Gannon’s Michael Marsico relaxed heading into NCAA golf championships
Michael Marsico said he doesn’t feel much pressure going into his first NCAA Division II golf national championship this week, and he’s looking forward to enjoying the moment.
If he finds himself in a tense situation, though, he showed last weekend he can handle it.
Marsico, a Fox Chapel graduate and Gannon sophomore, was tied with St. Thomas Aquinas’ Travis Fay for the fourth and final qualifying spot entering the final round at the Atlantic Regional at Totteridge Golf Course last Saturday, and the two were paired together.
Marsico matched Fay shot for shot and finished one stroke ahead of him to advance.
The reward is getting to play with some of D-II’s top golfers when the championships start Monday at The Resort at Glade Springs in Daniels, W.Va.
“I’m not a well-known name across Division II golf, so I’m going to go in and play relaxed golf,” Marsico said. “It’s going to be fun, though. I’m looking forward to the experience and seeing what I’m made of going against some of the top amateur golfers in the country.”
As a first-time entrant, Marsico might be under the radar, but he earned his spot via an intense battle.
More often than not, collegiate golfers have to wait around in the clubhouse for scores to be posted to see where they stand, but Marsico sensed he needed to beat Fay to qualify.
They were tied through 15 holes, and Fay forged ahead by a shot with a birdie on 16. Marsico responded with a birdie on 17. On the final hole, Marsico said Fay drove his ball right of the fairway and had to pitch out of a bunker, but he stuck his third shot to within six feet of the pin.
Marsico hit a shot from the fairway onto the green and two-putted from 25 feet for par. Fay missed his par putt, giving Marsico the one-shot cushion he needed. Marsico shot a 1-over 73 in the final round and was 4-over for the tournament.
“You never know with golf because there are so many people playing, but I just had a feeling that I had to beat him to make it,” Marsico said. “It was nice to have him in my group to know what I needed to do. That was definitely the most pressure I’ve ever had in golf. It was neat.”
Marsico is the first Gannon golfer to make the D-II finals since Leechburg graduate Matt Barto in 2015.
Barto is now a volunteer assistant coach at Gannon and was there Saturday providing guidance.
“Matt and my head coach, Dustin Coleman, helped me on that back nine,” Marsico said. “We were kind of battling together. I was trying to get it in the hole with as few strokes as possible and make some birdies when I could. It was a fun experience.”
Marsico has some familiarity with The Resort at Glade Springs. Gannon played its regional event there last spring, and he has played in a couple of other tournaments at the facility. He planned to get a practice round in Sunday.
“It’s nice to go to a course that I’m familiar with,” Marsico said. “It’s pretty tough. I imagine that the greens will be firm and there will be some tough pin placements. We might not play from the back tees all three days, but the NCAA will have it set up pretty tough.”
This week is about enjoying the opportunity, which is what Marsico has tried to do more after having an epiphany of sorts after struggling at times as a freshman.
“I realized I’m pretty lucky to have the chance to play the game at the college level,” Marsico said. “I’ve relaxed and tried to enjoy the process of creating each shot. I’ve started to hit the ball better and putt better, too, which helps with the confidence in my game.”