122nd BMW GAP Team Matches: Week Three recap - The Golf Association of Philadelphia

May 08, 2024

122nd BMW GAP Team Matches: Week Three recap

LuLu launches two teams into Playoff

The BMW GAP Team Matches Playoff is stricken with double vision.

| Week One recap | Week Two recap | Challenge Matches schedule | BMW GAP Team Matches portal |

LuLu Country Club became the second club in BMW GAP Team Matches history to send two teams to the BMW GAP Team Matches Playoff. Philadelphia Cricket Club did so in 2018.

LuLu Country Club 1 (3-0, 109 points) and LuLu Country Club 2 (2-1, 108.5 points) will compete in the Playoff, set for Saturday, May 11, against defending BMW GAP Team Matches champion Huntingdon Valley Country Club (3-0, 116 points) and Philadelphia Cricket Club 1 (3-0, 117.5 points).

The Challenge Matches is also set. Teams will have an opportunity to move from Division A to Division AA, and from Division B to Division A.

LuLu Country Club 2 (2-1, 108.5 points) gained a postseason berth courtesy of a points tiebreaker. In a soggy Week Three, it fell to Merion Golf Club (2-1, 96.5 points), 28–26. LuLu Country Club 2, Merion and Aronimink Golf Club (2-1, 76 points) bear identical records. Per BMW GAP Team Matches Rules and Regulations, points next decide a section’s Playoff representative.

LuLu Country Club 2 edged Merion by 12 points to win Section 3. Its brethren captured Section 1. Facing a win-and-in scenario, LuLu Country Club 1 handled matters accordingly by defeating LedgeRock Golf Club, 38.5–15.5, in Week Three.

The BMW GAP Team Matches Playoff includes teams from Division AA, the event’s top tier. Three players of each participating club play at each venue. Each player competes in a four-way match against one foe from another team.

“The club is very excited, and the truth is we put a lot of thought into all six of our [BMW GAP Team Matches] teams. Five of the teams finished Top 2 in their brackets. We’ve had a good season. There’s certainly more focus on the teams in Division AA,” Jim Sullivan, Jr., who serves on LuLu’s captains committee, said. “To have both teams make the Final is a great feeling. The overall sentiment is there’s another day of work to do this coming Saturday.”

“The reality is Huntingdon Valley and Philadelphia Cricket are too good for us to be thinking about each other.”

Jim Sullivan, Jr.

Entering Week Three, LuLu Country Club 2 needed a win over Merion, or a sizeable point haul to gain the Playoff. It accomplished the latter, but still needed to wait for its fate to be determined. With a hefty amount of points, Aronimink Golf Club (2-1, 76 points) clung to a conceivable chance of making the Playoff. However, it managed to eek past DuPont Country Club (0-3, 43 points), 29–25.

LuLu Country Club 2. Playoff bound. Feels like the first time.

“[LuLu Country Club] Team Two played phenomenally during these three weeks. Matt Crescenzo played great. Patrick Welsh played extremely well in Week Three,” Sullivan said. “As the scores were coming in, we knew we had a little buffer on Merion in points, but anything can happen. Carter Field and Mark Czerniakowski came in with eight out of nine points in third group at home, which sealed it for us. As a whole, the guys who played on the second team primarily are excited.”

The depth at LuLu Country Club is evident. Twenty-four strong, with rotations here and there. Add that depth to a significant home-course advantage, and the title prospects appear as robust as Foreigner’s catalog.

“We have 12 players being able to play on their home course. It’s focus; It’s not celebration at this point,” Sullivan, 49, of Glenside, Pa., said. “The reality is Huntingdon Valley and Philadelphia Cricket are just too good for us to be thinking about each other. Those two clubs won each of the last two years. We, at LuLu, felt like we had every chance to win [in 2022 and 2023], and we didn’t.”

LuLu Country Club won its first and only BMW GAP Team Matches title in 2021. Better believe both of its Playoff teams will be jostling for more than bragging rights within those rowdy clubhouse walls.

“There wasn’t much banter for LuLu [after Week Three],” Sullivan said. “If you spend time at LuLu, there is banter every day about all sorts of things. But there isn’t a lot of ‘us versus you’ in this. It’s ‘let’s figure out how LuLu can win a championship.’ Who’s going to be the best at home? Who’s going to be the best at Huntingdon Valley? Who’s going to be the best at Cricket? It’s a puzzle we’re trying to piece together. It’s fun to have the opportunity to piece it together.”

