ELVERSON, Pa.–Michael McDermott’s Amateur Championship repeat bid is alive and well. The 2008 Amateur Champion defeated Brian Gillespie of St. Davids GC, the 2001 Amateur winner, 2&1, in the Round of 16 on Tuesday at Stonewall (Old Course). McDermott, seeded No. 8 after Monday’s Amateur Qualifier, will face Christopher Ault of Yardley CC, the 16th seed, in a quarterfinal matchup tomorrow at 8 a.m.
McDermott is looking to become the first back-to-back winner of the Amateur since Chris Lange of Overbrook GC did so in 1993-94.
“Last year I was really playing solid and shooting under par in every round [at Whitemarsh Valley CC], kind of like you expect when you are winning,” said McDermott, 34, of Bryn Mawr, Pa. “This year I’m just trying to win matches and hopefully find a swing. I’m really taking it one match at a time. I knew coming in to today both Brians were going to be tough.”
In addition to Gillespie, McDermott defeated Brian Creghan of Blue Bell CC, 2&1, in the Round of 32 earlier in the day.
On Wednesday, four quarterfinal contests precede the two semifinal matches. The semis are set for 12:30 p.m. and 12:45 p.m.
McDermott, a five-time William Hyndman, III Player of the Year, appeared to find what he’s been looking for in this year’s Amateur, the 109th edition, playing a solid opening nine against Gillespie while compiling a 3-up advantage. McDermott won holes No. 11 (par 5, 582 yards) – the match started on the back nine – with a birdie after chipping it tight for a conceded four; No. 13 (par 4, 450 yards) with another conceded birdie after Gillespie had issues and carded a six; No. 14 (par 4, 390 yards) with a birdie on a sand wedge from 100 yards that stopped six feet from the hole and No. 17 (par 3, 130 yards) after registering a three when Gillespie failed to get up-and-down from the greenside bunker. McDermott’s lone hiccup came on No. 16 (par 4, 460 yards) when he pulled his drive left and dropped the hole with a six.
“I’m feeling good after [the front],” said McDermott. “We both then birdied No. 1 (par 5, 529 yards), we both played the hole well, and I started counting holes at that point. And then it sort of came undone.”
Gillespie also did his part to help the unraveling.
On No. 2 (par 4, 427 yards), Gillespie made a fantastic up-and-down and McDermott three-putted to cut the deficit to 2-down. Two more Gillespie pars coupled with two holes of McDermott struggles brought the match to No. 5 (par 3, 183 yards), the 14th hole, All Square.
“I had a nice stretch of pars and Michael made a few mistakes and was able to even the match up,” said Gillespie, 34, of Wayne, Pa. “I knew, however, that Michael is not the kind of player you waltz in with pars and are going to beat. You need to make birdies.”
With that aggressive mind set, Gillespie pushed his 8-iron on No. 5 a touch right and landed in the hazard. McDermott found the center of the green with his 8-iron tee ball and two putted for par. Gillespie made five and McDermott moved 1-up. On No. 6 (par 4, 435 yards), Gillespie put himself in prime position to even the match once again, staring at a 10-foot birdie chance with McDermott needing a 3½ footer to save par after missing the green with his approach. However, Gillespie charged his first attempt and ran the birdie try by eight feet. He missed the comebacker and McDermott converted his par save to move 2-up.
On the treacherous No. 8 (par 4, 430 yards), perhaps the most difficult hole at Stonewall, both players smacked amazing approach shots. McDermott, up first from the right side of the fairway sent his 8-iron from 180 yards to five feet left of the hole. Gillespie, whose drive landed in the fescue 125 yards out, hacked a miraculous wedge to 10 feet that ran right by the cup’s edge. Gillespie went first and made it. McDermott followed and dropped in his try on top for the win.
“I almost had a heart attack after Brian’s shot in there,” said McDermott. “To make a three on that hole 2-up in the match and potentially lose the hole would have been crazy.”
Added Gillespie, “I’d be lying to you if I told you I didn’t look ahead [on the bracket to a possible match with McDermott]. You always want the chance to beat the best player but you can’t do that if you don’t play your best.”
Gillespie advanced to the Round of 16 with a, 3&2, victory over Scott Storck of Philadelphia Cricket Club.
McDermott’s next opponent, Ault, 23, of Yardley, Pa., returns to the quarterfinals for the first time since the 2006 Amateur at Torresdale-Frankford CC.
The winner of their quarterfinal matchup will face the victor of the Thomas Gramigna-Conrad Von Borsig match.
