a good time.

“I feel like I had to still keep on the gas, but I was treating each shot like it was my last.”
That wasn’t hard to do as his first-round 68 left him with a one-shot lead over Kirtland’s Alex Andrews.

Kmiecik’s round at Fox Meadow included seven birdies as he made the first-round turn with birdies on four of the final five holes.

When he pushed it to 6-under after 15 holes, Kmiecik had an inkling that he might be in the hunt for an Amateur qualification.

“I just kept putting 100 percent of my concentration into the shot I was standing over,” said Kmiecik, who will join five Golden Flashes — past and present — at the Amateur. “At 6 under, I had an idea that I might make it.”

To be safe, the Ole Miss transfer kept things going at Weymouth.

Making the second-round turn at even, Kmiecik added birdies on 11 and 17 to finish his second round at 70. It was the lowest second round at Weymouth.

The win added to an already solid summer as Kmiecik has a top-10 and a top-15 finish in the only other two tournaments he’s played in.

“Those rounds felt really good,” Kmiecik said. “I’ve been close to putting together something like that. I was excited to finally do it.”

In doing so, Kmiecik sets his sights on winning the biggest amateur competition in golf.

It’s a tournament major winners Bobby Jones, Tiger Woods, Jack Nicklaus and Jerome Travers have won multiple times.

“I’m playing with the big boys. That’s all that needs to be said,” a smiling Kmiecik said. “Some of the greatest golfers have played there. That’s the biggest stage in golf. It’s going to be awesome.”

It also should give Kmiecik a sense of belonging as he prepares to fit in on a team ripe for action when he gets to Kent.

Grafton’s Jay Overy and Avon’s Beau Titsworth, who will be a senior this year at St. Ignatius, also played in the Amateur qualifier.

Titsworth shook off a 5-over 77 at Weymouth with a 75 at Fox Meadow to finish tied for 34th. Overy shot a 155 to finish tied for 45th in the 62-player field.

Avon’s Michael Opsitnick was scheduled to play in the event, but withdrew.

Contact Brad Bournival at 329-7135 or ctsports@chroniclet.com.