Aug. 19, 2010
BALTIMORE - The Loyola University Maryland men's golf program will have two rooting interests at next week's 2010 United States Amateur Championship, as Head Coach Chris Baloga and former Greyhound Michael Mulieri will head to University Place, Wash., to take aim at one of the country's oldest and most prestigious tournaments.
Both Baloga and Mulieri enter the tournament for the first time bringing impressive sets of credentials. Mulieri compiled numerous awards during his time at Loyola en route to two Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference championships. Mulieri earned two MAAC Golfer of the Year distinctions, was named 2007-2008 MAAC Student-Athlete of the Year and won the Maryland State Amateur in 2008.
Baloga, currently second in the Maryland Player of the Year rankings, captured the WACO Championship at Beaver Creek Country Club in Hagerstown last Sunday. He will play in the Maryland Mid-Amateur Championship this week before heading to Washington.
An accomplished amateur golfer and current head coach, Baloga isn't worried about playing against over 300 golfers in an event that dates back to 1895 and counts Jack Nicklaus, Bobby Jones and Tiger Woods among its past winners.Baloga will hit the course just a few weeks after taking over the men's golf team at Loyola. While most could consider starting a new job distracting, Baloga says his new head coaching position may help him.
"With most tournaments there's some kind of pressure," Baloga said. "But now, I have a great job with a great team. I have no reason to be nervous. I'm just looking to have fun."
Tacoma-area course Chambers Bay will host the event. Chambers Bay, opened in 2007, offers a different style of course compared to what Loyola golfers typically encounter in the eastern United States.
"There's no course around here like it. It's exciting," said Baloga. "The course out there is almost a British links-style course. A lot of courses around here are tree-lined, but Chambers Bay is made for wind. I'm not a high-ball hitter, though, so the wind shouldn't really affect me."
The tournament starts with two rounds of stroke play on Monday, August 23, and Tuesday, August 24. The top 64 then move on to seeded match play. A total of six Maryland players will compete at the Amateur, and with Michael Mulieri and Baloga playing in the same event, anyone could meet when the tournament shifts to head-to-head.
"It would be great to meet Mike in match play, because it would mean one of us would advance further," Baloga said. "If I'm not playing, I want to be able to root for someone I know."
Mulieri tees off on Monday at 4:10 p.m. EDT and returns on Tuesday at 10:55 a.m. Baloga tees off at 10:25 a.m. on Monday before Tuesday's tee time of 3:40 p.m. Feeling little pressure, Baloga will enter Monday's play with high hopes.
"I've been playing well all summer," Baloga said. "If I keep playing like this next week, hopefully I'll make it to match play."