Former finalists flourish in Week One
The reigning Playoff participants remain in the BMW GAP Team Matches spotlight after Week One.
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Defending champion Philadelphia Cricket Club 1 (1–0), LuLu Country Club 1 (1–0), Huntingdon Valley Country Club (1–0) and Merion Golf Club (1–0) all triumphed in Division AA, the event’s top tier. Philadelphia Cricket Club won its fifth BMW GAP Team Matches title (2013, 2015, 2017-18) a year ago by defeating Huntingdon Valley, LuLu and Merion in the Playoff a year ago.
Business as usual for the Cricketeers and their Playoff peers Sunday. Philadelphia Cricket 1 defeated LuLu Country Club 2 (0–1), 34.5–19.5.
“We won eight out of 12 matches, which was nice,” Conrad Von Borsig, Cricket’s captain, said. “We weren’t sure who we were going to get [on LuLu’s second team]. It was definitely a tougher match than we thought. Everyone stepped up to the plate.”
A pair of Cricket newcomers with national championship pedigree proved vital to the team’s Week One success, per Von Borsig. Alexander Kim, who qualified for the U.S. Mid-Amateur a year ago, paired with Brandon Raihl to grab 2.5 points in the better-ball portion. Stahle, who gained the Round of 64 in the U.S. Amateur a year ago, swept his singles match as well as the better-ball alongside Scott Storck.
“Tyler’s a really straight hitter, a professional player. He reminds you a lot of John Brennan,” Von Borsig, 36, of Fort Washington, Pa., said. “We felt confident in [Alex’s] level. He knew LuLu pretty well, so we paired up with Brandon. They won five of nine available points.”
The pairings will be interesting come Week Two when Philadelphia Cricket 1 faces Philadelphia Cricket 2 (1–0). A familiar, friendly commute for all.
“It’s a lucky thing, not just for the travel. We have so many great players at our club, quite a few on the same [handicap] number who can play on either team,” Von Borsig said. “It’s great to have this dress rehearsal, almost like an exhibition for our final lineup where we can make some matchups, where we can pair some guys up to see how they do head-to-head on the same golf course. it will give us some great comparisons to look at as we move into Week Three and then hopefully the Final.”
Like Philadelphia Cricket Club, LuLu also fields two teams in Division AA. And while the second of which lost, the first prevailed by a 10-point margin, 32-22, over Huntsville Golf Club (0–1). LuLu accumulated 19.5 points on the road. Three-time William Hyndman, III Player of the Year Michael R. Brown, Jr. (2010, 2018, 2022) teamed with LuLu newcomer R.J. Wren to sweep the better-ball portion. Playing in the Nos. 3 and 4 spots, respectively, Ryan Tall and Wills Montgomery followed suit with a better-ball sweep at Huntsville.
LuLu Country Club 1, the 2021 BMW GAP Team Matches titleholder, will oppose Tavistock Country Club (0–1) in Week Two.
Merion, too, dominated on the road en route to a 36.5–17.5 win over The 1912 Club (0–1). Leading the charge in the No. 1 spot, former BMW Philadelphia Amateur Champion Cole Berman (2015) won his match against two-time Middle-Amateur Champion Scott McNeil (2015, 2021).
“Cole was at a wedding in Richmond (Va.) on Saturday night. He made the drive up Sunday morning to play. That was a welcome sight,” Patrick Knott, Merion’s captain, said. “His 4:24 a.m. text saying he would be there on time made it a little bit better in the morning.”
The duo of Nelson Hargrove and Paul Liebezeit also eased any early anxiety.
“One of the keys for Merion is protecting the home course advantage we feel like we have. For Nelson and Paul to go out and get nine points out of Group One, that set the tone nicely for the rest of our team,” Knott, 37, of Haverford, Pa., said.
Merion will look to overcome another Division AA rookie when it opposes North Hills Country Club (0–1) in Week Two.
As the BMW GAP Team Matches gold standard with a record 33 titles, Huntingdon Valley is off to another hot start. It defeated LedgeRock Golf Club (0–1), 34–20.
“I thought we had good, consistent play across the board. We had a lot of guys who stepped up who don’t play on the first team always,” Andrew Mason, Huntingdon Valley’s captain, said. “We got really hot and played well at home. On the road, we kept pace enough with LedgeRock. It’s always good to get started with a win.”
Huntingdon Valley entered Week One without two of its top competitors in Conor McGrath, the 2021 BMW Philadelphia Amateur Champion, and Brian Isztwan, winner of the 2022 R. Jay Sigel Amateur Match Play Championship. Timothy Chilleri and DJ Pinciotti filled the void by taking their better-ball match at LedgeRock. Overall, Huntingdon Valley claimed four of six better-ball matches.
Next is a bout against Aronimink Golf Club (0–1) in Week Two.
“Whichever section you’re in, you’re going to have to play pretty well to get through,” Mason, 34, of Huntingdon Valley, Pa., said. “The Aronimink team has a lot of notable names. They’re as deep as they want to be. We have to play well and put our best team out there.”
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.