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Men's Golf

Navy Captures Star with Playoff Victory

ANNAPOLIS, Md. - In one of the most exciting conclusions to an  Army-Navy men's golf Star Match, Navy's Nicholas Klock sank a four-foot putt for par on the first playoff hole to lead the Midshipmen to a sudden death victory over their archrivals Sunday afternoon at the Naval Academy Golf Club in Annapolis. The win was Navy's first in the series since capturing a 6-5 win at West Point in 2016. Meanwhile, it was Navy's first Star victory in the annual Army-Navy Star Series presented by USAA.

Navy held a one-point advantage (5.5-4.5) heading into the 18th hole of the final singles match when Army's Marshall Daniel, who overcame a 2-stroke deficit with four holes to go, sank his putt to win the hole and individual match to force the playoff.

Pat Owen, who was directing the Mids in his 32nd Army-Navy Star Match, called upon Klock, a veteran player for Navy who paired up with Chad Deegan to win their four-ball match on Saturday and came back to route sophomore Lake Kim 6 & 5 earlier in the day on Sunday. Meanwhile, Army head coach Chad Bagley looked to his No. 1 player and team captain Tom Katsenes, who had earlier halved his point against Navy's Keegan Shreves, a 2021 First-Team All-Patriot League standout.

Surrounded by the gallery of Army and Navy golfers, friends and family, the two golfers made their way to hole No. 1 where they would begin the playoff. Katsenes and Klock both had solid hits off the tee, driving the ball to the center of the fairway. Katsenes' second shot drifted over the green, while Klock's shot landed just on the fringe of the green to the far right, opposite of the hole. Katsenes overshot the hole once again and his third shot would scoot off the green, while Klock set up his match-winning shot by rolling the ball to within three feet. Faced with a difficult shot, Katsenes failed to chip the ball in, while Klock answered by lining up his shot and calmly walking up to the ball and securing the win for the Mids.

"Nick is a big-time pressure player, he thrives in that environment," said Owen. "Nick approached me right before the playoff hole and said, 'No matter what the result of this playoff is, I will always remember you and Coach Burke putting your faith in me.'"

"It's everything," Klock said about celebrating with his teammates. "It was three years of really hard work, not just by me, but the entire team."

It was a particularly emotional moment for Klock, who fought back tears of joy from helping lead his teammates to a Star victory, but also doing so with one of his two parents in attendance (his father, Jonathan, passed away unexpectedly in the spring).

"It was the first time my mom had ever seen me play in a college golf match, so that was special," said Klock. "When I made the putt, the first thing I thought about was him (his dad). I knew he was watching."

Eerily similar to the last time the two programs played to a sudden death decision in 2008 (won by Navy, Ryan Wielgus won the playoff), Navy entered Sunday's singles competition facing a one-point deficit after Army won two of the four four-ball matches and halved a third to take a 2.5-1.5 advantage after the opening day.

Owen assembled a lineup that featured just four players who had previous experience in the Star Match, while sending Navy's Noah Nuez, Benjamin Valdez and Andrew Wilkinson onto the course for their first taste of the fierce rivalry.

Shreves gave the Mids an important half point in the day's first match against Katsenes before Navy leveled the match when Wilkinson, whose older brother Ward was a four-year golf letter winner for the Mids, cruised past junior Samuel Kim 5 & 4 for the victory.

The Mids secured victories by Klock and his classmate David Miccoli  in back-to-back matches to take a 5-3 lead. Miccoli, who did not play in Saturday's four-ball matches, put together a strong performance that culminated with him winning the point on the 18th hole against junior Gary Bullard.

Nuez, who paired up with Valdez on Saturday and picked up a valuable half point in their four-ball match, once again came up big by halving his singles match against junior Dragon Theam.

Navy returns to tournament play when it travels to Hampden, Mass. to compete in the UConn Invitational at Greathorse. The three-day, 54-hole tournament is slated to begin next Sunday.

Navy 5.5, Army 5.5
Navy Wins In A Playoff
Playoff: Nicholas Klock (N) def. Tom Katsenes, 1-up

Four-Ball Matches (Army 2.5, Navy 1.5)
Nicholas Klock-Chad Deegan (N) def. Dragon Theam-Joshua Kim, 3 & 1
Saumuel Kim-Lake Kim def. Keegan Shreves-Andrew Wilkinson (N), 1-up
Tom Katsenes-Gary Bullard v. Ben Burton-Braxton Tracy (N), 5 & 3
Noah Nuez-Benjamin Valdez (N) halved Marshall Daniel-John Heckel Jr.

Singles Matches (Navy 4.0, Army 3.0)
Keegan Shreves (N) halved Tom Katsenes
David Miccoli (N) def. Gary Bullard, 1-up
Noah Nuez (N) halved Dragon Theam
Andrew Wilkinson (N) def. Samuel Kim, 5 & 4
John Heckel Jr. def. Benjamin Valdez (N), 4 & 2
Nicholas Klock (N) def. Lake Kim, 6 & 5
Marshall Daniel def. Chad Deegan (N), 1-up