ELVERSON, Pa.–James Kania, Jr. of Overbrook GC and Conrad Von Borsig of Concord CC, a pair of long-hitting, upstart 20 somethings, advanced to the 109th Amateur Championship final on Wednesday at Stonewall (Old Course). Kania, the 11th seed, who turned in a very workmanlike effort in search of his first Amateur title, stopped Anthony Martire of Seaview Marriott Resort & Spa, the 10th seed, 3&2, in the semis and Jeff Griest, the 30th seed from Waynesborugh CC, 3&2, in the quarters. Von Borsig, the 28th seed, who also is in search of his first Amateur crown, stunned defending champion Michael McDermott of Merion GC, 1-up, in the semifinals and Thomas Gramigna, the No. 4 seed, of Tavistock CC, 1-up.
“I was playing pretty poorly coming into this match to tell you the truth. I was hitting the ball pretty crooked and hitting a lot of loose shots. And my driver was broken [he broke his driver in his quarterfinal contest],” said Von Borsig, 22, of Swarthmore, Pa. “I felt overmatched coming in so I relaxed a little bit. I felt I had nothing to lose. Looking back on it now, I made so many up-and-downs that if I don’t make one of them he probably wins. It’s funny how the cookie crumbles sometimes. It was a great match.”
Said Kania, 20, of Haverford, Pa., “I knew I was playing well coming in but the past few years I’ve been knocked out of match play in the first round every time so I didn’t know what to expect.” Kania is in line to sculpt a piece of history on Saturday in the 36-hole final. A victory by the University of Kentucky junior would match the feat of his father James, Sr., who won the 1995 Amateur. If that were to happen, the Kanias would become the first father-son duo to both win the Association’s most prestigious title.
In fact, in the long and rich history of the Amateur, only one father-son duo has seen successive generations make a final’s appearance. Father William Hyndman, III and his son Thomas, both of Huntingdon Valley CC, are the only father-son to even reach a final. Hyndman, III earned three Amateur crowns (1935, 1958, 1965 in addition to being the runner-up in 1946) over four decades while his son, Thomas, made his lone final’s appearance in 1971.
The final begins at 8 a.m. Saturday.
Von Borsig unexpectedly dethroned McDermott with a dazzling chipping and putting game exhibition. But first he opened the semis with a power display ripping 3-wood, 3-iron on No. 1 (par 5, 530 yards) to 30 feet and making the eagle try to grab an immediate advantage. Von Borsig dropped the second hole (par 4, 429 yards) when chipping from over the green to fall back All Square and the two exchange holes No. 5 (par 3, 195 yards) and No. 6 (par 4, 439 yards) to remain even.
On No. 9, the treacherous and difficult par 3 playing 235 yards, Von Borsig started to raise some upset eyebrows. With McDermott safely on the putting surface, Von Borsig blew his 3-wood 30 yards long and over the top right bunker into the fescue. Staring at an impossible shot, Von Borsig promptly flopped a wedge to eight feet to save par. McDermott two putted for his par and the match remained All Square.
On the very next hole, No. 10 (par 4, 444 yards), Von Borsig blocked a 4-iron 30 yards right into the fescue but again pull off a miraculous chip that stopped four feet from the hole. McDermott who was in position for a par did so, but instead of being 1 or 2-up at that point the match stood All Square.
“Conrad was impressive around the greens,” said McDermott, 34, of Bryn Mawr, Pa. “Match play is funny. My first couple of matches I felt like my opponents played as well as me. This one I felt I may have played better but he made some beautiful pars. It was a good week. You put yourself in contention and see what happens. [Holes] 9 and 10 were incredible. He hit it in spots you can’t make par from.”
McDermott did use a par on No. 11 (par 5, 585 yards) to move a hole ahead, but then Von Borsig turned another potential loss into a win on No. 14 (par 4, 388 yards) to turn momentum again. This time lying in the right bunker 25 yards short of the hole in an impossible position, and with McDermott on in regulation 50 feet away, Von Borsig lofted his sand shot to a foot. McDermott three putted and the match went All Square.
On No. 17 (par 3, 134 yards), the golf gods appeared to favor Von Borsig once again, however, this time at the expense of McDermott. McDermott’s birdie try from 30 feet lipped around the hole and then rocked back toward the cup. It stopped a revolution or two short from going in. Both players made threes with one hole to go.
“Every time he looked like he was going to bury me, some miracle happened,” said Von Borsig, who recently graduated from the University of Virginia.
On No. 18 (par 4, 450 yards), and with the match still All Square, McDermott went left off the tee into the thick rough before knocking a 9-iron from 170 yards to about 40 yards short and left of the hole. Von Borsig knocked his 6-iron from 189 yards in the fairway into the right greenside bunker. And as you can well guess where this is going, got up-and-down for par. McDermott faced 15 feet or so for his par and failed to convert.
“It’s disappointing at this point because I felt my game was coming together,” said McDermott. “The disappointing part is that I played better in this match than I did in my other ones.”
“This is my fourth or fifth Amateur and I’ve never made it past the quarterfinals,” said Von Borsig. “I always felt like I had the game to make a final. When I looked at the draw I felt our half of the bracket was really strong. I saw Michael was in there and that inevitably it would come down to him sooner or later.”
In the other semifinal, Kania forged a 3-up edge after three holes and never looked back. Kania went par-bogey-par in that stretch compared to Martire’s bogey-double bogey-bogey stretch.
“It was windy early and we were kind of battling,” said Kania.
The match bounced back-and-forth with Kania no less than 2-up at any point before the University of Kentucky junior ended any drama with consecutive birdies early on the back nine. On No. 11 (par 5. 585 yards), Kania lofted a pitching wedge from 111 yards to four feet for birdie and then followed that up on No. 12 (par 4, 333 yards) with a lob wedge from 71 yards to 12 feet.
“I know all about my father’s Amateur final,” said Kania. “To win that would be cool. He taught me how to play. To win just like him would be awesome and to share it with him would be something special.”
Martire, 23, of Absecon, N.J., though short in stature, emerged in a big way in only his third Amateur.
“It’s tough when you get down in match play to really good players like we have here,” said Martire. “It’s tough to come back. It was a lot of fun this week, though, competing in matches against the best.”
28. Conrad Von Borsig, Concord CC, d. 8. Michael McDermott, Merion GC, 1-up
11. James Kania, Jr., Overbrook GC, d. 10. Anthony Martire, Seaview Marriott Resort & Spa, 3&2
8. McDermott d. 16. Christopher Ault, Yardley CC, 2-up
28. Von Borsig d. 4. Thomas Gramigna, Tavistock CC, 1-up
10. Martire d. 18. Robert Robertson, Philadelphia Cricket Club, 6&4
11. Kania, Jr., d. 30. Jeff Griest, Waynesborough CC, 3&2
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