Gramigna, 39, of Tavistock CC, the No. 4 seed, defeated Matthew Mattare of Saucon Valley CC, the 13th seed, 3&2, in the Round of 16.
Von Borsig, 22, of Concord CC and Swarthmore, Pa., stopped William McGuinness of Tavistock CC, the 1996 Amateur Champion, in 19 holes. Von Borsig, a recent University of Virginia graduate who entered match play as the 28th seed, also reached the Amateur quarterfinals at Torresdale as well as at Cedarbrook CC in 2005.
In the bottom half of the bracket, four youngsters remain alive.
Robert Robertson, 18, of Philadelphia Cricket Club, seeded No. 18, upended Ryan McCarty, 24, of Little Mill CC, the 31st seed, in the Round of 16 and will face Anthony Martire of Seaview Marriott Resort & Spa.
Martire, 23 of Absecon, N.J., the 10th seed, survived an agonizing match with veteran P. Chet Walsh of Philadelphia CC, the seventh seed, to advance. Martire missed a four-foot bogey putt on No. 18 (par 4, 448 yards) for the win before rebounding and closing Walsh out two extra holes later.
Griest, of Waynesborough CC, the lowest seed remaining at No. 30, defeated Mark Miller of Yardley CC, 6&5. This is the deepest Amateur appearance for the 22-year-old Glen Mills, Pa., resident. Griest will match up against James Kania, Jr. of Overbrook GC, the No. 11 seed. Kania, 20, a junior at the University of Kentucky, defeated Justin Martinson of Hartefeld National, 2&1. This is the deepest Kania has advanced in the Amateur, having lost in the first round three previous times.
NOTES–McCarty drained a remarkable 70-foot bogey putt on No. 9 (par 3, 222 yards), the 18th hole of the match, to stun No. 2 seed Michael Kania of Overbrook GC, 1-up … qualifying medallist Michael Hyland of Little Mill CC fell to Doug Marcincin of Northampton CC, the 32nd and final seed who advanced to match play in a playoff, 2&1 … the low three scorers from Monday’s qualifier all dropped their first-round contests. In addition to Hyland, Michael Kania of Overbrook GC and Cole Willcox of Philadelphia CC also were eliminated.
Round of 16
16. Chris Ault, Yardley CC, d. 32. Doug Marcincin, Northampton CC, 2&1
8. Michael McDermott, Merion GC, d. 9. Brian Gillespie, St. Davids GC, 2&1
4. Thomas Gramigna, Tavistock CC, d. 13. Matthew Mattare, Saucon Valley CC, 3&2
28. Conrad Von Borsig, Concord CC, d. 12. William McGuinness, Tavistock CC, 19 holes
18. Robert Robertson, Philadelphia Cricket Club, d. 21. Ryan McCarty, Little Mill CC, 6&5
10. Anthony Martire, Seaview Marriott Resort & Spa, d. 7. P. Chet Walsh, Philadelphia CC, 20 holes
30. Jeff Griest, Waynesborough CC, d. 19. Mark Miller, Yardley CC, 6&5
11. James Kania, Jr., Overbrook GC, d. 6. Justin Martinson, Hartefeld National, 2&1
Round of 32
32. Marcincin d. 1. Michael Hyland, Little Mill CC, 2-up
16. Ault d. 17. Edward McCrossen, Jr., Whitemarsh Valley CC, 6&5
8. McDermott d. 25. Brian Creghan, Blue Bell CC, 2&1
9. Gillespie d. 24. Scott Storck, Philadelphia Cricket Club, 3&2
4. Gramigna d. 29. Gary Daniels, Saucon Valley CC, 1-up
13. Mattare d. 20. Rodney James, Five Ponds GC, 2&1
28. Von Borsig d. 5. Robert Galbreath, Jr., Huntingdon Valley CC, 1-up
12. McGuinness d. 21. Matt Dolinsky, Honeybrook GC, 4&2
31. McCarty d. 2. Michael Kania, Overbrook GC, 1-up
18. Robertson d. 15. Pierce Dever, Jericho National GC, 7&5
7. Walsh d. 26. John Brennan, Spring Ford CC, 4&3
10. Martire d. 23. Matthew Teesdale, Commonwealth National GC, 3&1
30. Griest d. 3. Cole Willcox, Philadelphia CC, 4&2
19. Miller d. 14. Chris Lange, Overbrook GC, 19 holes
6. Martinson d. 27. Glenn Smeraglio, Commonwealth National GC, 3&2
11. Kania, Jr. d. 22. Thomas Bartolacci, Jr., Saucon Valley CC, 5&4
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