Galloway’s Clark leaves Amateur mark
LANCASTER, Pa. — Flashback to the 2012 Junior-Junior Boys’ Championship.
That’s the last point you’ll see the name “Lukas Clark” in a GAP match play bracket. It was the only reference prior to the 120th BMW Philadelphia Amateur Championship at Lancaster Country Club.
Clark, a rising senior at Penn State University, resurfaced like a 1980s actor in an episode of “The Goldbergs.” He advanced to the quarterfinals, where he fell to eventual finalist Zach Barbin of Loch Nairn Golf Club, 3&2.
“It was good to be back out here again. I played well almost every round,” Clark, 21, of Holland, Pa., said. “If there was a way I wanted to lose, then it was today against Zach. He played very well. I had one bogey.”
Clark’s card validates his confidence. His lone misstep occurred on No. 12 (par 3, 182 yards). Standing 2-down, Clark targeted a challenging front hole location. A bisecting creek intervened. He matched — never overshadowed — Barbin’s impervious play thereafter.
En route to the quarterfinals, Clark qualified as the No. 6 seed with a score of even-par 70. He then dispatched 2017 Amateur runner-up Grant Skyllas, 4&3, in the Round of 32 and 2010 Pennysyania Golf Association Amateur Champion Cory Siegfried, 5&4, in the Round of 16.
Clark’s run at Lancaster is his first GAP imprint since the aforementioned 2012 Junior-Junior Boys’ Championship. He fell to friend and fellow Amateur match-play qualifier Nate Menon, 6&5, in the Final that year. Missed cuts and opportunities followed.
“I’ve struggled in the past in some GAP events. I haven’t been able to make the cut at the Philly Am before, but I feel like I’m one of the better players in the Philadelphia area,” Clark, a recreation, park tourism and management major at Penn State, said. “It was good to get my name out there. That’s kind of what I wanted to do this summer: expand my name and show everyone that I can play the way I did today.”
The 120th BMW Philadelphia Amateur Championship marked Clark’s first tournament since March 10. He tied for 44th in the General Hackler Championship at The Dunes Golf & Beach Club in Myrtle Beach, S.C. Despite the layoff, Clark showed minimal rust at Lancaster. Credit a sturdy practice-and-play plan and a strong support system at Galloway National, where Clark caddies for summer work as well.
Talk about timing. As Clark elaborates, Peter Barron, III, a fellow Galloway member and Amateur quarterfinalist, exits Lancaster’s pro shop. He smiles and approaches Clark. Social distancing, of course, given the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Did you win?” Barron asks.
“No, I didn’t,” Clark responds.
Without hesitation, Barron adds, “If you hurry up, you can make the game.”
The game being a 20-25-person intraclub contest at Galloway National.
“There are a lot of guys out there who keep me sharp. Just kind of playing with them, seeing how your game is compared theirs has made a difference,” Clark said. “Our Director of Golf, Jason Lamp, has been a great help of mine, too. He emphasizes hitting fairways more than hitting it 330 yards to the side. It’s a great place for me. If you can hang at Galloway and play well there, then you can play well anywhere.”
The flash from Clark’s Amateur quarterfinal crystal is evidence.
Celebrating Amateur Golf since 1897, GAP, also known as the Golf Association of Philadelphia, is the oldest regional or state golf association in the United States. It serves as the principal ruling body of amateur golf in its region. The Association’s 288 Member Clubs and 75,000 individual members are spread across the Eastern half of Pennsylvania and parts of New Jersey and Delaware. The GAP’s mission is to promote, preserve and protect the game of golf.