This year saw the debut, for both men and women, of the U.S. Amateur Four-Ball Championship.
And around these parts, you could immediately see what could happen when a couple of golfing buddies, in this case Radnor’s Brynn Walker and Council Rock North’s Madelein Herr, both juniors, get together and get on a roll. The Walker-Herr teamed reached the semifinals of the first women’s Four-Ball last May. The team chemistry of a couple of friends was evident.
Tuesday at Whitemarsh Valley Country Club a couple of golfing buddies, Bryn Mawr residents Michael McDermott and Jeff Osberg, the two best mid-amateurs in the Golf Association of Philadelphia for the better part of the last decade, decided to give it a go in a local qualifier for the men’s Four-Ball, which will be held next May at the famed Winged Foot Golf Club in Mamaroneck, N.Y.
McDermott grew up playing at Llanerch Country Club and Osberg was a member there for several years. When the two bombers met in the second round of the Philadelphia Amateur this summer at Llanerch – McDermott eventually knocking off the defending champion – it was one of the most highly anticipated Philly Am matches in recent memory.
The results in the Four-Ball qualifier were predictable enough as the 40-year-old McDermott, a member at Merion Golf Club, and the 31-year-old Osberg, a member at Huntingdon Valley Country Club, blitzed the 6,872-yard, par-72 Whitemarsh Valley layout with a 6-under 66 to claim medalist honors.
A couple of other longtime golf buddies, David Liotta of West Chester and P. Chet Walsh of Wayne, grabbed the other qualifying berth with a 4-under 68.
Larry Benedetto of West Chester and Doug Fedoryshyn, a Malvern resident and Concord Country Club member, and Brian Gillespie of Newtown Square and Michael Hyland of Medford, N.J. are the alternates after both teams carded 3-under 69s.
Osberg held off McDermott this summer to claim the William Hyndman III Award that goes to the GAP Player of the Year for the first time. McDermott has won the award five times.
“If you can’t beat him, join him,” McDermott told the GAP website. “I called Jeff (Monday night) and we talked about (what it would be like). I actually approached it like I was playing against Jeff. He didn’t start off great and I joked with him at the sixth hole and said, ‘I’m 1-up.’ Generally this summer, if I played against Jeff and stayed close, I was doing OK.”
After a so-so start, the bash brothers heated up on the back nine at Whitemarsh Valley, which, once upon a time, was the site of the PGA Tour stop in Philadelphia. McDermott won the first of his two Philadelphia Amateur titles at Whitemarsh Valley in 2008.
Osberg’s wedge from just 55 yards away at the par-4 10th left him with a five-foot birdie putt that he drained. He then smashed a 3-wood into a greenside bunker at the par-5 11th and got it up and down for a birdie.
Osberg needed just an 8-iron to reach the 488-yard par-5 17th green in two and he dropped in a 10-footer for eagle. McDermott finished off the round by holing a clutch 12-foot par putt at the 18th.
“It’s definitely something that’s cool to look forward to over the winter,” Osberg said. “It’ll motivate us pretty hard in April to get the clubs out and to get our games in shape to compete with the rest of the country.”
Their length and experience in USGA events – and their friendship -- will make them a very formidable team. Very formidable.
Brennan the champion of Champions
It’s not easy to win a club championship at Philadelphia Cricket Club, which won the GAP team matches for the second time in three years last spring.
So, it’s not surprising that the Cricket Club club champion, John Brennan, who teaches social studies at Spring-Ford High School, would emerge as the winner in GAP’s Tournament of Champions Wednesday at The Springhaven Club.
Brennan toured the 6,374-yard, par-70 William Flynn design in 3-under 67 to beat Green Valley Country Club club champ Ben Feld by a shot.
“I told my wife that I may never get a chance to play again in the (Tournament of Champions), so I had to get out here today,” Brennan told the GAP website. “With so many great players at Philly Cricket, I’m not sure if I would have ever gotten another chance. It’s a big deal to win a club championship at the Cricket Club, so the fact that I won (the TOC) makes it mean that much more to me.”
Among some of the club champions from Delco clubs who teed it up, Rolling Green Golf Club’s Zachary Falone had a 73, Paxon Hollow Country Club’s Michael Shevlin Sr. had a 74 and Springhaven’s Rich Thon, playing on his home track, had a 76.
Joseph Russo of Laurel Creek Country Club bested the field of senior club champions with a sparkling 5-under 65 and Ed Chylinski of Chester Valley Golf Club took super-senior honors with a 78.