Jul 12, 2023

119th Open Championship Preview

Lookaway set to host July 19-20

A storied competition reconnects with storied real estate when Lookaway Golf Club hosts the 119th Open Championship July 19-20.

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The Buckingham, Pa. property, will serve as the stage for the Association’s third Major of the season. This is Lookaway’s second time hosting the Open (2008). That year, the Championship was shortened to one round due to intense lightning and heavy rains. Professional Greg Pieczynski hoisted the hardware with a 5-under 67.

The GAP Open Championship is a two-day, 36-hole stroke play event. A field of 146 (106 amateurs, 40 professionals) will be cut to the low 60 and ties after Round One. The GAP Open Championship is a William Hyndman, III Player of the Year event.

In addition to the 2008 Open, Lookaway, a Rees Jones layout, previously hosted the 2021 GAP Middle-Amateur Championship and the 2020 Pennsylvania Golf Association Amateur Championship. Earlier, this year, Lookaway served as a Stroke-Play Qualifying site for the BMW Philadelphia Amateur Championship with Huntingdon Valley Country Club the main venue. The site will also host the 2023 Philadelphia Players Championship, an invite-only Philadelphia PGA Section event, in September. 

“Players can expect to have all aspects of their game tested on a challenging championship setup. No one style of play will have an advantage,” Lookaway Golf Club’s Golf Professional Chad Halvonik, 29, of Lansdale, Pa., said. “This is one of the most prestigious golf tournaments played annually in Pennsylvania. We could not be more excited to be a part of this historic championship. We understand the GAP likes to hold their Major events at some of the top clubs in Philadelphia, so it’s a privilege to be selected for this year’s tournament.” 

Last year, Philadelphia Cricket Club (Wissahickon) hosted the Open as a part of GAP’s 125th Anniversary celebration. John Brennan carded rounds of 72 and 67 to become the first amateur from Cricket to win the event in its 118-year history.

“It’s a pretty big honor to defend your title for any GAP Major. To win last year at Cricket meant a lot especially being at the home club. I’m sure Lookaway is going to be a great venue for this year’s Open,” Brennan, 44, of Collegeville, Pa., said. “I just want to give myself a chance. The early goal is to make the cut and see where I’m at. [I want] to stay in the moment as best as I can.”

Brennan is familiar with Lookaway. His prior experiences at this year’s host site include the 2021 GAP Mid-Am and this year’s BMW Philadelphia Amateur. In the 2021 Middle-Amateur, Brennan shot rounds of 70 and 73 to finish four shots behind Scott McNeil of Philadelphia Publinks Golf Association, the event’s champion.  

“I love the finishing stretch there. [Holes] 16, 17 and 18 have a little bit of everything,” Brennan said. “No. 18 has to be one of the best finishing holes in the GAP area.”  

Brennan’s victory last year marked the 22nd time an amateur has won the Open Championship. R. Jay Sigel, a GAP Hall of Famer, holds the most Open titles at six. Each time, he won as an amateur.   

Brennan tees off No. 1 (par 4, 377 yards) at 7:20 a.m., Wednesday alongside playing partners Andy Butler of Huntingdon Valley and Morgan Lofland of Phoenixville Country Club. 

Open Championship participants include professionals who are members in good standing of the Philadelphia PGA Section, head professionals of GAP Member Clubs, assistant professionals of Member Clubs who are active members of the New Jersey Section PGA and male amateurs who are members of GAP Member Clubs and carry a GAP/USGA Handicap Index of 5.0 or less. 

The low professional receives $7,000. 

In 2017, GAP changed the event’s format. Previously, participants played 36 holes in a one-day competition. Now, the event features two 18-hole rounds across two days.  

Last year, Rolling Green Golf Club’s Braden Shattuck, a teaching professional, and Sunnybrook Golf Club Assistant Professional Robert Fenton shared the low professional prize after shooting two-round totals of 141. Both players are competing again this year.  

“The course is fantastic. I think it’s a nice little hidden gem up there in Buckingham,” Shattuck, 28, of Wilmington, Del., said.

A gem with a William Penn connection.

In 1713, Penn deeded the Lookaway property to Thomas Watson of Yorkshire, England. Throughout the next 170 years, the land regularly changed ownership before Theodore W. Sterling purchased the then Paxon Farm from Edward and Albert Paxon in 1923. Sterling was a dairy farmer whose initials became the club’s logo.

Shattuck is in his second year as Director of Instruction at Rolling Green. The reigning Philadelphia PGA Player of the Year won the PGA Professional Championship in May at Twin Warriors Golf Club in Santa Ana Pueblo, N.M. His victory earned him a spot in the 2023 PGA Championship at Oak Hill Country Club in Rochester, N.Y. He missed the cut with rounds of 79 and 73. The Open Championship is missing from his trophy case. 

“I would like to get a little bit of justice for what happened last year,” Shattuck said. “I was leading the golf tournament for 35 holes and then I blew it out of bounds on 18 by a foot and lost [the lead] on the last hole. I would like to get this one this year.” 

Shattuck tees off No. 1 at 12:55 p.m., Wednesday with Michael Crowley of Briarwood Golf Club and Zach Dilcher of Hartefeld National. 

Past champions in the field include: Brennan (2022), Billy Stewart of Union League Liberty Hill (2018), Matthew Mattare of Saucon Valley Country Club (2017), Rich Steinmetz of Spring Ford Country Club (2009), Mark Miller of Philadelphia Cricket Club (2007) and David Quinn of Laurel Creek Country Club (2006).

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

Public and media are welcome to attend. Live scoring will be available at www.gapgolf.org. Any media inquiries should be directed to Martin D. Emeno, Jr., GAP Director of Operations, at 610-687-2340 ext. 0027 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 organization’s 340 Member Clubs and 100,000 individual members are spread across Pennsylvania, Delaware, New Jersey and Maryland. The GAP’s mission is to promote, preserve and protect the game of golf.

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