Peter Bradbeer has been keeping some pretty good company in the summer before his sophomore season at Bucknell.
He took three-time BMW Philadelphia Amateur champion and fellow Merion Golf Club member Michael McDermott to 19 holes before falling in an opening-round match at this year’s Philly Amateur at the Philadelphia Cricket Club’s Wissahickon Course. He finished tied for 25th in last month’s Philadelphia Open at Philadelphia Country Club. And he reached the final of the always contentious Merion club championship before falling to noted golf traveler John Sawin.
After firing a 3-under-par 68 at Wilmington Country Club’s South Course Wednesday to take a one-shot lead after the opening round of the 104th Joseph H. Patterson Cup, the last of the Golf Association of Philadelphia’s four major championships each year, Bradbeer will again find himself part of a marquee grouping.
Bradbeer’s playing partners Thursday will be Yardley Country Club’s Christopher Ault, who reached the second round of match play in last summer’s U.S. Mid-Amateur Championship at Stonewall, and Spring Mill Country Club’s Christopher Crawford, who has earned trips to each of the last two U.S. Opens the hard way, battling through local and sectional qualifiers.
Ault, coming off a solid tie for second in last week’s Pennsylvania Amateur at White Manor Country Club, and Crawford, who has been playing the top-tier national amateur circuit, each posted a 2-under 69 over the 7,172-yard, par-71 South Course layout and trail Bradbeer by a shot.
Crawford’s victory in the 2015 Patterson Cup at Chester Valley Golf Club seemed to serve as a springboard for a solid senior season at Drexel and then the memorable sectional qualifier that got him into the field for the U.S. Open at Oakmont Country Club.
A three-putt resulted in a bogey at the second for Bradbeer, but he got that shot back when he lofted a wedge from 90 yards to 15 feet at the sixth hole and drained the putt for a birdie. A poor drive on the ninth left him in the left rough, just along the tree line. Figuring his shot out of the rough was going to come out hot, Bradbeer ripped an 8-iron from 183 yards away to a foot for a tap-in birdie to get to 1-under.
The Friends’ Central School product made birdie at 12 and bogey at 13 before blasting a 3-wood from 263 yards away to reach the par-5 14th in two and two-putting for birdie. He then wedged his approach from 95 yards at the 15th to 15 feet and dropped the birdie try to get it to 3-under.
“To play with (McDermott in the Amateur) really helped me realize where my game needs to go and it showed me I can hang with some of the best players in Philadelphia,” Bradbeer told the GAP website. “I felt confident the past couple days. I can’t wait to get out there (Thursday).”
Ault and Crawford aren’t the only heavyweights hot on his heels. Huntingdon Valley Country Club’s Benjamin Smith and Overbrook Golf Club’s James Kania Jr. are another shot behind Ault and Crawford in a tie for fourth at 1-under 70.
I spent a long, long day with Kania, who won the 2009 Patterson Cup at Llanerch Country Club, while I was caddying for his playing partner, A.J. Aivazoglou, in the U.S. Amateur qualifier at Stonewall last month and Kania’s game was very solid.
McDermott, defending Patterson Cup champion Jeff Osberg of Huntingdon Valley and Gregor Orlando, who won that Philly Amateur title earlier his summer on his home course at the Cricket Club, headline a foursome of players lurking three shots behind Bradbeer in a tie for sixth at even-par 71. Danny Harcourt of Mercer Lakes Golf Course rounds out that star-studded group.
There are nine more very capable contenders tied for 10th at 1-over 72. One of them, David Hicks of Wildwood Golf & Country Club, is tuning up for the U.S. Amateur later this month at Riviera Country Club and Bel-Air Country Club, after surviving that qualifier at Stonewall.
Also in the group at 1-over 72 was Georgetown senior Cole Berman of the Cricket Club. Berman won the Patterson Cup in 2014 at Tavistock Country Club a few weeks before starting his collegiate career with the Hoyas.
Berman isn’t the only college guy in that group. John Barrone of Glenmaura National Golf Club is a redshirt junior at Temple and was the best of several of Brian Quinn’s Owls who teed it up Wednesday. Drexel senior Aaron Fricke of Lancaster Country Club and Delaware junior Mark Benevento Jr of Greate Bay Country Club are also in that group. Fricke, a Garden Spot product, finished tied for eighth in last week’s state amateur at White Manor.
Austin Barbin, playing as a GAP Junior eClub entry, is also in the group. He is one of a talented group of brothers from Elkton, Md. Barbin finished tied for second in GAP’s Christman Cup at Stonewall’s North Course last month.