Jun 14, 2007

Bartholomew, McGuinness ready for Amateur showdown

MALVERN, Pa.–Bill McGuinness of Tavistock CC is experiencing a serious case of déjà vu. The 1996 Amateur Champion needs just one more win for his second title in 11 years and the parallels between this trip and his prior final’s appearance rates as a tad bizarre. First the facts. McGuinness advanced to the 107th Amateur Championship Title Match with a hard-fought 3&2 victory over Philip Arouca of Philadelphia Publinks GA on Thursday at Applebrook GC. His opponent, and the other semifinal winner, is Philip Bartholomew of Yardley CC, who punched his ticket to Saturday’s 36-hole final with a draining 3&1 win over close friend and clubmate Mark Miller. It will be Bartholomew’s first trip to an Amateur final.

  The final match begins at 8 a.m.

  “I can’t believe it,” said McGuinness, 47, of Woodbury, N.J. “Monday a week ago, I’m on the back of the Llanerch green [in the Philadelphia Team Championship qualifier] disgusted with my golf. And a week later I’m the Jersey Amateur champ and now I’m here.” He posted an 80 that Monday at Llanerch CC. In fact, his score wasn’t even used in the team’s qualifying total.

  Wednesday a week later, McGuinness capped a come-back-behind, two-stroke victory in the New Jersey State Golf Association Amateur Championship. Today, his strong, and at times spectacular, play carried him closer to an impressive Amateur daily double.

  The comparisons to McGuinness’ prior run are freaky.

  In 1996, he defeated Chris Hoyle of Llanerch CC, 2&1, for the title. That year, he captured his only other New Jersey Amateur Championship; defeated Neil McDermott in the second round of the GAP Amateur and played the final on Sunday because weather that week altered plans to the schedule. This year, the New Jersey Amateur title is already his; he needed to defeat Neil’s son Michael in the second round and severe weather forced matches to drag out a day longer than originally scheduled. 

  Is it fate? “Why not,” said McGuinness, seeded No. 12 after qualifying.

  McGuinness’ talents are more likely the reason for his success.

  Against Arouca, 21, of Wilmette, Ill., the ninth seed, McGuinness found himself 2-down after three holes before slowly erasing the deficit and pushing ahead. On No. 4 (par 4, 416 yards), Arouca three-putted from 30 foot after starting in the middle swale to the back hole location and McGuinness, who knocked his approach over, hit a nice little touchy lob to five feet for par.

  “I breathed a sigh of relief after that hole,” said McGuinness. “I said, ok, you’re back in the game.”

  McGuinness drained a fantastic 15-foot par saver on No. 5 (par 3, 204 yards) after missing the green short right and hitting a poor chip shot. At the time, Arouca had only five feet for his three.

  McGuinness drew even on No. 6 (par 4, 394 yards) with a 10-foot conceded birdie after knocking his 9-iron from 140 yards onto the green. Arouca struggled and made double-bogey from the fairway. 

  On No. 7 (par 4, 464 yards), McGuinness moved ahead for good with a par and some more Arouca troubles, this time with the left greenside hazard. McGuinness made the turn 1-up.

  A smooth 2-iron form 235 yards on the par 5, 10th hole (528 yards) gave McGuinness a 20-foot eagle chance and put the pressure on Arouca to do something special from the fairway. Arouca, however, left his approach in the front bunker and failed to get up-and-down. A nice par by Arouca on No. 13 (par 4, 368 yards) cut his deficit in half, however, McGuinness responded immediately when he put his 4-iron from 185 yards out on the difficult, bending hole to 20 feet. Arouca came up short of the green and made bogey.

  Two more pars by each brought the match to 16. McGuinness hit his second shot on the par 5, 575-yard hole into the front rough and was left with a 115 yards to the green. Arouca put his third shot 15 feet below and left of the hole. McGuinness played save and was left with a 50-foot birdie try. Somehow he made it when the ball trickled in on its last revolution. Arouca could not.

  “I’m very happy. Coming in I had no idea what I was going to do,” said Arouca. “Bill is the perfect match play player. He doesn’t do much wrong. He makes you win the hole with a birdie. You have to on your game to beat him.”

  The only certainty in the Bartholomew-Miller matchup was that a Yardley CC representative would be in the final for a second straight year. Last year, Paul Rogowicz made it to the last match.

  Miller, seeded 14th, was 1-up after two holes, but Bartholomew evened the match quickly with a birdie on No. 3 (par 4, 306 yards). A par on No. 4 (par 4, 416 yards) and a long birdie on No. 7 (par 4, 464 yards) pushed Bartholomew, the seven seed, 2-up before Miller won No. 8 (par 5, 576 yards). Bartholomew was 1-up after nine holes.

  On No. 10, Miller made five from the greenside bunker and Bartholomew three-putted for bogey to put the match All Square. However, Bartholomew immediately regained the advantage when he hit a pitching wedge from 111 yards to five feet. The 13th hole (par 4, 451 yards) then provided the biggest swing of the match when Bartholomew was forced to punch out from the left fescue with his second shot. Miller laid perfectly in the fairway on his drive but watched his long iron approach land just short and right of the hole. Bartholomew knocked his wedge to four feet and made a smooth par. Miller, putting downhill, knocked his third across the green and into the collar. He eventually would make bogey.

  “I put myself in the wrong positions from the wrong spots and its tough to make a good number from there,” said Miller, 21, of Levittown, Pa. “He played great. He kept himself cool. He played very confident and outplayed me.”

  Added Bartholomew, “That’s where the match turned for me.”

  Miller got one back on the treacherous 14th (par 4, 451 yards) when he rocketed a 7-iron from 150 yards to five feet for birdie, but Bartholomew made a nice up-and-down from the left rough on No. 15 (par 3, 218 yards) and then increased his advantage by going for No. 16 in two and coming up just short of the hole. Bartholomew hit a 4-iron from 240 yards to just short of the green and chipped up to four feet for birdie. Miller registered only a par after laying back with his tee shot.

  On No. 17 (par 3, 175 yards), Bartholomew hit a 7-iron on the blind tee shot to five feet for the win.

  “Last night I talked to my dad a little bit about it. I walked out the door this morning. He said keep your emotions in check,” said Bartholomew, 19, of Yardley CC, about playing Miller. “At first I thought it didn’t matter. We were joking around on the range. I finally told myself by the third hole that you have to buckle down and realize an opponent is an opponent.”

  Bartholomew and Miller play at least four times a week together at Yardley CC.

12. William McGuinness, Tavistock CC, d. 9. Philip Arouca, Philadelphia Publinks GA, 3&2
7. Philip Bartholomew, Yardley CC, d. 14. Mark Miller, Yardley CC, 3&1

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