117th #GAPOpen: Preview - The Golf Association of Philadelphia

Jul 08, 2021

117th #GAPOpen: Preview

117th #GAPOpen travels west to make CC of York debut

| Tee sheets | History | York flyover |

A new, western stage for GAP Majors surfaces next week.

The 117th Open Championship tees off July 13-14 at Country Club of York – the club’s GAP Major debut. The Donald Ross creation will play host to an Open field consisting of 86 amateurs and 39 professionals.

The #GAPOpen, the Association’s third oldest championship, is a two-day, 36-hole stroke play event. There is a cut to the low 60 players and ties after Round One.

The guaranteed purse for professionals is $30,000.

After a decade of amateur dominance, where they won nine of the last 10, professionals have now taken two of the previous three renditions. Lookaway Golf Club professional Michael Little broke through in last year’s championship at Doylestown Country Club. Little birdied Doylestown’s finishing hole for the victory. He says defending the title is his top priority for this season.

“Defending the title, it would be amazing for me. It’s something I’ve been thinking about for a while now, and this event will be the top one for me this year,” said Little. “It’s a different approach than I’ve had, and I’m going to be a little more aggressive this year. Some guys get lucky winning once, but winning twice really solidifies yourself as a top player. I’ve always thought that I could play with the best players in the area, but you have to win those bigger events. Last year proved it to me. I think that I have a good opportunity again this year as long as I can execute.”

In order to execute, Little will have to tackle CC of York’s test of golf. It’s one he feels plays stylistically similar to last year’s championship venue. Little tees off Tuesday at 8:22 a.m. on No. 10.

“Awesome golf course. It’s a perfect venue for the GAP Open and I’m really excited to get there. I’ve played York one time last year in the [Philadelphia PGA Professional Championship] and played it well. I feel like it suits my eye. You don’t have to be a long player, but you need to have an accurate short game with a good putter, which is very similar to Doylestown last year,” said Little, 37, of North Wales, Pa.

“Quite a bit of elevation change throughout the property with a lot of variety. If you’re not too careful, Donald Ross can come up a bite you.”

Kevin Bales, Head Golf Professional

Other past winners in the field include Billy Stewart of Union League Liberty Hill (2018); Matthew Mattare of Saucon Valley Country Club (2017); Andrew Mason of Huntingdon Valley (2011-12); Michael R. Brown, Jr. of LuLu Country Club (2010); Rich Steinmetz of Spring Ford Country Club (2009); Mark Miller of Philadelphia Cricket Club (2007); David Quinn of Laurel Creek Country Club (2006); Brian Kelly of Bucknell Golf Club (2003, 2000); Terry Hertzog of Merion Golf Club (2001).

Although York has never played host to a GAP Major thus far, championships have been in its pedigree since opening in 1899.  The club has a multitude of Pennsylvania Golf Association events to its name, including last year’s R. Jay Sigel Match Play Championship, while also playing host to the 1999 U.S. Junior Amateur Championship, the highlight of the club’s centennial season. The course itself, featuring 59 deep-faced bunkers and a plethora of testing terrains, is primed to make a lasting impression this #GAPOpen week.

“We are always honored to host an event of this nature. Being able to showcase our golf course and to be considered among the best in the Philly area with all of the great golf courses in the GAP region is special. Our membership is excited for next week, and we’d like to thank them for their support in hosting for the first time,” said head professional Kevin Bales, 33, of York, Pa. “It’s a true Donald Ross. If you’ve played a Ross course, you’ll see a lot of similarities and uniqueness in the property we have. Quite a bit of elevation change throughout the property with a lot of variety. If you’re not too careful, Donald Ross can come up and bite you.”

One York member – Emmett French – has won an Open crown, coming in 1919 at Whitemarsh Valley Country Club.

Ashley Grier, an assistant professional at Overbrook Golf Club, is set to make her third-straight appearance in the championship. In 2019, she became the first female to vie for the Open trophy since Kimberly Verrecchio (2004).

GAP Hall of Famer R. Jay Sigel holds the most Open titles at six. He won all of those as an amateur.

Connect with the Open Championship via GAP’s social media channels (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram). Use #GAPOpen when posting.

The media is welcome to attend. Contact Martin D. Emeno, Jr., GAP Director of Operations, at 610-687-2340 ext. 27 or via email at memeno@gapgolf.org.

Celebrating Amateur Golf since 1897, GAP, also known as the Golf Association of Philadelphia, is the oldest regional or state golf association in the United States. It serves as the principal ruling body of amateur golf in its region. The Association’s 300 Member Clubs and 80,000 individual members are spread across the Eastern half of Pennsylvania and parts of Delaware, Maryland and New Jersey. The GAP’s mission is to promote, preserve and protect the game of golf.

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