May 30, 2017

Lu Lu Country Club’s Michael R. Brown, Jr. eyes his drive on No. 12 (par 5, 589 yards).

Lu Lu rises above Team Championship Qualifier at Radley Run

  WEST CHESTER, Pa. — Lu Lu Country Club is becoming the Golf Association of Philadelphia’s version of a phoenix. Its regeneration and ascension continued Tuesday in the Team Championship Qualifier at Radley Run Country Club (par 72, 6,692 yards).

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  Amid cloudy skies and scattered sprinkles, Lu Lu filed a 4-over-par 292 to top the event. The Glenside, Pa. venue will now make its third Team Championship appearance (2016, 2000) in the club’s 115-year history.

  Joining Lu Lu in the Championship proper are Commonwealth National Golf Club, Little Mill Country Club and Philadelphia Cricket Club. The 98th Team Championship will take place June 29 at Galloway National Golf Club.

  In October 2015, Lu Lu lost its clubhouse to a fire. It’s gained a crop of talented amateur golfers since to rise in the team ranks. Lu Lu advanced to Division AA in the BMW GAP Team Matches with a 41–13 victory over Lancaster Country Club in a Challenge. It returns to the Team Championship aiming to avenge a half-point loss to Little Mill a year ago (24.5–24).

  P.J. Acierno and Michael R. Brown, Jr. carded respective 1-under-par 71s to lead the Lu Lu contingent Tuesday.

  Acierno, playing Radley Run for the first time, opened with a square-circle sandwich. On No. 2 (par 5, 559 yards), he hammered a 2-iron 260 yards into the right greenside bunker and executed a 20-yard extrication into kick-in range. Acierno, a recent La Salle University graduate, bashed a driver greenside left on the gettable par 4, 318-yard No. 3. He then hit a wedge 50 yards to three feet for birdie. A tugged drive and missed green baked the bogey buns.

  During his inward nine, Acierno converted a pair of right-to-left sliders for birdie to finish in red figures. Hold a 90-yard sand wedge to seven feet on No. 14 (par 4, 401 yards), 95 yards to six feet on No. 17 (par 4, 368 yards) responsible.

  Like Acierno, Brown buried two back nine birdies to secure a 71. Using driver on the par 4, 349-yard 15th hole, Brown missed short right but stopped his ensuing pitch at a foot. On No. 16 (par 5, 528 yards), he nearly reached the green in two with a 3-wood. Another textbook pitch to two feet for birdie followed.

  “I sprayed the ball and my short game picked me up. I was pitching the ball close,” Brown, 44, of Maple Shade, N.J., said. “I probably missed six or seven greens and pitched it into tap-in [range] every time. That’s what I’m latching onto. I’ve been working very hard at it, but I’m not where I want to be yet. I’ve got to clean things up if I’m going to be competitive this summer. Today was something to build on for sure.”

  Brown joined Lu Lu during the winter for two of golf’s simple pleasures: competition and camaraderie.

  “We have really competitive games, and the more times I can play with good players, the better. I drive 45 minutes to do that,” he said.

  Acierno, too, relishes the camaraderie among the Lu Lu crew. Countless group texts — complete with rally cries and the usual ribbing — circulated in advance of the Team Championship Qualifier.

  “We were pretty amped up. [Jon Rusk, Lu Lu’s head professional] always makes sure we’re ready to play,” Acierno, 23, of Flourtown, Pa., said.

  Commonwealth National’s Brett Diakon carded a 3-under-par 69 to earn individual medalist honors Tuesday.

  “It was a great score for me,” Diakon, 37, of Perkasie, Pa., said. “I hit it pretty solid. I made a couple of putts that you’re supposed to make and missed a couple you’re supposed to make. I didn’t have to hit a lot of drivers today. It’s a good course and a little on the shorter side, which probably favors me. I was able to hit a lot of 3-woods and hybrids. I had a lot of wedges in my hands.”

