Aug. 28, 2017

Matthew Finger pumps his fist following a birdie on No. 9 (par 4, 407 yards).

Thumbs up: DuPont’s Finger medals in U.S. Mid-Amateur Qualifier

  MALVERN, Pa. — Matthew Finger took a 10-day break from golf to help his father Jon, who is recovering from surgery in his hometown of Charleston, S.C. The hiatus refreshed his attitude, reinvigorated his game and readied the DuPont Country Club member for a breakout Monday.

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   Finger carded a 2-under-par 69 to earn medalist honors in a U.S. Mid-Amateur Qualifier administered by the Golf Association of Philadelphia at a pleasant White Manor Country Club (par 71, 6,978 yards). Stone Harbor Golf Club’s Peter Barron, III and Philadelphia Cricket Club’s Gregor Orlando also punched their qualifying tickets in regulation.

  Lu Lu Country Club’s Michael R. Brown, Jr., Llanerch Country Club’s Joseph Kerrigan, Jr. and Huntingdon Valley Country Club’s Jeff Osberg all advanced in a sudden-death playoff. Twenty-six holes later, Philadelphia Cricket’s Ryan Gelrod secured the final spot by outlasting Scott Ehrlich of the host club in overtime.

  The U.S. Mid-Amateur will take place Oct. 7-12 at Capital City Club in Atlanta, Ga.

   “I think the layoff did me well, just getting out of my own head and having realistic expectations,” Finger, 40, of Woolwich Township, N.J., said. “I just played steady. I didn’t really miss any shots and just had a great round.”

  A great round on a course he adores. Finger, who favors challenging layouts in competition, spoke highly of White Manor’s make-up — one he “could play every day.”

   “It’s just a beautiful look,” Finger said. “The greens are great. It’s always in excellent condition. What more could you ask for?”

  Finger, who started on the back nine, registered 15 greens in regulation on the day. A three-birdie stretch during Finger’s outward tour thrust his name to the top of the leaderboard. On No. 15 (par 4, 326 yards), he smacked a sand wedge 70 yards to 10 feet and drained the uphill putt. Finger hit a 6-iron 176 yards to two feet on the downhill par 4, 445-yard 16th hole for a surefire 3. The risk-reward 17th hole (par 5, 552 yards) saw Finger knock a wedge 120 yards to 25 feet above the hole location. He buried a left-to-right breaker for birdie to move to 2 under.

  “It’s a fast putt down that hill. I saw my playing competitor almost put it off the green so I gave it some extra borrow and it went right in the middle,” Finger said.

  As the winds persisted, so did Finger’s penchant for red. He birdied No. 2 (par 4, 430 yards) by drilling a 5-iron 177 yards into tap-in territory. Finger propagated pars until the par 3, 155-yard No. 8 presented its problematic posture. With a glaring water hazard left and limited bailout right, Finger attacked a middle left hole location with a 7-iron.

  “The wind was blowing hard and I pulled it a little bit. It hit the rocks [and went into the water]. It was close to being a good shot,” he said. “I managed to two-putt for double (bogey).”

  Finger punctuated his qualifying position with a fist-pumping birdie on the par 4, 407-yard No. 9. The number 177 returned for a welcoming encore. Despite being in a divot, Finger urged an uphill 5-iron from 177 yards to clear a guarding bunker. It did, leaving Finger a downhill 20-footer for birdie. He examined the green from three different vantages, addressed his golf ball and stroked it into the jar.

  “I was really proud of myself. I hit a good drive and knew I had to make a good score on that hole,” Finger, who also qualified for the U.S. Mid-Amateur in 2015, said. “[177] was the right number for me today.”

  A calamity of struggles, primarily on the greens, prompted Finger, co-runner-up in last year’s GAP Middle-Amateur Championship, to label his 2017 tournament season “below average.” He arrived at White Manor two hours prior to his tee time, hoping to rekindle a spark with his Scotty Cameron Futura.

  “I went back to the putter that did me well last year. Today it was working,” Finger, runner-up in the 2015 New Jersey State Golf Association Middle-Amateur Championship, said. “I’m really happy to have played well today. I’ve had a rough year. This turns it into a great year. To shoot 69 after the year I’ve had and make the U.S. Mid-Amateur is awesome.”

  Like Finger, Barron changed putters — from a mallet to a blade — prior to White Manor. The swap proved critical to his 1-under-par 70 performance Monday.

  “I went to one with some toe-hang and put a square grip on it so I can have a better feel,” Barron, 41, of Mays Landing, N.J., said. “I was kind of coming through and pushing everything to the right before. With this grip, I can feel where the face is. It’s much better throughout the swing. It’s not rounded at all. I putted great today. I hit all of my lines.”

