It wasn’t very pleasant playing conditions, but that might have worked out just as well for Brian Bergstol, out of the pro shop at the Shawnee Inn and Golf Resort, as he claimed the title in the National Car Rental Philadelphia Assistant PGA Professional Championship Monday with a 2-under-par 68 over a soggy Union League Golf Club at Torresdale layout.
Bergstol finished a shot ahead of Billy Stewart, an assistant at The ACE Club who was the only other player in the field under par, carding a 1-under 69 over the 6,490-yard, par-70 Union League Golf Club layout. The course is the old Torresdale-Frankford Country Club, a classic Donald Ross design.
Bergstol and Stewart headed a group of five Philadelphia Section PGA assistant pros who qualified for the NCR Assistant PGA Professional Championship, which will be held Nov. 9 to 12 at the PGA Golf Club’s Wanamaker Course in Port St. Lucie, Fla.
“My caddy called me and asked if I wanted him to come out today and I told him no because it didn’t make sense in this weather,” Bergstol told the Philadelphia Section PGA website. “I usually complain to him in weather like today, but because he wasn‘t there, I just kept playing and I guess that worked in my favor today.”
The other three qualifiers are Jakob Gerney of Trump National Golf Club Philadelphia, who carded an even-par 70, and Sunnybrook Golf Club’s Andrew Turner and Gulph Mills Golf Club’s Jordan Gibbs, both of whom posted a 1-over 71.
I’m guessing there was a playoff for those final two spots as Greg Matthias of Tavistock Country Club also carded a 1-over 71, but is listed as the first alternate. Philadelphia Cricket Club assistant pro Tony Perla, who shared low-pro honors in the Philadelphia Open with Bergstol at Philadelphia Country Club last month, also carded a 1-over 71, but might not be eligible for the national event.
Bergstol birdied the first and bogeyed the seventh to make the turn at even-par. He rattled off birdies at 10, 12 and 15 to get to 3-under before making bogey at the last to finish at 2-under.
Stewart didn’t have a par in his first five holes, then made 13 straight pars to finish his round, assuming he started at the first, although the weather may have dictated some sort of a modified shotgun start. Stewart birdied one and two, bogeyed three and four and birdied five.
When he won the Pennsylvania Open at Rolling Green Golf Club two years ago, Stewart indicated he wasn’t yet eligible to move on to national events like the NCR Assistant PGA Professional Championship, so he probably is now.
For instance, Applebrook Golf Club head pro Dave McNabb is teeing it up in the PGA Championship this week because he had a high finish in the Philadelphia Section PGA Championship last summer, which qualified him for the PGA Professional Championship at the Sunriver Resort in Oregon this summer, where his runnerup finish earned him a ticket to The Quail Hollow Club in Charlotte, N.C. for this week’s PGA.
Turner and Gibbs are the reigning champions in the Section’s two biggest events. Turner won the Haverford Philadelphia PGA Classic and its whopping $100,000 top prize, the biggest prize in any Section event in the country, on his home course at Sunnybrook the day after Memorial Day and Gibbs captured the Philadelphia Section PGA crown last summer at the Cricket Club.
The other alternates are the Cricket Club’s Rusty Harbold, who carded a 2-over 72, and Mike Furey of Mahoning Valley Country Club and James Hoke of the host Union League Golf Club, both of whom carded a 2-over 73.
Ashley Grier, the Section’s top female professional out of Overbrook Golf Club, also checked in with a solid 3-over 73.