It was a partnership born from illness and injury, but it proved to be a successful one as the Huntingdon Valley Country Club pair of Daniel Galbreath and Conor McGrath made yards of putts on Rolling Green Golf Club’s notoriously slick surfaces to cruise to a two-shot victory in the Golf Association of Philadelphia’s Francis X. Hussey Memorial Monday.
Galbreath, a recent Lower Moreland graduate, had every intention of defending the Hussey title with Matthew Acker, his partner in triumph a year ago, but Acker had surgery for an abscess and was sidelined. McGrath, a senior at the Academy of the New Church, planned to partner with Frankie Gregor, but Gregor broke a bone in his foot playing basketball.
So, the Huntingdon Valley clubmates got together and decided they would honor their sidelined pals by winning the Hussey, a better-ball-of-partners event, for them. It didn’t hurt that they’re pretty good buddies anyway.
“We know each other’s game so well,” Galbreath, who will study finance at Stetson University, told the GAP website. “I caddied for Conor in the (BMW Philadelphia) Amateur qualifier for 36 holes. I know how he hits the ball. I know how he putts. We play together all of the time, so he knows my game, too. We were able to help each other out all day.”
Galbreath and McGrath had a pair of eagles and four birdies against a lone bogey for a sparkling 7-under-par 64 over the 6,336-yard, par-71 Rolling Green layout, which like the winners’ home course at Huntingdon Valley, is a classic William Flynn design. Rolling Green was in the national spotlight in 2016 as the host of the U.S. Women’s Amateur.
It’s been a pretty good summer for McGrath. He claimed medalist honors in qualifying for the GAP Junior Boys’ Championship, presented by PURE Insurance, and reached the quarterfinals.
The Tavistock Country Club pair of Finnian McGarry and Doug Ergood finished second with a 5-under 66.
Galbreath and McGrath might have jump-started their title run with a couple of big par saves early as Galbreath holed a 12-foot putt for par on the par-4 second and McGrath got a little lucky when the flagstick stopped a chip shot and enabled him to get a par on the par-3 third.
Galbreath lofted a 60-degree wedge to 10 feet and made the putt for a birdie at the fifth. McGrath blasted a 6-iron from 195 yards away to reach the par-5 seventh in two and dropped a 25-foot eagle putt. When Galbreath got a 30-footer for birdie to fall at No. 8, arguably the toughest green at Rolling Green, the pair was officially on a roll.
Galbreath bombed his drive onto the green at the short par-4 12th and made a 25-footer for eagle. After a bogey at the tough, par-3 14th hole, Galbreath dropped in another long birdie try from 30 feet at the par-3 16th and McGrath got it up-and-down from a greenside bunker after nearly reaching the par-5 17th in two for one more birdie.
Waynesborough Country Club’s Cole Kemmerer and Applecross Country Club’s Jacob Zeng, members of Episcopal Academy’s Inter-Ac League championship last fall, headed three pairs tied for third at 1-under 70.
Joining them at 1-under 70 were the pairs of Noah Harrington of Cedarbrook Country Club and Matt Graeff of Manufacturers Golf & Country Club and Timothy Lorenzo of Philadelphia Cricket Club and Stephen Lorenzo of Manufacturers.
Two of District One’s top returning players, Downingtown East’s Wills Montgomery, who plays out of Applecross, and Bishop Shanahan’s Ryan Conners, the runnerup in Class AAA at districts last fall who plays out of Whitford Country Club, headed a group of six teams tied for sixth at even-par 71.
They were joined at that figure by Spring-Ford Country Club’s Ryan Tall, the Central League champion at Conestoga last fall, and Alex Cook of Waynesborough, the Blue Bell Country Club pair of Shane McCullough and Buddy Hansen IV, Greg DeLuca of Makefield Highlands Golf Club and Chris Benvenuto of the Philadelphia Junior Tour, Jack Habeeb of The Country Club of Scranton and Daniel Hinton of Elmhurst Country Club and Justin Hershey of Applebrook Golf Club and Trevor Paolone of Overbrook Golf Club.
Two more members of Episocopal’s Inter-Ac championship team, its senior leader, Matt Marino, and Jon Nolan Perry, who finished second in the league’s regular-season points standings, headed a group of five more teams tied for 12th at 1-over 72. Marino and Perry play out of Waynesborough.
Also in the group tied for 12th were Liam Hart of Spring Mill Country Club and Jack LaRosa of Philmont Country Club, the Kennett Square Golf & Country Club pair of Ryan McHugh and Padraic Walsh, the Huntingdon Valley duo of Brett McGrath and Patrick Isztwan and D.J. Pinciotti III of Huntingdon Valley and Ryan Bammann of Five Ponds Golf Club.
Rolling Green’s Kathleen Mark and Riley Quartermain of Llanerch Country Club emerged from a tight three-way race to take the girls title with an 8-over 79. Mark is an incoming freshman at Episcopal and Quartermain will be a freshman at Haverford High.
The Merion Golf Club pair of Lauren Jones and Amanda Jones were a shot back in second with an 80 and Grace Simenson of RiverCrest Golf Club & Preserve and Allison Bradley of Aronimink Golf Club were another shot back of the Joneses in third with an 81.
Patrick Nolan of Talamore Country Club and Henry Fish of Chester Valley Golf Club cruised to the Junior-Junior boys crown with a 1-under 35. Nolan will be an eighth-grader at Abington Junior High while Fish will be an eighth-grader at Malvern Prep.
The Rolling Green pair of Ryan Garvey and Sydney Yermish shared runnerup honors with Nathan Guertler of Tavistock and Chase Cristilla of Laurel Creek Country Club, each team carding a 40. Richie Biborosch of Aronimink and Jack Ploszay of Chester Valley finished fourth at 44.
The Huntingdon Valley pair of Emma McGrath and Molly Gregor were unopposed in the Junior-Junior girls division, but still posted a solid 6-over 42.
The Francis X. Hussey Memorial is named for an avid junior golfer at Rolling Green who suffered from congenital heart disease. Hussey, who attended Haverford Township schools, died at age 13 in December 1983 while undergoing heart surgery.