Freshman golfer Andrew Gallo took advantage of a little bit of luck and a lesson from former GW star Thomas Blankvoort to win the first tournament of his young career at Saturday’s Temple Invitational. GW finished eighth overall (603), 15 shots behind winner Maryland.
Gallo said his swing improved after a quick lesson from Blankvoort during a practice the 2002 graduate attended last week. The freshman said he had been struggling a little with his swing, and Blankvoort made a few suggestions. They worked, and now Gallo has the plaque on his dorm room wall to prove it.
This was the first individual win for a GW golfer since Blankvoort won the Rehoboth Beach Invitational in April 2002. Besides Blankvoort, who also won a tournament in 2001, Brian Derdinger and Ryan Day are the only other golfers to win for GW in the last five years. Derdinger and Day both won tournaments in 2000.
Playing at Glenmura National Golf Club, Gallo beat out junior Nick Cook of Georgetown and freshman Jason Gerken of Princeton in a sudden-death playoff that lasted two holes.
“I had a feeling coming in,” Gallo said. “I don’t want to sound cocky, but it just felt special (before the tournament).”
GW freshman Brian Carroll followed Gallo with a 150 and classmate Federico Guzman shot 153. Junior Charles Taylor (156) and senior Brad Friedlander (160) both struggled.
Gallo, Cook and Gerken were tied with a two-round total of 144, so the three played the 18th hole again. Gerken and Cook both hit errant drives, while Gallo sat in the fairway.
Gerken was able to recover to make a par four, while Cook ended his day with a bogey. After a nice approach, Gallo had a birdie chance to win but missed. He tapped in for par, sending himself and Gerken back to the tee.
Again Gerken hit a poor drive, while Gallo landed safely in the fairway. Gerken’s second shot landed in the water hazard protecting the green, leaving Gallo in perfect position to capture the title.
With only 80 yards to the green, Gallo said he was “jacked,” and it showed when his approach flew over the green. It hit a footbridge, flew 40 yards over the water and landed safely, albeit in the rough.
Gallo said he conferred with head coach Scott Allen, who told him to forget about the lie and just swing through with his head down. Gallo did just that, and the flop shot landed eight feet from the hole.
“I knew then that unless (Gerken) did something crazy, I was going to win,” Gallo said.
Gerken double bogeyed the hole and Gallo two-putted for the victory.
Beating Princeton and Georgetown golfers in the playoff was especially sweet for Gallo, who chose GW over the two schools and knew their coaches well. Allen said they were fitting opponents because GW recruited Gerken heavily.
“I could tell (Gerken) was really nervous before the last playoff hole,” Gallo said. “So I knew I just had to hit solid shots to win.”
The Colonials play next in the Lehigh Intercollegiate tournament Oct. 13 to 14. Allen said it will be the weakest field the team faces all fall, and he expects to finish high.