  Barron hit 14 greens in regulation and only missed one fairway. He birdied a pair of shortish par 4s in Nos. 7 (330 yards) and 15 (326 yards). Following long irons off the tee on both, he knocked a sand wedge 88 yards to inches on the first, a gap wedge 130 yards to 20 feet on the latter.

  Barron is the reigning NJSGA Middle-Amateur Champion. He is also a former GAP Middle-Amateur (2014) and Delaware State Golf Association Open (2016) titleholder. Barron will make his third U.S. Mid-Amateur appearance (2014-15).

  Orlando, the reigning BMW Philadelphia Amateur Champion, earned medalist honors in a U.S. Mid-Amateur Qualifier a year ago at his home club thanks to a walk-off ace. No theatrics this time around, but he’ll take his 72 and the boarding pass to Atlanta that comes with it.

  “No complaints here. I’ve definitely been playing some of my better golf this year than I have in the past few years,” Orlando, 26, of Philadelphia, Pa., said. “I look forward to getting down there, getting a couple of practice rounds in and hopefully I can make match play again.”

  In his first year of U.S. Mid-Amateur eligibility, Orlando advanced to the Round of 32 at Stonewall, where he fell to co-medalist and No. 1 seed Michael Muehr of Potomac Falls, Va., 2&1. He hopes to draw on that experience for the sequel.

  “The stroke play round is completely different from match play. You’re looking at that as every single shot counts,” Orlando said. “You just have to be mentally stable in the stroke play rounds. Par is a great score.”

Golf Association of Philadelphia
  Founded in 1897, the Golf Association of Philadelphia (GAP) is the oldest regional golf association in the United States and serves as the principal ruling body of amateur golf in its region. Its 151 Member Clubs and 57,000 individual members are spread across parts of Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware and Maryland. As Philadelphia’s Most Trusted Source of Golf Information, the Golf Association of Philadelphia’s mission is to promote, preserve and protect the game of golf.

Qualifiers

Name, club

Score

Matthew Finger, Woolwich Township, N.J.

69

Peter Barron, III, Mays Landing, N.J.

70

Gregor Orlando, Philadelphia, Pa.

72

*Michael R. Brown, Jr., Maple Shade, N.J.

73

*Joseph Kerrigan, Jr., Ardmore, Pa.

73

*Jeff Osberg, Bryn Mawr, Pa.

73

*Ryan Gelrod, Ambler, Pa.

73

Alternates (in order)

*Scott Ehrlich, Berwyn, Pa.

73

*Patrick Knott, Bryn Mawr, Pa.

74

Failed to qualify

Bryan Keeling, Holland, Pa.

74

Michael Carr, East Norriton, Pa.

74

John Lalley, Ardmore, Pa.

75

Brendan Borst, Philadelphia, Pa.

75

Jim Donnelly, Devon, Pa.

75

Robert Maguire, Pottstown, Pa.

75

Dan Bernard, Berwyn, Pa.

75

William Jeremiah, West Grove, Pa.

75

Sean Semenetz, Philadelphia, Pa.

76

Christopher Lange, Bryn Mawr, Pa.

76

Wes Strang, Bethesda, Md.

76

Eric Williams, Honesdale, Pa.

76

Connor McNicholas, Ambler, Pa.

76

Erik Brubaker, Delmar, Md.

77

Matthew Mattare, Jersey City, N.J.

77

Darren Taillie, Philadelphia, Pa.

77

Geoffrey Cooper, Erdenheim, Pa.

77

Matt Cocco, Churchville, Pa.

77

Stephen Seiden, Newtown Square, Pa.

77

Andy Latowski, San Francisco, Calif.

77

Jay Whitby, Wyoming, Del.

77

Mike O'Neil, Baltimore, Md.

77

Cory Siegfried, Haverford, Pa.

77

Daniel Rexon, Philadelphia, Pa.

78

Benjamin Feld, Philadelphia, Pa.

78

Adam Warner, Haddon Township, N.J.

78

Stephen Barry, Mullica Hill, N.J.

78

Nathan Sutherland, Wyomissing, Pa.

78

John Samaha, Hatboro, Pa.

78

McLain Leberte, Richmond, Va.

78

Sean Seese, Rydal, Pa.

78

Scott McLaughlin, Hatboro, Pa.

78

Samuel Sikes, Richmond, Va.

78

Eric Lefante, Florham Park, N.J.

78

Scott Storck, Philadelphia, Pa.

79

Kevin Rossi, Scranton, Pa.

79

Zachary Falone, Mickleton, N.J.

79

Paul Liebezeit, Berwyn, Pa.

