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Fazio finding time for golf when back cooperates

Published: Thursday, July 10, 2014 10:14 p.m. CDT
Caption
(Photo provided by Dayton Athletic Communications)
Marmion product Matt Fazio has tuned up for his junior season at Dayton by playing at Royal Fox in St. Charles.

Ask Matt Fazio about balancing golf with a summer internship at Northwestern Mutual, and his words eventually sway the scale.

“The way I kind of view summer golf in the offseason, it’s more to just keep the competitive juices flowing,” Fazio said. “I’d love to do well in the tournaments. However, if I don’t, it’s not the end of the world. I’m just trying to not get rusty, if you know what I mean.”

No worries there for the Marmion graduate and Dayton junior. Although his internship occupies more than 40 hours of his time each week, Fazio still finds room for various summer qualifiers, as well as rounds at his home course, Royal Fox Country Club in St. Charles.

“Whatever the schedule allows” really is more ample than he initially thought.

That bodes especially well lately, considering a recent history with back issues. Fazio experienced muscle spasms in his back during the first part of his sophomore season at Dayton and was limited to only two tournaments and five total rounds.

He averaged 82.4 strokes in that span, off the pace of his freshman season, which saw him average 79.3 in seven rounds.

Thus far, his top tournament as a Flyer remains the Detroit Golf Club Invitational as a freshman, when he tied for 19th with a two-day 147.

“I have a pretty bad back right now, so I’m always trying to keep that as good as possible,” Fazio said. “But sometimes that’s not the case and it keeps me out.”

Fazio’s internship required him to get licensed as a life and health insurance representative, so if things ever get really balky, he literally could have himself covered.

More importantly than keeping Fazio off his feet for extended periods, the challenging summer work has offered a peek into his possible future.

“I’m basically fully immersed in the financial world with that position, which is pretty cool,” he said. “It gives me a good idea of how this would go as a career.”

One potential – if not lofty – alternative recently hit close to home, as Fazio learned that Naperville North product Raymond Knoll had qualified for this weekend’s PGA John Deere Classic in Silvis.

Knoll, who’ll be an Iowa sophomore in the fall, was a frequent contemporary of Fazio and several other Chronicle-area athletes in past summer IJGA and CDGA events.

One of them, Wheaton Academy graduate Blake Biddle of St. Charles, informed Fazio of Knoll’s feat during a round early this week.

“That’s pretty awesome, you know,” Fazio said. “I’ve heard that he’s just been doing really well out in the college circuit as well as now the John Deere Classic.”

• Kevin Druley is a sportswriter for the Kane County Chronicle. He can be reached at 630-845-5347 or kdruley@shawmedia.com. Follow him on Twitter at @kevindruley.

CHIP-INS

STC Men’s tourney seeking numbers

The St. Charles Men’s Tournament stood at slightly more than half of full capacity as of Thursday afternoon, with Pottawatomie Golf Course assistant pro Bill Ogiego reporting 49 entries. The event, which implemented a series of changes for 2014, can accommodate a 96-player field.

The deadline to register is 7 p.m. Sunday. Players must sign up a the Pottawatomie pro shop.

Two-time defending champion Matt Daly is among the returners, and his challengers include six-time men’s champion Rich Balla and two-time champ Randy Spring.

Citing a steady decline in participation, Ogiego and club pro Ron Skubisz moved the tournament from a three-weekend format to two, eliminating qualifying and opening the event to those from outside St. Charles. Players must have a CDGA or USGA handicap, which determines flighting.

The match play tournament begins July 19 and concludes the following weekend, July 26 and 27.

“We knew with the changes being made this year, it would take a while for the players to adjust, but the buzz around the pro shop about the tournament this year has been encouraging,” Ogiego wrote in an email. “We are just looking to put on the best event we can for the community.”

Kaligian memorial Saturday

Ray Kaligian III still holds Geneva’s boys school record for lowest nine-hole score. The late former Viking once shot a 32 at Mill Creek, where on Saturday his family and friends will gather for the inaugural golf tournament in his honor, an 18-hole scramble beginning at 1 p.m.

Kaligian died from carbon monoxide poisoning in his Houston home in February 2013, with his dog, Willie, at his side. Stories recalling all aspects of his life have been shared many times since, and figure to form a backbone of this event and those to come.

“You learn so much about somebody after they pass,” said tournament organizer Bryan Knapp, Kaligian’s longtime friend and former teammate. “Some of the stories I’ve heard about Ray over the last year or two really reinforce what kind of guy he was.”

– Kevin Druley, kdruley@shawmedia.com

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