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Friday, October 2, 2015

Rackley racks up another win at Shawnee Open

   Gulph Mills Golf Club assistant pro Josh Rackley has been the Philadelphia Section PGA’s most consistent player in 2015 and he was at it Tuesday, capturing the title at the Shawnee Open, an event that, while not always a Philly PGA event, dates back to 1912.
   The event was played at the Shawnee Resort’s newest course, the Great Bear Golf Club, and Radnor Valley Country Club head pro George Forster, at 59 years young still one of the top players in the section, had the best round among the early finishers, a 4-under 67.
   Rackley opened his round with a double bogey and then rattled off six birdies in the final 17 holes to join Forster with a 67. Then Bob Hennefer of Indian Spring Country Club, playing in the last group of the day, made birdie on the 18th hole to make it a three-man playoff for the title.
   Rackley and Hennefer made birdie on the first playoff hole with Forster falling out of contention. Following a 30-minute rain delay, Rackley had a two-putt birdie after reaching the par-5 eighth hole in two to capture the crown.
   Recently crowned Pennsylvania Open champion Billy Stewart, an assistant pro at the ACE Club, was in a large group of players tied for sixth at 2-under 69.
   Rolling Green Golf Club’s Frank Palumbo finished in a tie for 29th with a 75 and The Springhaven Club’s Gregg Gipp was tied for 38th with a 77.
   Some of the Philadelphia Section PGA’s top players claimed a 14.5-3.5 victory over a group of the Golf Association of Philadelphia’s top players in the 25th edition of the Philadelphia Challenge matches Thursday at Applebrook Golf Club.
   There was a pretty interesting matchup in a senior match between Radnor Valley’s Forster, who’s tuning up for a trip to California and the PGA Senior Professional National Championship later this month, and Overbrook Golf Club’s Ray Thompson, fresh off a run to the second round of match play at the U.S. Senior Amateur at Hidden Creek Golf Club.
   Forget the senior tag, these two guys are two of the best players in the area, period. Forster claimed a 5 and 4 victory and teamed up with Brian Kelly, the head pro at Bucknell’s course, to beat Thompson and David West of Whitford Country Club, 2 and 1, in a four-ball match.
   Recently crowned Philadelphia Section PGA champion Dave McNabb,  the head pro at Applebrook, claimed a 6 and 5 win over Ben Smith of Huntingdon Valley Country Club and teamed with Carson Solien, an assistant at Aronimink Golf Club, to defeat Smith and Overbrook Golf Club’s Chris Lange Jr., 4 and 3 in their four-ball match. Solien downed Lange, 4 and 3, in their singles match.
   The ACE Club’s Stewart earned a 1-up decision over Michael Johnson of Commonwealth National Country Club and teamed with Dave Quinn of The Links Country Club to beat Johnson and Scott McNeil of Bala Golf Club, 1-up.
   The Philadelphia Section PGA owns a 19-2 lead and there have been four ties in the series. Robin McCool, who played a big role in getting the Challenge Matches started, was the honorary captain for Team GAP.

Shattuck hopes to take next step

   Braden Shattuck, the 2011-2012 Daily Times Player of the Year at Sun Valley, will try to take the next step in his bid to make it to the Web.com Tour when he tees it up in a first-stage qualifying event beginning Tuesday at the Grasslands Golf & Country Club in Lakeland, Fla. The 72-hole tournament is one of 11 first-stage events around the country.
   Shattuck reached the first stage by getting through a pre-qualifying event at Wilderness Ridge Golf Club in Lincoln, Neb. He had rounds of 76, 70 and 73 for a 6-over 219 total that left him in a tie for 32nd.
   The second stage of qualifying is in November at five sites around the country.

Lutz gets the job done

   By now, you may have heard that Chip Lutz added a U.S. Senior Amateur Championship to the two senior amateur crowns each he already owned in Great Britain and Canada with a surgical 5 and 3 victory over Tom Brandes of Bellevue, Wash. in rainy conditions Thursday at Hidden Creek Golf Club in Egg Harbor Township, N.J.
   With his 89-year-old mother Janet watching him in competition for the first time, the 60-year-old Reading resident birdied the first hole and was never headed. Brandes won the fifth hole with a birdie to cut Lutz’s advantage to 1-up, but the reigning five-time Golf Association of Philadelphia Senior Player of the Year, quickly restored his 2-up edge by winning the sixth hole with a par.
   Lutz stretched his advantage to 4-up with wins at the 11th and 13th holes and finished the job with a par at the 15th.
   It was a fitting conclusion to an event that saw eight GAP players qualify for match play and Lutz, the best of a very strong group of senior players from this area, finally emerge with the title after reaching the semifinals three times previously, but never making the final.
   I had always heard that Chip had brothers named Putter and Wedge and was starting to wonder if maybe it was just one of those stories you hear, but the story on the USGA website about Lutz’s mother coming to watch the final said she was accompanied to the shore by her son Putter and his wife Kim. So there you go. Guess you’d have to say they take their golf seriously in the Lutz family.

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