Pretty good day, as you might expect, for the Cricket Club guys. Pretty good day for the Temple guys. And some of the guys who already have their name on the J. Wood Platt Trophy, well some of them are still around, too.
After a long day with temperatures hovering in the mid-90s on two really tough golf courses Tuesday, the field of competitors in the BMW Philadelphia Amateur Championship was whittled to just 32 who will go at it in match play first thing Wednesday morning.
At the top of the qualifying heap was John Brennan, the Spring-Ford High social studies teacher who is part of the deep stable of talent at Philadelphia Cricket Club. He got around the Cricket Club’s two courses in 4-under 138 to earn medalist honors by three shots.
Brennan carded a brilliant 4-under-par 66 on the Wissahickion Course, the A.W. Tillinghast gem that the very best senior pros couldn’t break par on for four rounds in the Constellation Senior Players Championship at this time last year. He added an even-par 72 on the Militia Hill Course.
Brennan’s Wissahickon round featured seven birdies, five of them coming in a six-hole stretch of the front nine. He made birdies at four, five, seven, eight and nine around a bogey at the sixth. He also birdied the first hole, giving him a front-nine total of 5-under 30. That’s playing.
Not sure if he started on one or 10, but he a double bogey at the tough 18th at the Wissahickon Course was a slight blemish on an otherwise spectacular round.
Three other Cricket Club members, two of whom also fall into that category of former Philly Am champions, finished among the top 10 in qualifying.
Conrad Von Borsig, the 2009 champion at Stonewall, finished tied for sixth with a 3-over 73 at Wissahickon and a 1-under 71 at Militia Hill for a 2-over 144 total.
Two other Cricket Club members were among a group of eight players tied for eighth at 3-over 145. Cole Berman, the Philly Am champion two years ago at Llanerch, had a 2-over 72 at Wissahickon and a 1-over 73 at Militia Hill. I watched him win the 2011 Inter-Ac League title at the Militia Hill Course as a sophomore at The Haverford School in my Delco Daily Times days. The Cricket Club’s Gregor Orlando fired a sparkling 3-under 69 at Militia Hill and added a 76 at Wissahickon to join Berman in the group at 145.
The runnerup to Brennan was Nathan Sutherland of LedgeRock Golf Club, who had a 2-under 70 at Militia Hill and a 1-over 71 at Wissahickon for a 1-under 141 total. He is the only other player besides Brennan to finish the grueling day under par.
Aaron Fricke, a Lancaster Country Club member coming off a solid junior year at Drexel, finished alone in third at even-par 142. The Garden Spot product opened with a 4-under 68 at Militia Hill and added a 4-over 74 at Wissahickon.
Leading the Temple contingent was Malvern Prep product Marty McGuckin, playing out of RiverCrest Golf Club & Preserve. McGuckin, who was the Golf Association of Philadelphia Junior Player of the Year in 2016, got it going in the afternoon in a 4-under 68 at Militia Hill after opening with a 75 at Wissahickon to finish tied for sixth at 1-over 143.
He was joined at that figure by Bala Golf Club’s Scott McNeil, who had steady rounds of 2-over 72 at Wissahickon and 1-under 71 at Militia Hill.
Another Owl, Glenmaura National Golf Club’s John Barone, was in that large group tied for eighth at 145. Coming off a solid sophomore season for Brian Quinn’s team, Barone had a 3-over 75 at Militia Hill and matched par at Wissahickon with a 70.
Another Temple sophomore, Sam Soeth, a scholastic standout at Marple Newtown, was in a group tied for 18th at 5-over 147. Soeth, playing out of White Manor Country Club, opened with a strong 1-under 69 at Wissahickon and added a 78 at Militia Hill.
Huntingdon Valley Country Club’s Jeff Osberg ended up in that group tied for eighth at 3-over 145. The 2014 champion at White Manor, Osberg, opened with a 1-over 71 at Wissahickon and added a 2-over 74 in the afternoon at Militia Hill.
A year ago, Osberg was a tough-luck loser to his friend and rival, Michael McDermott, in a classic final at a classic golf course, Merion Golf Club’s East Course. In the GAP majors since then, he won the Philadelphia Open at The Ridge at Back Brook, won the Patterson Cup at Huntingdon Valley and finished second in the Middle-Amateur Championship at Overbrook Golf Club last month. You get the picture. He’s good at golf.
As for McDermott, whose victory at his home course last year was his third Philly Am title, he’s in. Playing with Berman and Osberg, McDermott carded a 2-over 72 at Wissahickon in the morning and a 2-over 74 at Militia Hill to finish tieed for 16th at 4-over 146.
He’ll face another Merion member, Peter Bradbeer, coming off a solid freshman season at Bucknell, in an opening-round match Wednesday. Bradbeer matched McDermott’s 146 total with a 2-under 70 at Militia Hill and a 6-over 76 at Wissahickon.
One more former champion also made it into match play as Brian Gillespie of St. Davids Golf Club joined Soeth in the group tied for 18th at 147.
The long day ended with a little playoff for the final three spots in match play among six players who came in at 8-over 150. The survivors were Lu Lu Country Club’s Jack Melville, the former Upper Dublin standout who is a sophomore on the Delaware golf team, Commonwealth National Golf Club’s Brian Fischer and French Creek Golf Club’s Matthew Smith.
By the way, all four of the GAP players who made it to match play at the U.S. Mid-Amateur Championship at Stonewall late last summer all made match play Tuesday. That group included Brennan, Orlando, McDermott and Yardley Country Club’s Christopher Ault, who finished tied for 22nd at 148.
Sutherland lost out in a playoff for match play at Stonewall and Saucon Valley Country’s Matthew Mattare, who was one of the casualties of Tuesday’s playoff for match play, also failed to advance from the playoff at Stonewall, which was 14 players going for just one spot.
Tough golf courses always bring out the best in the best, most experienced players. It happened again Tuesday.