79

Patrick Cooper, Brooklyn, N.Y.

79

Robert Bechtold, Avondale, Pa.

79

Andrew Jaskel, Philadelphia, Pa.

79

Michael Rogers, Wayne, Pa.

79

Sean Torpey, Doylestown, Pa.

79

Patrick Serfass, Wayne, Pa.

79

Tom Spano, Bryn Mawr, Pa.

79

Jamie Slonis, Sewell, N.J.

79

Gary Schoeman, Philadelphia, Pa.

80

Thomas Gramigna, Haddonfield, N.J.

80

Arthur Worthington, North Bethesda, Md.

80

Jesse Brookreson, Warrington, Pa.

80

Ed Brown, Rehoboth Beach, Del.

80

Brian Gillespie, Newtown Square, Pa.

80

Chris Meares, Sewell, N.J.

80

William Naylor, Malvern, Pa.

80

Kevin Cahill, Wayne, Pa.

80

Joe April, Berwyn, Pa.

81

Billy Reube, Philadelphia, Pa.

81

Brandon Capone, Columbus, N.J.

81

Jason Loehrs, Havertown, Pa.

81

Glenn Gamza, Bridgeport, Pa.

81

Jeffrey Romines, Conshohocken, Pa.

81

Mark Hill, Media, Pa.

81

Benjamin Smith, Philadelphia, Pa.

81

William Howard, V, West Chester, Pa.

82

Stephen Hudacek, Harveys Lake, Pa.

82

Christopher Tennekoon, New York, N.Y.

82

Michael Lenartowicz, Canton, Ohio

83

Dave Liotta, King of Prussia, Pa.

83

George Petrellis, North Wales, Pa.

83

Joseph Dulka, West Chester, Pa.

83

Daniel Pinciotti, Jr., Ivyland, Pa.

83

Michael Kania, Haverford, Pa.

83

Matt Petrosian, Lewiston, NY

84

M.Blake Cleary, Wilmington, Del.

84

Marc Mandel, Plymouth Meeting, Pa.

84

J.H. Park, Blue Bell, Pa.

84

Anthony Peressini, Doylestown, Pa.

84

Duane Pinnock, Eagleville, Pa.

84

Greg Markus, Philadelphia, Pa.

84

Lodie Van Tonder, Pennsville, N.J.

85

Richard Hunter Jr., Philadelphia, Pa.

85

John Oliver, Princeton, N.J.

85

Sean Coyle, Wayne, Pa.

85

James Kania, Jr., Haverford, Pa.

85

Danny Ott, Potomac Falls, Va.

85

Grant Skyllas, Wyomissing, Pa.

85

Drew Garis, Glenside, Pa.

85

Brad McFadden, Bryn Mawr, Pa.

86

Michael Axelrod, Merion Station, Pa.

87

Kevin Silvestri, Marlboro, N.J.

87

Daniel Tennekoon, Bryn Mawr, Pa.

87

Brock Neighbors, Newport, R.I.

87

Bradley Cornforth, Wilmington, Del.

88

Michael Anderson, Horsham, Pa.

88

Dan Brown, Broomall, Pa.

88

Scott Cahayla, Wilmington, Del.

89

Matt Crilley, Allentown, Pa.

90

Dan Simonsen, Conshohocken, Pa.

90

Alex Berger, Philadelphia, Pa.

90

Zachary Mullock, Cape May, N.J.

92

Ellis Chandler, New Holland, Pa.

92

Andrew Sterge, Wayne, Pa.

92

Brian Trymbiski, Doylestown, Pa.

94

Scott Oudsema, New York, NY

95

Noam Roizman, Blue Bell, Pa.

NS

Parker Williams, Bethesda, Md.

NS

Brett Patterson, McMinnville, Tenn.

WD

Keith Unikel, Bethesda, Md.

WD

Andrew Crowley, Richmond, Va.

WD

John Murphy, Cape May Court House, N.J.

WD

Greg Dymek, Doylestown, Pa.

WD

Brandon Detweiler, Lancaster, Pa.

WD

Andrew Lawson, West Chester, Pa.

WD

John Burke, Wilmington, Del.

WD

Edward Kelly, Ambler, Pa.

WD

Mike Valentine, Doylestown, Pa.

WD

Kevin Maguire, Philadelphia, Pa.

WD

David Howser, Memphis, Tenn.

WD

Frank Nattle, Phoenixville, Pa.

WD

Stuart Carrihill, Lancaster, Pa.

WD

Jordan Wycoff, Fort Washington, Pa.

WD

Daniel Charen, Langhorne, Pa.

WD

* — determined in playoff

NS — no show; WD — withdrawal

 

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