  Those wedges set up three of Diakon’s four birdies on the day. He knocked a sand wedge 80 yards to 10 feet on No. 1 (par 4, 423 yards); a wedge 60 yards to two feet on No. 3 and another one 80 yards to 12 feet on No. 14. Diakon also birdied the par 3, 149-yard 13th hole, stopping a 6-iron at 12 feet.

  Commonwealth National will make its seventh straight and ninth overall Team Championship appearance. It triumphed in 2009 and 2014.

  Diakon, a champion of Commonwealth’s participation in team events, is thrilled to see his group in the Final once more.

  “It’s the event that I make sure I have time for on the calendar. If you make it to the championship, it’s one of the best days of the year,” Diakon, who works in marketing, said. “We had a great (BMW GAP) Team Matches season this year. We kind of had a shot I thought. We just couldn’t get the guys together every week. We were always a few short, so when this event comes around, we get kind of excited about it. We get all hands on deck and give it a lot of thought.”

  In addition to 2016, Little Mill advanced to the Team Championship 2005 and 2011. Philadelphia Cricket won titles in 2015 and 2013. It’s appeared in the Championship proper on nine occasions overall.

  The Team Championship Qualifier determines which four Member Clubs will compete in the Team Championship. Participants must field at least six players to be eligible. The low four scores of each team make up the qualifying total. In the event of a tie, the fifth player’s score is used.

  The Championship proper features eight-man teams playing an alternate shot format in the morning, with singles matches in the afternoon.

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.

Qualifiers

Team

Total

Lu Lu CC

292

Michael R. Brown, Jr.

71

P.J. Acierno

71

Connor McNicholas

74

Scott McLaughlin

76

Glenn Smeraglio

76

Jim Sullivan

78

Commonwealth National GC

298

Brett Diakon

69

Ron Robinson

75

Mike Valentine

77

Matthew Teesdale

77

David Kim

80

Daniel Furman

84

Philadelphia Cricket Club

298

Conrad Von Borsig

74

Scott Storck

74

Cole Berman

75

John Brennan

75

Robby Walizer

77

Ryan Gelrod

81

Little Mill CC

300

Zach Arsenault

72

Vincent Kwon

75

Troy Vannucci

75

Blaine Lafferty

78

Michael Dunn

78

Jack Sterbenz

87

Failed to qualify

Tavistock CC

307

Jamie Slonis

76

Doug Ergood

76

Adam Warner

76

Daniel Rexon

79

Thomas Gramigna

80

Sean Leonard

81

Running Deer GC

309

Chris Meares

75

Stephen Barry

76

Thomas Alestock

79

Norman Charlesworth

79

Frank Kohute

81

Chris Bevelheimer

95

Old York Road CC

312

John Samaha

74

Brendan Clearkin, Jr.

76

Jim Rosenbaum

81

Edward Kelly, Jr.

81

Dan Clark

83

Bryan Marvin

86

Overbrook GC

314

Michael Rogers

76

Oscar Mestre

77

Tucker Koch

79

Jason Early

82

Matt Walsh

82

Christopher Lange

84

Mercer Oaks GC

319

Brian Keane

77

Matt O'Connell

80

Brian Sokolowski

81

Douglas Mills

81

Kevin Heyeck

92

Mark Cubberley

WD

Bala GC

321

Scott McNeil

78

Andrew Kelly

80

Jack Glacken

81

Jeff Nocella

82

Douglas Christensen

90

Brian Kreamer

92

Dupont CC

321

Alan Lazzarino

77

Joseph Dulka

80

Scott Cahayla

82

Chase Miller

82

Mark Wachter

84

Scott Brittingham

86

Five Ponds GC

322

Drew Panebianco

77

Rodney James

79

Brian Rothaus

83

Nick Rocha

83

Neil Gordon

83

Joe Corcoran

84

Whitford CC

323

Peter Moran

80

Ryan Conners

80

Owen Mulhern

80

Charles Meadows

83

Marc Bricker

87

Matt Dietrich

WD

Woodcrest CC

327

Dan Close

79

Ben Keyser

80

Stephen Scott

83

Bill Murray

85

Alex Hargaden

87

Zane Buckley

WD

WD - withdrawal

Top 4 scores counted toward team total