BETHLEHEM, Pa.–For a second straight year, youth will be served in the Amateur Championship Final.
And for a second consecutive year, a Kania will look to have his name engraved on the J. Wood Platt Championship trophy.
|Justin Martinson of Hartefeld National escapes the|
greenside bunker on No. 8 (par 4, 425 yards) during
his semifinal match with Tom Gramigna of Tavistock CC.
Michael Kania of Overbrook GC, the 19-year-old younger brother of last year’s runner-up James, Jr., and Justin Martinson, 21, a senior at the University of Delaware, will meet in the 110th Amateur Championship Final Match at 8 a.m. on Saturday at Saucon Valley CC’s Old Course.
Kania slayed giant-killer Jeff Osberg of Llanerch CC, who qualified 32nd and last before making a run to the semis, 3&2, while Martinson ended Tom Gramigna of Tavistock CC’s Grand Slam quest with a 4&2 victory. Gramigna is the reigning Golf Association of Philadelphia Middle-Amateur Champion.
Kania, of Haverford, Pa., is looking to join his father James, Sr., who won the 1995 Amateur, as the first father-son duo to both win the Amateur Championship. James, Sr., took the 1995 Amateur. Martinson is looking to start his own tradition.
“I’m definitely really excited. It’s a great opportunity,” said the soft-spoken Kania. “I’ve never made it past the first round before. My dad taught us everything about the game from the actual swing to how you compose yourself on the course to strategy. It’s really an embodiment to him, how James and I have succeeded.”
Said Martinson, “It feels great. Last year was a little disappointing I got knocked out the first day of match play. It feels like redemption.” This is only Martinson’s second Amateur Championship appearance.
Although Kania grabbed an early lead on No. 3 (par 4, 374 yards) with a four, it was Osberg who found himself 1-up with par victories on Nos. 7 (par 4, 456 yards) and 8 (par 4, 425 yards).
“Yesterday I really struggled with my mental game and emotions so today I really tried to focus when I hit some shots that didn’t turn out right and move on from it,” said Kania. “The two holes I lost [with bogeys] I hit perfect iron shots. The one time my caddie told me to hit 6-iron and I hit 5-iron over the green. On No. 8, I was in the rough and I wasn’t sure with the wind. I was afraid I would catch a flyer. I tried to hit an easy 9-iron. I was eyeing it, and it came up short and in the bunker.”
Kania, who displayed a marvelous bunker and short game touch in stopping the tournament rampaging Osberg, used his sand skills on No. 9 (par 3 216 yards) to get back on track. After landing his tee ball in the left front bunker, and with the ultra-long hitting Osberg staring at a 10-foot birdie try to move two ahead, Kania splashed out to inches. Osberg missed his birdie putt and Kania escaped further damage.
“I knew that was a big hole. I mean he’s in there tight for birdie,” said Kania. “Making the turn at 1-down instead of 2-down is a definite difference.”
How definite? Kania immediately erased the deficit with a birdie on No. 10 (par 4, 312 yards) when he spun a wedge from 80 yards to 12 feet below the hole. Osberg missed his 12 footer for birdie and the match was tied.
The two halved No. 11 (par 3, 167 yards) with pars before Kania made a winning push. He took No. 12 (par 4, 445 yards) with a par as Osberg failed to recover after finding the fairway bunker off the tee. On No. 14 (par 3, 181 yards), Kania stroked another masterful bunker shot from the front right that stopped three feet from hole for par. Osberg, whose 7-iron missed the green right, hit a solid flop shot, but watched it roll out to 35 feet away.
“Again, where the pin was I left it in the wrong spot, short-sided,” said Osberg, 26, of West Chester, Pa. “Michael hit a fantastic bunker shot, one of many today.”
On No. 15 (par 5, 605 yards), Kania, in essence, closed the match out with another smart and steady par.
Osberg was left in two on the crazy long par 5, chipped on and had 10 feet for birdie. Kania found the fairway, laid up 100 yards short of the green and dropped a pitching wedge to 12 feet below the hole. His birdie try just missed but Osberg conceded his par. Osberg had 2˝-feet left for his five and saw his try unexpectedly lip out.
“That was a killer,” said Osberg. “Three down with three to play, especially with the holes that were left to play that fit to my advantage. It would have felt doable at 2-down, at 3-down it’s almost only a matter of time.”
A pair of pars on No. 16 (par 4, 498 yards) sealed a handshake.
Martinson’s match almost mirrored Kania’s victory.
He trailed 1-down before wins on holes Nos. 4 (par 3, 157) and 5 (par 4, 478 yards) with pars that pushed him ahead for good. The decisive hole turned out to be No. 8 (par 4, 425 yards). Martinson was only 1-up at the time and both players had found the fairway off the tee. Martinson’s wedge from 130 yards landed short and in the front bunker and Gramigna failed to capitalize when his pitching wedge from 123 yards came up right of the green. Gramigna’s chip scooted across the putting surface to some 50 feet away and his ensuing par chance missed. Martinson chip out stopped 10 feet from the hole. Gramigna conceded Martinson’s par.
“That was the swing [hole] of the match,” said Gramigna, 40, of Haddonfield. N.J.
The pair exchanged two straight pars before Gramigna dropped an 8-iron to two feet on No. 11 (par 3, 167 yards) to close the gap to one.
“I wasn’t concerned, I like the next few holes coming up,” said Martinson of Avondale, Pa.
I guess he does.
The pair registered pars on each of the next two holes, before Martinson exploded for three straight wins.
On the uphill 14th, Martinson dropped a 5-iron 20 feet left and below the hole and made the putt.
“My caddie Tommy Ellison jokingly told me I better get it to the hole,” said Martinson. “I was leaving a lot of putts short and in the heart.” Gramigna, meanwhile, missed the green in the front right bunker and came within a few rolls of carding his own two.
On the par 5, 15th, Martinson found the green in regulation and two putted from 25 feet for par while Gramigna went long with his third and failed to get up-and-down.
Martinson closed out the match on the next hole after Gramigna found the hazard long with his second shot.
“When I play well it’s because I’m trying to smile,” said Martinson, who recently placed 13th in the NCAA Southeast Regional. “That kind of gets my mind off golf.”
12. Michael Kania, Overbrook GC d. 32. Jeff Osberg, Llanerch CC, 3&2
3. Justin Martinson, Hartefeld National d. 7. Tom Gramigna, Tavistock CC, 4&2
32. Osberg d. 24. Gregg Angelillo, Moselem Springs GC , 1-up
12. Kania d. 4. Matthew Mattare, Saucon Valley CC, 2&1
7. Gramigna d. 18. Chris Lange, Overbrook GC, 3&2
3. Martinson d. 6. Michael Hyland, Little Mill CC, 19 holes
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