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Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Mattare holds on to capture Philadelphia Open crown

   It’s never easy to follow up a round like the spectacular, course-record 8-under-par 63 that Saucon Valley Country Club’s Matt Mattare shot Monday at Philadelphia Country Club in the opening round of the Golf Association of Philadelphia’s 113th Open Championship.
   For many years, the Philadelphia Open was a one-day, 36-hole event. The way Mattare was hitting it Monday, he probably wished he didn’t have to wait to start the second round.
   It wasn’t easy, Mattare finally stumbling a little on the incoming nine of the 6,962-yard, par-71 Philly Country Club layout, but he got it done. The 31-year-old Jersey City, N.J. resident carded a 4-over 75 Tuesday for a 4-under 138 total that gave him a two-shot victory with a whole gang of Philadelphia Section PGA pros breathing down his neck.
   It was Mattare’s second GAP major, adding the Philadelphia Open title to the 2016 Middle-Amateur title he won in three-man playoff at Waynesborough Country Club. Bottom line is there a ton of good players in this area and these GAP major titles are tough to come by.
   “It wasn’t as easy as (Monday),” Mattare told the GAP website. “If feels great to get it over the finish line I feel like my resume has a bunch of runnerups and top-fives and not enough of the big hardware. It feels great to bring this one home.”
   Mattare did what he should have with a four-shot lead to open the proceedings Tuesday. He rattled off nine straight pars and actually increased his lead to five shots with nine holes to play.
   He missed the green at 10 and 11, resulting in bogeys. His tee shot at the par-3 15th ended up in a greenside bunker and led to another bogey. He chunked his approach at the 16th and suddenly found himself staring at a six-footer for bogey. He made it. After one-putting 13 greens Monday, the bogey putt at 16 was his only one-putt Tuesday.
   But the bleeding was over. He righted the ship with two finishing pars.
   The next seven spots in the final standings belonged to Philadelphia Section PGA pros. Tony Perla, an assistant pro at Philadelphia Cricket Club, and Brian Bergstol, the director of instruction at Shawnee Country Club, shared second place at 2-under 140 and shared low-pro honors.
   Perla began the day in second place, his opening-round 67 overshadowed by Mattare’s stunning assault on par at Philly. He added a 73 Tuesday. Bergstol matched the low round of the day with his 2-under 69 after opening with a 71.
   John Pillar Sr., the director of golf at the Country Club at Woodloch Springs, continued a strong 2017 campaign by finishing alone in fourth at 1-under 141. He added a 1-under 70 to his opening-round 71.
   Lookaway Golf Club’s Michael Little, the reigning Omega Player of the Year in the Philadelphia Section, led a group of three pros tied for fifth at even-par 142. Little also had a 70 after opening with a 72.
   Billy Stewart, an assistant pro at The ACE Club, also had rounds of 72 and 70 to join that group at 142. Stewart had an impressive Pennsylvania Open win at Rolling Green Golf Club two summers ago and then had to shut it down in 2016 while recovering from an injury – pretty sure it was a shoulder, but I’m not  positive. Regardless, it’s nice to see Billy the Kid get back in the mix.
   Chris Kruger of Kings Creek Country Club also went 72-70 to round out the threesome tied for fifth at 142.
   David Quinn, out of the Philmont Country Club pro shop, was alone in eighth place at 1-over 143 after adding a 72 to his opening round of even-par 71.
   Applebrook Golf Club head pro Dave McNabb, preparing for his third appearance in the PGA Championship next month at the Quail Hollow Club in Charlotte, N.C., headed a group of seven players tied for ninth at 2-over 144. McNabb, who earned his PGA berth with a runnerup finish in the PGA Professional Championship at the Sunriver Resort in Oregon, carded an even-par 71 after opening with a 73.
   Temple junior Gary McCabe Jr., a La Salle product playing out of the RiverCrest Golf Club & Preserve, matched the low round of the day with a 69 to get his piece of ninth at 144. Gulph Mills assistant pro Jordan Gibbs, the reigning Philadelphia Section PGA Championship winner, also matched the low round with a 69 to finish at 144.
   Rounding out the group at 144 were Spring-Ford Country Club head pro Rich Steinmetz (72-72), a couple of Lu Lu Country Club amateurs, Michael R. Brown Jr. (73-71) and Jack Melville (70-74), a sophomore at Delaware, and Alexander Knoll (71-73), out of the Bethlehem Golf Club pro shop.
   Merion Golf Club’s Michael McDermott, a three-time BMW Philadelphia Amateur champion, headed a group of five players tied for 16th at 3-over 145. McDermott, who has several near-misses in the Philadelphia Open, but has never won it, struggled to a 76 after opening with a 69 Monday.
   The Cricket Club’s Cole Berman, a Georgetown senior and the 2015 BMW Philadelphia Amateur champion, added a 74 to his opening-round 71 to join the group at 145.
   Rounding out the group at 145 were Yoseph Dance (73-72), who recently completed his career at Drexel and plays out of the Union League Golf Club at Torresdale, Little Mill Country Club’s Troy Vannucci (73-72) and Stone Harbor Golf Club’s David Hicks (69-76).

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