It isn’t very often that an event like the Joseph H. Patterson Cup, the last of the Golf Association of Philadelphia’s major championships each year, comes down to one defining shot.
But that’s what happened Thursday at Wilmington Country Club’s South Course. Merion Golf Club’s Peter Bradbeer, a sophomore at Bucknell, stood over a 23-foot birdie putt after firing his 5-iron shot on the 205-yard, par-3 17th hole right over the flag.
Bradbeer, who had been fighting off some of the biggest names in GAP all day long, was tied for the lead with Ben Smith of Huntingdon Valley Country Club, who was playing in the group ahead of him, at 1-under for the tournament.
His birdie try found the hole and Bradbeer celebrated with a fist pump and a full-throated roar. It was the shot he needed to make to win a tournament with more than a century of tradition and he pulled it off.
A par at the 18th gave Bradbeer a hard-fought 1-over-par 72 over the 7,160-yard, par-71 South Course layout, which, combined with an opening-round 68, gave him a 2-under 140 total. Smith added an even-par 71 to his opening-round 70 to finish at 1-under 141. They were the only players to finish under par.
And there was a nice little bonus for Bradbeer as he claimed the Silver Cross, GAP’s stroke-play championship, with a 286 total. The Silver Cross scoring is a combination of the 36-hole qualifying for the BMW Philadelphia Amateur championship, which was held at Philadelphia Cricket Club’s Wissahickon and Militia Hill courses, and the 36 holes of the Patterson Cup.
Bradbeer finished a shot ahead of the Cricket Club’s Cole Berman, a senior at Georgetown, and Lancaster Country Club’s Aaron Fricke, a senior at Drexel, and two shots ahead of the Cricket Club’s Gregor Orlando, who went to claim the BMW Philadelphia Amateur crown on his home course, in the Silver Cross scoring.
“(Winning this tournament) means the world to me,” Bradbeer, a Friends’ Central School product, told the GAP website. “Absolutely. The Patterson (Cup) is one of the few tournaments I look forward to every summer. It’s incredible.
“I called my dad (James) a couple minutes after we finished up. He was like just look at the names (on the trophy). I took a peek and it’s incredible. Especially the Silver Cross. I’m still in shock.”
All you need to do to measure the quality of Bradbeer’s victory is look down the leaderboard at the players he finished ahead of.
Bradbeer’s playing partner Chris Ault of Yardley Country Club, a national level mid-amateur who was coming off a tie for second in last week’s Pennsylvania Amateur, shared third place with Berman, who won the Patterson Cup in 2014, and GAP veteran Brian Gillespie of St. Davids Golf Club at even-par 142, two shots behind Bradbeer.
Ault added a 2-over 73 to his opening-round 69 while Gillespie and Berman both made strong moves up the leaderboard in Thursday’s second round. Berman finished with a 1-under 70 while Gillespie carded a 2-under 69.
The third in Bradbeer’s group, Spring Mill Country Club’s Chris Crawford, who has battled his way through local and sectional qualifiers to reach the last two U.S. Opens, shared sixth place with Orlando, the reigning Philly Amateur champion, at 1-over 143.
Crawford, who won the Patterson Cup two years ago at Chester Valley Golf Club, carded a 74 after opening with a 69. Orlando added a 1-over 72 to his opening-round 71.
Matt Mattare of Saucon Valley Country Club headed a decorated group of five players tied for eighth at 2-over 144. Mattare was coming off a victory in the prestigious MET Amateur last weekend as his 36-hole final with Bradley Lankler at Laurel Links Country Club went the distance before Mattare pulled out a 1-up decision. That on top of his Philadelphia Open triumph at Philadelphia Country Club a couple of weeks earlier. Mattare fired a 2-under 69 after opening with a 75.
LedgeRock Golf Club’s J.D. Hughes, a junior at Penn State, was coming off a victory in the Pennsylvania Amateur at White Manor Country Club last week. He added a 1-under 70 to his opening-round 74.
Defending Patterson Cup champion Jeff Osberg of Huntingdon Valley added a 71 to his opening-round 73. Merion’s Michael McDermott, a quarterfinalist in last summer’s U.S. Mid-Amateur at Stonewall, also went 71-73. Rounding out that talented fivesome at 144 was Jay Whitby of Wild Quail Golf & Country Club, who added an even-par 71 to his opening-round 73.
And Peter Bradbeer beat them all. Look out Patriot League, Bucknell’s got a pretty good player infused with a big jolt of confidence coming your way.