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Delio the Matador

• Saugus grad gunning for U.S. Amateur, top CS Northridge golfer

Posted: June 28, 2008 3:56 a.m.
Updated: August 29, 2008 5:03 a.m.

Nick Delio takes a few practice shots out of the bunker on Thursday at Valencia Country Club.

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Nick Delio is aiming for a shot at playing in the U.S. Amateur Golf Championship.

On Aug. 5 at Crystalaire Country Club in Llano, Delio will take his golf clubs and attempt to finish with one of the lowest 64 scores out of 312 golfers after the first two rounds.

In order to qualify for the U.S. Amateurs, Delio must win at least six matches in the U.S. Amateur Sectional qualifier.

"It is tough," Delio said Thursday at Valencia Country Club. "I'm stil striving for bigger and better things."

As of Thursday, Delio did not know what exemptions he earned, which are plenty.

The win gave Delio an invitation into the Pacific Coast Amateur in August at Royal Colwood Golf Course in Victoria, British Columbia, in Canada. He had already qualified for the 109th SCGA Amateur Championship, which will be played July 18-20 at Saticoy Country Club in Somis. He also receives a lifetime exemption into future California Amateur Championships.

If the Saugus graduate qualifies for the USAGC, he would get to play in Pinehurst, N.C. In 2007, Delio was named the Foothill League MVP.

The 18-year-old wrapped up the first year of his adulthood - he turns 19 on Aug. 28 - with a victory in the California Amateur Championship.

In his first attempt in the CAC on Saturday, Delio beat 15-year-old Austin Roberts in 36-hole match play, 7 and 5. Before the tournament, Delio was a first alternate. But due to an injury to another player, he was able to play and made the most of it.

Playing at Lakeside Golf Course in Burbank didn't exactly hurt, either. That is where Cal State Northridge, where Delio was the No. 1 golfer as a freshman last season, plays its home matches.

"It was a little bit of an advantage," Delio said. "But you still have to execute. UCLA also plays their home matches on that course. They didn't win."

Delio had some admiration for Roberts, who finished his freshman year at Waldorf High School in Sacramento.

"He's exteremely mature for a 15-year-old," Delio said. "He's got a bright opposite future ahead of him. There were about 30 or 40 people watching him, and he handled it well, which is pretty amazing. Overall, I think I hit more quality shots. There was a seven-hole stretch where I hit 7-under. I think driving was the key. I would drive onto fairways, and I hit only wedges onto the greens."

Delio set the single-season record for Cal State Northridge, with a scoring average of 71.9. He was named the Big West Conference freshman of the year.

"I didn't feel any pressure," Delio said. "If you work hard on driving range, work hard on the greens, the results will come."

Dominic's father, Dominic, and his mother, Gerry, watched their son win the CAC in Burbank.

"He was a big part of me learning the game," Nick Delio said. "They were happy for me. I give the credit to them. They sacrifice a lot for me in playing in these tournaments."

Delio was awarded a gold medal and had his name carved into a silver trophy that is nearly 100 years old.

Delio. who likes to hit the gym, swim and play softball, has a goal to make it to the professional golfing ranks.

"I know I have the potential to play in the pros," Delio said. "That's the whole goal in three or four years. But I know I have to work hard at it and get better."

Delio chose to become a Matador above offers from Long Beach State and Loyola Maramount. Proximity was the key.

"I chose Northridge because it's local," Delio said. "I can practice here (in Valencia) and we have great facilities."

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