#BMWGTM: Week One a reflection of 2016 Playoff
The reigning BMW GAP Team Matches Playoff participants kept a return trip to the postseason a possibility.
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Huntingdon Valley Country Club, Little Mill Country Club, Llanerch Country Club and Philadelphia Cricket Club 1 all posted Week One victories. Sunny skies and spring-like temperatures outlined the opening of the event’s 117th playing, which features a record number of teams (336) and clubs (139).
In Division AA, the BMW GAP Team Matches top-tier, defending champion Little Mill Country Club (1–0) stated its repeat intentions with an authoritative 41–13 victory over Applebrook Golf Club (0–1).
“We got lucky. We were down early and guys battled back tremendously to fight them off,” team captain Michael Hyland said. “Our home team represented really well. I stuck an older, veteran team at home and they played awesome. That’s our big thing. We always like to win big at home and try to break even or win a little bit away, and we ended up winning big at both. It was a wonderful day.”
Little Mill’s away team grabbed 17 points to Applebrook’s 10. Four months removed from back surgery, Hyland, a two-time BMW Philadelphia Amateur Champion, won his individual match and picked up three points in the better-ball portion alongside partner John Hornor.
“I was feeling great, and then on the second hole I hit a tee shot and thought I was going to go straight back to where I was. I was in so much pain,” Hyland, 38, of Medford, N.J., said. “Luckily it never got horrible. It helped that we were walking.”
Little Mill will face Makefield Highlands Golf Club (0–1) in Week Two.
A year ago, Philadelphia Cricket Club 1 (1–0) emphatically defeated Makefield Highlands, 45–9, in Week One. It produced a more resounding result on Sunday, defeating Division AA newcomer Lancaster Country Club (0–1), 51–3. Since the elimination of quarter-point bonuses in 2011, Philadelphia Cricket Club’s 51-point outpouring is a Week One record.
“Every individual and every four-ball match was won. What more can you ask for?” team captain Kevin Kelly said. “Everybody was prepared, came to play and played well. It’s great to get off to a start like that.”
Philadelphia Cricket Club 2, which sits in Section IV, is crowded with talent, too. It knocked off two-time BMW GAP Team Matches titleholder Commonwealth National Golf Club (0–1), 34–20, in Week One.
Depth is a good problem to have.
“The biggest challenge is who’s going to play on the first team and who’s going to play on the second team because we have so many talented guys,” Kelly, 50, of Horsham, Pa., said. “It will be a weekly decision. Jack Wallace (Philadelphia Cricket Club 2’s captain) and I are trying to make everybody happy. We’re trying to make sure everybody plays so we can gage how everyone is playing if we’re fortunate to get to the Playoff. Everybody is happy to do what’s best for the club and for the teams.”
Philadelphia Cricket Club 1 will face fellow unbeaten and seven-time champion Overbrook Golf Club (1–0) in Week Two.
“They’re always one of the catalysts in the Team Match rotation. They’re spectacular on their home turf,” Kelly said. “Ageless is the right word. They’ll field three or four guys who are probably in their late 50s, early 60s and look at how they do? It’s nice to see. We’re certainly not looking past them. We know it’s going to be a tough match.”
Huntingdon Valley (1–0), which finished third in last year’s Playoff, upended DuPont Country Club (0–1), 36.5–17.5, in Week One. Captain Daniel Pinciotti, Jr. applauded the team’s effort on a course unfamiliar to a good portion of its roster.
“Our guys stuck it out and played tough down there on a golf course they probably never played before,” he said. “DuPont is a great golf course. They had it in great shape, and the club has some really good players.”
As does Huntingdon Valley, a preeminent BMW GAP Team Matches entity with a record 32 titles. The team added Thomas Bartolacci, Jr., the Association’s 2008 Senior Player of the Year, to its depth chart this year. Bartolacci earned three singles points and swept the better-ball portion alongside Michael Gregor in Week One.
“He’s a grinder. He’ll fight tooth and nail for every point, which is great to see,” Pinciotti, 45, of Ivyland, Pa., said.
Huntingdon Valley expects a fight in Week Two against Commonwealth National.
“They’re probably going to be gunning for us,” Pinciotti said. “I’m sure they’re going to put their best team forward. We’re going to try and do the same. It’s going to be a battle.”
In Section 2, Llanerch (1–0) posted a commanding a 41.5–12.5 triumph over Philmont Country Club (0–1).
“Like every year, you always want to start off on a good foot. We were able to do that,” team captain Tom Spano said. “Going away, those guys got 24.5 points, which is pretty incredible.”
Roster retention, as Spano indicated, is key to Llanerch’s sustained success in the BMW GAP Team Matches. Familiarity with the same crop of players and their respective golf games makes road assignments less stressful.
“If you look at our roster of 12, we all play in different events. It’s great that I can send guys away who play in a bunch of GAP tournaments and can adapt to the different types of courses out there,” Spano, 34, of Bryn Mawr, Pa., said. “You shoot in the 70s, you’re going to earn points. Stephen Seiden’s been playing great golf for the past year, so Philmont was a good golf course for him: tight fairways, small greens.”
Seiden, Joe Kerrigan, Jr. and Cory Reighard each swept their individual and better-ball matches at Philmont. Llanerch and four-time BMW GAP Team Matches champion Tavistock Country Club (0–1) square off in Week Two.
BMW GAP Team Matches
Since 1897, the BMW GAP Team Matches has been contested annually, save World War II (1943-45) and the severe ice storm of 1994. The Association’s forefathers conceived the Matches to promote spirit, fellowship and camaraderie. It started with the four founding clubs — Belmont Golf Association (now Aronimink Golf Club), Merion Cricket Club, Philadelphia Country Club and Philadelphia Cricket — each fielding two teams with six players per side. First known as the Interclub Team Matches, the event changed to the Suburban League Matches in 1915 before adopting its current moniker in 1997. BMW returns for a third year as the event’s presenting sponsor.
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 153 Full Member Clubs and 57,000 individual members are spread across parts of Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Delaware. 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.