In Week Three, Huntingdon Valley, like LuLu Country Club 1, encountered a win-and-in scenario against Glenmaura National Golf Club (2-1, 95 points). It issued a convincing 37.5–16.5 victory.

“We’re thankful we got through. Everybody got points [at Glenmaura]. It wasn’t a given going in. Glenmaura has a lot of good players, and they’ve got a pretty big home advantage,” Andrew Mason, Huntingdon Valley’s captain, said. “Everybody is excited to be back in the Playoff. It should be a fun Final.”

In Week Three, Huntingdon Valley welcomed Patrick Isztwan, the 2023 BMW Philadelphia Amateur Championship runner-up, and Liam McGrath to the lineup. Both earned three singles points, respectively. 

The No. 1 spot sent the Huntingdon Valley message. At home, Brian Isztwan earned 2.5 singles points. Benjamin Cooley did the same at Glenmaura National. Cooley, of note, culled 8.5 singles points across three weeks of play. That ranks second on the Huntingdon Valley team behind a hot-blooded Mason, the 2011 William Hyndman, III Player of the Year.

“These things can go either way. I paired up with some great people. Sean Ryan played great the first two weeks, and Liam McGrath shot a few over [par] in really tough conditions [in Week Three],” Mason, 35, of Conshohocken, Pa., said. “Having him and Sean be a partner for these better-ball points is the only reason you’d see me near the top. Put yourself further down the lineup, and pair yourself with good people is the key.”

Fifteen individuals represented the Huntingdon Valley team across three weeks of play. Lineup decisions will be critical as Huntingdon Valley eyes a record 35th BMW GAP Team Matches title.

“It’s going to be fun. I feel like we have a little bit of a home-field advantage, so we’ll play some guys who are traditionally at home,” Mason said. “At Cricket, we’ll play the guys who can hit it farther. At LuLu, we’ll play the guys who can handle the atmosphere.”

Perhaps the hottest team entering the Playoff is Philadelphia Cricket Club 1. Its average margin of victory across three weeks of Team Matches play: 24 points. It led all of Division AA with 117.5 points.

In Week Three, Philadelphia Cricket Club 1 thumped Whitemarsh Valley Country Club (0.5-2.5, 56.5 points), 43 –11, to reach the Playoff for the fourth straight year.

“We’re really excited, hungry. Week Three was a tough day in the rain, but I think we played really well overall. It was probably our best match of the year, getting a lot of guys going,” Conrad Von Borsig, Philadelphia Cricket’s captain, said. “There’s optimism and hunger to get back from last year, when we had the most points in AA but came up short in the Final. There’s an underdog mentality that is back, which is definitely better than being the odds-on favorite.”

Like Huntingdon Valley, Philadelphia Cricket Club 1 relied upon 15 individuals across three weeks. It lost only four of the 18 better-ball matches. A sixth BMW GAP Team Matches title (2013, 2015, 2017-18, 2022) isn’t necessarily a long, long way from home.

“As we turn to the Playoff, the number one thing we talked about is what are we going to do at Huntingdon Valley? We got completely decimated there last year. We only scored three and a half points,” Von Borsig, 37, of Fort Washington, Pa., said. “The lesson learned was we need people who are veterans, who are not intimated by that tough golf course, who have experience there. We completely overhauled the lineup to focus there to people who we trust, people who raised their hand and want to play Huntingdon Valley.”

Protecting Philadelphia Cricket Club, Von Borsig added, is urgent. So is determining the best Cricketeers — six total — to send to LuLu.

Let the head games begin.

BMW GAP Team Matches
The genesis of GAP’s founding in 1897, the BMW GAP Team Matches started with Belmont Golf Association (Aronimink Golf Club today), Merion Cricket Club, Philadelphia Country Club and Philadelphia Cricket fielding a first and second team with six players per side. Merion Cricket’s top squad earned the traditional winner’s wooden plaque. First known as the Interclub Team Matches, the event changed to the Suburban League Matches in 1915 before adopting its current moniker in 1997. BMW has served as the event’s presenting sponsor since 2015. The BMW GAP Team Matches has been contested annually since 1897, save World War II (1943-45), a severe ice storm (1994) and the COVID-19 pandemic (2020). 

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 345 Member Clubs and 110,000 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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