120th #BMWPhillyAm: Preview - The Golf Association of Philadelphia

Jun 08, 2020

120th #BMWPhillyAm: Preview

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Unique year, setting surround Amateur

The 120th BMW Philadelphia Amateur Championship is mired with footnotes, asterisks and addendums.

| Tee times | History | Medalists history | Fact sheet |

But at least the 120th BMW Philadelphia Amateur Championship will transpire in 2020. The show must go on — trite yet ever so true.

In the wake of the COVID-19 crisis, GAP, in accordance with legislative mandates and CDC guidelines, made it a priority to preserve its premier event. Therefore, the 120th BMW Philadelphia Amateur Championship is set for June 15-17 & 20 at Lancaster Country Club.

“GAP takes insurmountable pride in its ability to conduct exemplary championships. Preserving such a rich and distinguished tradition was at the forefront of our decision-making,” Martin D. Emeno, GAP’s Director of Operations/Communications, said. “We wanted to do everything in our power to ensure our premier championship took place in 2020.”

This year’s BMW Philadelphia Amateur differs entirely from its predecessors. First, the pandemic prompted GAP officials to cancel qualifying altogether. A field of 80 consists of 75 percent exempt players, 25 percent players with a Handicap Index of +3.3 or better. Stroke-play qualifying changes from 36 to 18 holes, with Lancaster serving as the lone host site on Day One.

Furthermore, contenders for the J. Wood Platt Trophy can use single-rider carts for transportation. Caddies and spectators (exceptions apply here) are prohibited.

Despite such a drastic change in complexion, the BMW Philadelphia Amateur Championship is well-positioned to grace Lancaster for the first time in event history. Lancaster, a revered William Flynn design founded in 1900, hosted the 2015 U.S. Women’s Open, but never a GAP Major.

“We’re very proud of our Flynn golf course and its championship nature. It just seems like the perfect venue to hold one of the oldest amateur events in the country, if I’m not mistaken,” Richard Gibson, II, Lancaster’s head professional of 20 years, said. “It just seemed like a good fit. We try to make sure that we’re good stewards of the game in supporting the [Pennsylvania Golf Association], GAP and local associations as much as we can.”

“Elevate” is a keyword for Amateur contenders on Lancaster’s terrain.

“What I think will be noticed by players who haven’t played here before is that you fight the hill most of the day,” Gibson, 52, of Lancaster, Pa., said. “At some point on most of these holes, you have an elevated shot. The green complexes are fair but there’s a good bit of undulation, which will present some challenging hole locations. I think the players are going to really appreciate the conditioning of the golf course”

Two-time defending champion Jeremy Wall will navigate Lancaster in pursuit of history. Winning three-straight BMW Philadelphia Amateur Championships is a feat that’s never been done. In defeating Pine Valley Golf Club’s Jeff Osberg, 3&2, a year ago at Stonewall, Wall became only the 10th player in Amateur history to repeat.

“I’m excited to defend obviously. I’ve been thinking about it quite a bit because I haven’t even been playing too much golf,” Wall, a Manasquan River Golf Club member, said. “I’m starting to play on Sundays, desperately trying to find a little game like everyone else. Hopefully it’s a nice, long week at Lancaster. To win the Amateur twice was very neat, and to have the opportunity to win it a third straight time is pretty neat. Not a lot of guys could say they had a chance to win a third straight Philadelphia Amateur. It’s very exciting.”

That excitement didn’t reach the surface until Wall learned that the 120th BMW Philadelphia Amateur survived schedule cuts. GAP cancelled all of its April and May events, leaving the Amateur’s fate — and the mindset of its reigning champion — adrift.

“With each year, I’m playing less and less golf. Obviously, that takes a toll on your game,” Wall, 24, of Brielle, N.J., said. “I feel like I’m almost in the prime of my Amateur playing career. So, thinking about the possibility of not being able to defend until next year … who knows what my game is going to be like then? Before [the COVID-19 pandemic] happened, I wasn’t thinking that the Amateur would be cancelled. Then you’re almost expecting it to be cancelled, so it was a relief when I learned it would still take place.”

Wall is set to travel from the outskirts of the Jersey Shore to the heart of Pennsylvania Dutch Country. That’s a projected 142 miles — one way.

“I’d drive a lot of farther for this opportunity,” Wall said. “I feel like the more strenuous the circumstance, the better I seem to do. Obviously, last year [from Brielle, N.J. to Elverson, Pa.] was a hike, too. Carrying my own bag [for the duration of the tournament], I like to do whatever is required. If I get beat up for the week, it pushes me on farther. Doing the drive isn’t going to be a problem.”

Wall is one of eight former Amateur champions in the field. Gregor Orlando of Philadelphia Cricket Club (2017), Michael McDermott of Merion Golf Club (2008, 2013, 2016), Osberg (2014), Conrad Von Borsig of Philadelphia Cricket (2009), Phil Bartholomew of Philadelphia Cricket (2007), Scott Ehrlich of Waynesborough Country Club (2004) and Brian Gillespie of St. Davids Golf Club (2001) round out that list.

Aside from offering live scoring on its website, GAP will provide BMW Philadelphia Amateur updates via its social media outlets. Follow @GAofPhilly on Twitter and Instagram. Use the hashtag #BMWPhillyAm when posting.

The media is welcome to attend. Contact Emeno at 610-687-2340 ext. 27 or via email at memeno@gapgolf.org in advance for information regarding protocols.

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 288 Member Clubs and 75,000 individual members are spread across the Eastern half of Pennsylvania and parts of New Jersey and Delaware. The GAP’s mission is to promote, preserve and protect the game of golf.

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