In less than three weeks, the best women’s amateur players in the world will be teeing it up at Rolling Green Golf Club in the U.S. Women’s Amateur.
But Monday the stage belonged to teams of the area’s top junior golfers as they competed in the Golf Association of Philadelphia’s 31st Francis X. Hussey Memorial, a rite of summer at Rolling Green in Springfield, Delaware County.
The 6,371-yard, par-71 Rolling Green layout is classic William Flynn design, so it shouldn’t be a surprise that a couple of youngsters who learned the game on another classic Flynn in suburban Philadelphia, Huntingdon Valley Country Club, would take the Hussey title.
Daniel Galbreath, a senior at Lower Moreland, and Matthew Acker, a junior at La Salle, teamed up to card a better-ball total of 4-under 67 to finish a shot ahead of three teams and capture the Junior Boys’ division.
“We went out there trying to make birdies,” Galbreath told the GAP website. “We didn’t make as many as we wanted to on the back nine, but we wanted to try and stay bogey-free.”
They arrived at the 517-yard, par-5 finishing hole at Rolling Green at 3-under with two teams already in at 3-under. They needed a birdie.
It appeared it might come from Acker as he split the fairway and then reached the front of the green in two with a 3-wood. Galbreath, meanwhile, went from a fairway bunker to the trees on the left side of the hole. A punched 8-iron left him with a 30-foot downhill putt on one of Rolling Green’s notoriously fast greens.
Acker’s eagle try left him 15 feet short of the cup, but Galbreath then drained his putt to give them the birdie that gave them the victory.
Three teams ended up in a tie for second at 3-under 68.
One of those teams included two of the top players in the Inter-Ac League last fall, recent Haverford School graduate Max Siegfried, the 2015 GAP Junior Player of the Year, and Malvern Prep junior Matthew Davis, both products of a very strong Aronimink Golf Club junior program.
Another team that came in a 3-under included a couple of Inter-Ac stars of the future, Aronimink’s Case Hummer and Applecross Country Club’s Jacob Zeng, both freshmen at Episcopal Academy. David Robbins of Jericho National Golf Club and Greg DeLuca of Makefield Highlands Golf Club rounded out the trio of teams tied for second.
Kevin Caverly of Brookside Country Club of Allentown and Max Harrington of Moselem Springs Golf Club also broke par, taking fifth place with a 2-under 69.
Hugh Farris of Huntingdon Valley and Eric Carlidge of North Hills Country Club matched par with a 71 to finish alone in sixth place.
Joseph Morganti of Llanerch Country Club and Nicholas Hano III of Aronimink and Doug Ergood and Finn McGarry of Tavistock Country Club finished in a tie for seventh, each team posting a 1-over 72.
The Junior Girls’ division title went to Grace Simenson of RiverCrest Golf Club & Preserve and Carly Dorminy of Bellewood Country Club, who teamed up for a 7-over 78. Rose Witt and Catherine Dare of Riverton Country Club finished second with a 92.
The Flynn factor also seemed to be in effect in the Junior-Junior Boys’ division as the Huntingdon Valley pair of Brett McGrath and Patrick Isztwan were the runaway winners with a sparkling 1-under 35.
McGrath, an eighth-grader at Academy of the New Church, hit a pitching wedge to three feet at the 138-yard, par-3 third hole and converted the birdie try and he and Isztwan, an eighth-grader at Penn Charter, parred the rest of the holes.
“We were just solid,” Isztwan told the GAP website. “We hit greens and two-putted. We really didn’t make any mistakes.”
Nathan Guertler and Matthew Macbride of Laurel Creek Country Club finished nine shots back in second with a 44.
A couple of Aronimink duos – Nicholas Ciocca and Jack Davis and Chase Stephano and McClain Bradley – and the Rolling Green pair of Liam Buckley and Ryan Garvey finished in a tie for third at 45.
Only one team teed it up in the Junior-Junior Girls’ division and Kathleen Mark of Rolling Green and Lauren Jones of Merion Golf Club took the title with an impressive 2-over 38.
Francis X. Hussey, the tournament’s namesake, was a junior member at Rolling Green who suffered from congenital heart disease and died at age 13 in December of 1983 while undergoing heart surgery. A student in the Haverford Township School District, Hussey was a sports fan and an active junior member at Rolling Green.