The Philadelphia Section PGA pros dominated the better-ball matches to claim an 11.5-6.5 victory over the Golf Association of Philadelphia in the 26th Philadelphia Challenge Matches held Thursday at Saucon Valley Country Club’s Grace Course.
Team GAP battled the Philadelphia Section pros to a 6-6 standoff in the 12 singles matches, but the pros used a 5.5-.5 advantage in the better-ball matches to cruise to the victory, giving them a 20-2-4 lead in the all-time series.
In the singles matches, the Philadelphia Section pros got victories from William Sautter of Philadelphia Cricket Club in a senior match, Whitford Country Club assistant pro Andrew Turner, Stuart Ingraham, the head of instruction at the M Golf Range in Newtown Square, Overbrook Golf Club head pro Eric Kennedy and Curtis Kirkpatrick of Indian Springs Country Club.
In the other senior singles match Wildwood Golf & Country Club pro John Appleget halved with Team GAP’s Glenn Smeraglio of LuLu Country Club and Tavistock Country Club pro Greg Mathias battled Benjamin Smith of Huntingdon Valley Country Club to a draw.
Turner claimed a 3 and 2 victory over Christopher Crawford of Spring Mill Country Club. Both players were among the U.S. Open hopefuls who teed it up in a sectional qualifier at Canoe Brook Country Club in Summit, N.J. in June. Crawford rolled in a 40-footer for birdie on the 18th hole at Canoe Brook’s North Course to quite dramatically punch his ticket to Oakmont Country Club while Turner made a strong bid, but came up just short.
Crawford had just completed the best career in the history of the Drexel golf program when he got through at Canoe Brook. Ben Feld, his coach at Drexel, was on the bag at Canoe Brook. Crawford is completing the last year of his five-year academic program and is helping out Feld as an assistant coach with the golf program.
Feld, who plays out of Green Valley Country Club, won his singles match, 2-up, over Dave Quinn of the Links Golf Club, but Team Drexel, Crawford and Feld, dropped a 5 and 3 decision in their better-ball match to Turner and Quinn.
Team GAP’s other singles winners were Philadelphia Cricket Club’s John Brennan, who qualified for match play at last month’s U.S. Mid-Amateur Championship at Stonewall, Du Pont Country Club’s Matthew Finger, Michael R. Brown Jr. of the Philadelphia Publinks Golf Association and Llanerch Country Club’s Stephen Seiden.
The senior better-ball match between Smeraglio and GAP Senior Amateur champion Randy Mitchell of Wilmington Country Club and Appleget and Sautter ended in a draw.
In addition to the win for Turner and Quinn over Crawford and Feld, the Philadelphia Section pros got better-ball victories from the duos of Ingraham and Kevin Kraft of the Bumble Bee Hollow Golf Center, Radnor Valley Country Club head pro George Forster and The Country Club of Harrisburg’s Steve Swartz, Kennedy and Mathias, and the Indian Springs pair of Kirkpatrick and Bob Henefer.
Robin McCool originated the idea of the Challenge Matches and was on hand as this year’s edition was played at his home course of Saucon Valley. McCool acted as Team GAP’s captain.