2003 Mid-Am Set For The Philadelphia Cricket Club - The Golf Association of Philadelphia

May 21, 2003

2003 Mid-Am Set For The Philadelphia Cricket Club

Keeping step with recent history the youngest major on the Golf Association of Philadelphia calendar will once again begin the Championship Season and the 2003 Player of the Year race. The 20th Middle-Amateur Championship, for players 25 years of age or older, will take place May 28-29 at the Philadelphia Cricket Club’s Wissahickon Course.

   Oscar Mestre, Jr. of Overbrook Golf Club is the defending champion. The 43-year-old resident of Berwyn posted a 1-over-par 141 at Chester Valley Golf Club last spring to outlast Glenn Smeraglio of Yardley Country Club by two shots. Mestre, Smeraglio and a host of other top amateurs will head to the Cricket Club for the Mid-Am for the first time since 1990.

   “It’s a privilege and an honor to be referred to as a champion and a defending champion. It’s something you treasure and take seriously,” said Mestre, who carded the only round under par on the final day last year. “The trips to the winner’s circle aren’t that often and you want to enjoy it.”

   The GAP Middle-Amateur started in 1984, three years after the USGA created the U.S. Mid-Am as a formal championship for post-college amateurs. The Association followed suit with the USGA in creating a Mid-Am, but initially differed in its administration of the tournament in a couple of ways.

   The most obvious difference was the age requirement. Prior to 2001, the GAP Mid-Am was for players 30 years of age and older. The committee revised that age requirement in 2001 to match the USGA’s guidelines for 25 or older for eligible players. Also at that point, the committee changed the format of the event to a two-day stroke play tournament (instead of a one-day medal play event) with a cut to the low 70 players and ties after the first round. The USGA Mid-Am format consist of qualifying and match play draw.   “No one will argue it’s more of a quality event,” said Mestre on the GAP’s Mid-Am switch to two rounds. “The longer an event goes, the better test of a champion it becomes. It gives it more of a major feel.”

   Added 2001 winner Michael McDermott, 28, of Havertown, “It’s one of the biggest events of the year. With young guys like Billy Stewart (the 2002 Amateur Champion) around, it’s nice to have a tournament for working guys. The Mid-Am is really important for tow reasons. One, it’s a major and, two, it’s the first tournament of year for everybody. It can set the tone for the season.”

   In 2001, McDermott’s victory propelled him to his second straight Player of the Year trophy.

   An additional change for this year’s Mid-Am is the playoff format. In place of a sudden-death playoff, a four-hole cumulative score will resolve a championship tie this season.

   Past champions of the Mid-Am include David K. Brookreson of Huntingdon Valley CC (1986, 88), Michael Tash of Tavistock CC (1994), Michael Rose of Philmont CC (1995) and Chip Lutz of Berkshire CC (1998). Frank McFadden of Overbrook GC captured the Mid-Am the last time it was held at Philadelphia Cricket Club.

   The Cricket Club’s Wissahickon course, designed by A.W. Tillinghast, a member of the club, opened in 1922 in Flourtown, Montgomery County.

   The Cricket Club’s Militia Hill course opened last year, more than 80 years after it was first contemplated. The site for the course was purchased in 1920 along with the acreage for the Wissahickon course. The club intended to build a second course back then, but it did not become a reality until 2002.

   The return of the GAP Middle Amateur Championship to the Cricket Club will add another chapter to the long and distinguished history of one of the GAP’s four founding clubs.

   The club’s history predates golf in Philadelphia by many years, because it did start out as a cricket club in 1854. A nine-hole golf course opened in Chestnut Hill in 1895 with nine more holes added soon thereafter.

   The St. Martin’s course served as the host club for the U.S. Open in 1907, won by Alex Ross, and in 1910 by a Philadelphian, John J. McDermott. It also held the first Philadelphia Open.

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