By Paul Sokoloski
EXETER — College golf got to be too much of a grind for Mariano Medico.
So the former Holy Redeemer phenom is giving up golfing for school, and will be left with events like this weekend’s Allan Tournament to fulfill his passion for the sport.
Mariano and his brother Larry Medico didn’t fare so well while teaming up Friday, shooting a 4-over par 75 on the opening day of the Allan.
But for Mariano Medico, it’s more about staying sharp in tournament competition than winning amateur titles or trudging through college courses - in class and on fairways, both in the same day.
“I love this game,” he said. “I’m still going to be doing everything I usually do in the summer and even in the fall - club championships, big amateur tournaments.
“I’m just not going to be playing in college events.”
He’s not even going to attend the same college next year.
After spending his freshman season golfing for Division I Monmouth, Medico is transferring to Syracuse to concentrate exclusively on his studies while leaving his participation in college sports in the past.
“There’s a good economics program at Syracuse,” Medico said. “It was a very difficult decision to stop playing college golf. I thought about it for six months. It just sort of turned into a job for me. I love having fun. It felt like a job. I didn’t enjoy it like I thought I would. It was a six-month process for me to think about what I wanted to do with the rest of my life. I’m trying to be as smart as possible, be wise.”
The move will mark the first time in five years that Medico and his close friend Chase Makowski won’t be teammates, after the pair teamed to take Holy Redeemer to the 2013 PIAA Class 2A state golf title before both golfed for Monmouth as freshmen.
“I really did enjoy it,” Medico said. “Chase and I, we had a blast. We’re always going to be best friends. It just wasn’t for me. College golf is for some people, and it’s not for others. It just wasn’t for me. I was one of them that felt like this wasn’t for me, to play college golf.”
That doesn’t mean Medico, the Times Leader Golfer of the Year in 2013 and a two-time Northeast Amateur champion, is closing the book on his dream of someday turning pro.
“I’m definitely leaving that option open,” Medico said. “I’ve said that it’s my belief that for somebody to reach their potential in this game, you have to dedicate all your time to it. I need to be out on the golf course eight, 10 hours a day. When you go to school, you don’t have the time to practice and play as much as you need to.
“If I’m going to do anything with this game, it’s going to be after school.”
He was disappointed the Medico brothers couldn’t do more on the Fox Hill Country Club course to make more of an impact on the opening day of play in the Allan’s championship flight.
Instead, they fell nine strokes behind the day’s leaders, John and Zach Mulhern, who blistered the course with a five-under 66. They’re just ahead of Robert Gill and Brian Corbett, who finished the first day of play shooting 67, and three other teams tied at 68.
“Oh, not good,” Medico said of his team’s first day of play. “It was really a struggle out there. It was an equal share of dragging down. We both just put a lot of bad swings on the golf balls. There’s no excuse for the way I played today. I’m supposed to be able to pick my brother up, I play out here every day. Just not good golf out there.
“That’s not how I should be playing.”
It seemed putting was the major problem for the duo, as dropping the ball in from the green proved a perplexing problem for both right after they began play on the back nine.
“Actually, I thought I was going to have a good day,” Larry said. “On 10, I had a nice 10-footer. I didn’t make another putt after that.”
Still, Larry isn’t about to putt away the team’s chances of working back into contention - even as Mariano down-played that possibility as a stretch.
“He doesn’t think there’s much of a shot. I think there is,” Larry said. “I definitely do. As badly as we played (Friday), we can play great (today) and be right in it. That’s why it’s called a tournament.
“That’s why it’s three days.”
Paul Sokoloski may be reached at 570-970-7109 or on Twitter @TLPaulSokoloski