Vince Covello will take advantage of any reason to come back to the Philadelphia area where he grew up, especially if it means taking part in a local qualifying event for the U.S. Open.
When he does that, the results usually are favorable. Covello, 35, a member of the Web.com Tour, posted the lowest score, a 4-under-par 67, Monday at Hidden Creek Golf Club in Egg Harbor Township, N.J., to advance to the June 4 sectional qualifying stage.
Covello figures it’s the third time in the last four years, and the sixth time overall, that he has come home and moved on past the first segment of qualifying for the Open, which will be held June 14-17 at Shinnecock Hills Golf Club on Long Island.
Covello was born in Springfield, Delaware County. He grew up in Haverford and attended Episcopal Academy before moving to Florida for his senior year of high school. He lives now in Jacksonville, Fla., but has family in Bryn Mawr and Havertown.
“Usually schedule-wise it works out where I have an off week on the Web.com Tour,” he said. “It gives me a chance to come home and see my brothers and sisters and stuff, and go back and play Llanerch Country Club where I grew up playing, and see some of my buddies from over there.”
“Obviously I grab a cheesesteak and some Wawa and some Philly pretzels and stuff like that. It’s always fun. It’s still home for me even though I’ve been gone for a long time. I left in 2000 but I still try to come back for this every year to get a taste of home.”
The home cooking appeared to help him Monday at Hidden Creek where he carded five birdies and one bogey with the help of fine iron play. He grabbed medalist honors on his last hole, the par-5 ninth, where he got up and down out of a greenside bunker for birdie.
Covello returns to the Web.com Tour this week in Knoxville, Tenn., the first of a five-week run. He is 91st on the tour’s money list but feels his tee-to-green game is solid, “so it’s just waiting for the putter to get hot and take advantage of it,” he said.
Four players from the 64-player field advanced to sectional qualifying. Joining Covello were Alexander Hicks of Cape May Court House with a 68 and Mark Miller of Conshohocken with a 71. Erik Brubaker of Delmar, Md., shot a 72 and won a three-man playoff to grab the final spot.