LuLu Country Club’s Michael R. Brown Jr. had a couple of Golf Association of Philadelphia major championships on his resume, but it had been a while.
But Brown proved Thursday in the second round of the 116th Joseph H. Patterson Cup at Gulph Mills Golf Club, the Donald Ross gem set amid the hustle and bustle of Upper Merion traffic, that he hasn’t forgotten how to win.
The 45-year-old made a breathtaking move in the middle of his round, making four birdies and an eagle in a stretch of six holes that somehow also included a bogey, on his way to a scintillating 5-under-par 66 that gave him the title in the Patterson Cup.
Brown trailed opening-round leader Scott McNeil of Bala Golf Club by five shots after posting a 1-over 72 in Wednesday’s opening round. Thursday’s 66 gave him a 4-under 138 total and a two-shot victory over fellow LuLu member Mark Farley, a Langhorne resident who completed a solid college career with Brian Quinn’s Temple program this spring.
Farley had even more ground to make up after an opening-round 74, but he too fired a 66, capping it with a spectacular eagle at the par-5 18th, for a 2-under 140 total that left him alone in second.
But this day belonged to Brown of Maple Shade, N.J. It did not get off to a promising start as he drove it in the trees on the right side of the first hole and made bogey.
His 7-iron shot from 164 yards away at the third finished a foot from the hole for a tap-in birdie. After a bogey at the fifth, Brown made his move.
He birdied the par-5 seventh hole when his downhill 20-footer for birdie was going way too fast until it disappeared in the hole. Brown wedged his approach from 54 yards away at the eighth to five feet and made that, then used a wedge again from 97 yards away at the ninth and hit it to six feet and made that.
At the 10th, Brown made it four straight birdies when his 9-iron from 131 yards away finished six feet from the hole and he dropped that putt.
Brown bunkered his tee shot at the 11th, which led to a bogey, but it only sidetracked him momentarily. At the par-5 12th, Brown reached the green in two with a 5-iron from 197 yards away and then buried a 25-footer for eagle. He was suddenly 4-under for the day.
Brown parred the next five holes and then reached the green in two at the par-5 18th and two-putted for the finishing touch on his winning round.
Brown had won the GAP Middle-Amateur crown in 2009 and the Philadelphia Open in his William Hyndman III Player of the Year campaign in 2010. As he pointed out, the competition on the GAP circuit is tough.
“I’m a little shocked,” Brown told the GAP website. “I didn’t put myself into the golf tournament until pretty late. There are a lot of good young players and a lot of good older players and it’s really hard to win in Philadelphia.
“I couldn’t be happier. It’s a relief as much as a feeling of accomplishment because you would hate to work hard and not be paid off.”
Merion Golf Club’s Michael McDermott is one of those good older guys Brown was talking about. The three-time BMW Philadelphia Amateur champion and 2007 Patterson Cup winner added an even-par 71 to his opening-round 70 and finished tied for third, a shot behind Farley at 1-under 141.
McDermott shared third with Adam Armagost of the RiverWinds Golf & Tennis Club. He is a little bit of a mystery to me, although he might be the same guy as the Edmond Armogast, a Pine Valley Golf Club caddie, who qualified for the U.S. Senior Amateur in a GAP-administered qualifier at Tavistock Country Club last week. I’ll get to the bottom of that little mystery by the time the U.S. Senior Amateur gets under way.
Armogast carded a 1-under 70 Thursday after matching par with a 71 in Wednesday’s opening round.
Marty McGuckin of RiverCrest Golf Club & Preserve, who reached the semifinals of the BMW Philadelphia Amateur at Whitemarsh Valley Country Club earlier this summer, headed a group of three players tied for fifth at even-par 142 after adding a 1-over 72 to his opening-round 70.
He was joined at that figure by Peter Barron III of Greate Bay Country Club, who also posted a final-round 72 after opening with a 70, and Blaine Lafferty of Little Mill Country Club, who completed a solid college career at Delaware this spring. Lafferty had opened with a 2-under 69 and fell back a little with a 2-over 73.
Saucon Valley Country Club’s Matthew Mattare, the reigning William Hyndman III Player of the Year, headed a group of five players tied for eighth at 1-over 143. Mattare matched par with a 71 Thursday after opening with a 72.
Also in that group was Paul Mauer, who is an occasional looper at Stonewall, where his dad, also Paul, has been the manager since Day One. Mauer was elected to be the captain of the golf team at Navy for his senior season. Even though he wasn’t in the lineup, the Middies won the Patriot League title this spring. Mauer helped St. Joseph’s Prep capture the PIAA Class AAA team title as a senior in 2014.
Maybe it’s just a coincidence that teams Mauer is on keep winning championships, but I doubt it. Mauer, coming off a strong showing in the Pennsylvania Amateur at Sunnehanna Golf Club last week, matched par Thursday after opening with a 72.
Greg DeLuca, a PIAA Class AAA qualifier as a senior at Neshaminy last fall, fired a 3-under 68 after opening with a 75 to join the group at 143. DeLuca of Makefield Highlands Golf Club will try to convince Jim Wilkes that he deserves a look as a walk-on at Villanova.
Getting back to the Stonewall theme, the other two players at 143 were The Shore Club’s David Hicks, who got through a qualifier at Stonewall last summer to earn a trip to the U.S. Amateur at Riviera Country Club, and the Philadelphia Cricket Club’s Conrad Von Borsig, the 2009 BMW Philadelphia Amateur champion at Stonewall.
Hicks added a 72 Thursday to the even-par 71 he opened with while Von Borsig fell back a little with a 3-over 74 after opening up with a 2-under 69.
Brown’s 5-under 66 nearly earned him the Silver Cross Award, which goes to the GAP stroke-play champion. The scores from the Patterson Cup are added to the scores from match-play qualifying at the BMW Philadelphia Amateur for a 72-hole total.
Fieldstone Golf Club’s Ryan Rucinski, invited to the NCAA Division III Championship as an individual as a junior at Wilmington College this spring, claimed the Silver Cross Award with a 1-over 286 total, mostly on the strength of his performance at Whitemarsh Valley, where he was the qualifying medalist. Rucinski nailed down the Silver Cross Award with a 3-over 74 Thursday.
Brown, McGuckin and Mattare all finished a shot behind Rucinski in a tie for second at 287.