Jim Maru Scrambles to Win Bethlehem Golf Club Amateur Stroke Play Championship

July 21, 2016

BETHLEHEM — Jim Maru of Allentown finally got his first victory on the regional amateur golf circuit.

A 23-year-old Moravian College senior, Maru put on a chipping and putting clinic on the back Sunday to win the 61st annual Bethlehem Golf Club Amateur Stroke Play Championship.

Maru survived a pair of strong final-round rallies from defending champion Evan Notaro of Moore Township and 2014 winner Grant Schumaker of Lower Macungie Township with a 2-under-par back nine 33; which featured 5 up-and-down scrambles for pars, and just 11 putts over nine holes.

Maru, a four-year starter for the Greyhounds, finished with a 36-hole score of 2-under-par 70-70–140, to outlast Notaro and Schumaker, who both shot 73-71–144.

Having grown up competing against Notaro and Schumaker on the Lehigh Valley Junior Golf Tour, the left-handed Maru was pleased to get his first amateur tournament victory after capturing five collegiate tournament titles.

“All of my friends play well like Cole (Miller), Grant, Evan, Tyler (Smith), and Chad Hess, so I want to keep up with them,” said Maru, who will complete his¬†undergraduate studies this fall at Moravian. “It’s awesome to win, especially with all the greats who have won it.”

Entering Sunday’s final round, Maru was in the lead at 1-under-par by two strokes over 2000 champion Dave Olexson of Coopersburg, and by three strokes over Notaro, Schumaker, and Kyle Henofer of Sellersville.

Paced by birdies on the second, sixth, and eighth holes, Maru held a two-shot lead at 2-under-par over Schumaker.

However, Schumaker, a rising junior golfer at Robert Morris University, grabbed a one-stroke lead over Maru with a par on the ninth hole and a birdie on the par-4 tenth hole. Meanwhile, Maru double bogeyed the par-4 ninth hole after missing the green to the right with his approach shot.

Maru quickly seized control of the tournament again on the back nine.

Maru took a two-stroke lead at 1-under-par with five pars and a birdie of the par-4 12th hole, while Schumaker bogeyed the par-4 11th and 13th holes. He lengthened the lead to three strokes with a birdie on the par-3 16th hole, and ended the round with two pars.

Notaro, a rising senior golfer at Temple University, mounted a back nine surge with birdies on the 14th, 15th, and 17th holes to pull within three strokes of Maru, but the former Northampton golf standout bogeyed the final hole to finish in a tie for second place with Schumaker.

“I needed to keep my head down and focus,” Maru said. “I kept looking ahead at how Grant was playing, and I knew what I needed to do to finish.”

Maru’s back chipping and putting display was remarkable:

  • 10th hole: 50-foot chip from behind the green to eight feet from the hole, par.
  • 11th hole: 70-foot chip three feet past the cup, par.
  • 12th hole: 12-foot birdie putt.
  • 14th hole: 10-foot downhill par putt.
  • 15th hole: chip from deep rough in front of the right bunker three feet from the hole, par.
  • 16th hole: 15-foot birdie putt.
  • 17th hole: 40-yard wedge shot 12 feet past the cup, par.

“I’ve been hitting it well for months now,” Maru said. “60 to 70 percent of my practice is on the short game. I switched my putting grip on Tuesday. My right hand went low, to a crossed-hand grip. It felt comfortable.”

In the Senior Amateur Division, Mike Guro of Bethlehem shot 5-over-par 73-74–147 to win the title for the second consecutive year by two strokes over Dylan Spadt of Hanover Township (73-76–149). Guro, 52, has also won three Silver Creek CC club titles, and a Southmoore GC club championship.

61st annual Bethlehem Golf Club Amateur Stroke Play Championship
Bethlehem Golf Club (par 71)

Final 36-hole scores:

Amateur Division:
1. Jim Maru 70-70-140 (2-under-par);
2-T. Grant Schumaker 73-71-144, Evan Notaro 73-71-144;
4. Tyler Smith 74-75-149;
5. David Olexson Sr 72-81-153;
6-T. Steven Gonzales 82-72-154, Kyle Henofer 73-81-154;
8-T. Ryan Orcutt 77-79-156, Eric Balcik 75-81-156;
10. Andrew Frank 78-83-161;
11. John Jaques 83-80-163;
12-T. Will Marquette 81-84-165, Jacob Siegfried 81-84-165, Nicholas Beckish 80-85-165;
15. Kyle Morrow 89-85-174;
16. Chris Trotta 96-91-187.
Senior Amateur Division:
1. Michael Guro 73-74-147 (5-over-par);
2. Dylan Spadt 73-76-149;
3-T. Andrew Lykon 72-79-151, Tom Egolf 72-79-151;
5-T. Tom Woodring 80-76-156, Rick Kunkle 76-80-156;
7. Robert Schultz 82-76-158;
8. Fred Lening 80-83-163;
9-T. David Clark 85-87-172, Anthony Enos 83-89-172.

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