HADDONFIELD, N.J.–Michael Brown needed a four-hole playoff but eventually the 36-year-old Cheltenham, Pa., resident delivered a championship performance. The Philadelphia Publinks GA member defeated home-club hopeful Sean Leonard on Thursday at Tavistock CC (par 72, 6,797 yards) in an aggregate playoff (19-17 strokes on holes 10-11-17-18) for the 26th Middle-Amateur Championship. For Brown, who was reinstated as an amateur at the end of 2007, it was his first Golf Association of Philadelphia Major title.
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“It’s slightly unexpected,” said a surprisingly subdued Brown afterward. “I’m new to amateur golf in this area. I don’t even know a lot of these guys. I know of them because I read about them. I’m happy to be back. There are a lot of very strong players in the Philadelphia area and I’m looking forward to playing against them regularly.”
Both players ended regulation at even-par 144 after two rounds. Leonard carded a final round 1-under-par 71 including a magnificent birdie on the treacherous No. 18 (par 4, 435 yards). Brown, who started the round a shot-back of the leader, was in control of the tournament most of the day and, in fact, had a three-stroke lead at one point mid-way through the back nine, finished with a 73. He bogeyed three of his final six holes.
“It was cool. My grandfather who is 87 years old was out here,” said Leonard, who had about two dozen supporters following him in the playoff. “We’re proud to host this event. It’s nice. I wish I could have won but … I’m pleased. I haven’t been playing much golf. I ran for commissioner of Haddonfield, [N.J.] and for the last two months I’ve been doing nothing but going to people’s houses and campaigning. And my wife and I had a baby girl a week ago today.”
In the playoff, both players carded routine pars on Nos. 10 (par 4, 328 yards) and 11 (par 4, 426 yards) before Brown took control on the par 5, 17th (490 yards), the third extra hole. Brown found the middle of the fairway with his drive while Leonard went left and short of the fairway bunker, some 232 yards away. Leonard then knocked a hybrid about 40 yards short of the green and Brown, with a 4-iron and 180 yards left, sent his second shot long and over the putting surface. Leonard’s chip stopped short of the green and his ensuing putt from the front fringe left him with five feet. He missed for a bogey six. Brown showed some nice touch on a delicate downhill chip from about 40 feet and just off the green that ended 10 above the hole. He made a three-foot comebacker for a par and a one-shot lead with one hole to go.
On No. 18, both players found the fairway. Leonard played first and had 181 yards left. His 6-iron landed some 45 feet right of the hole. Brown had 147 yards and with an 8-iron in-hand knocked his approach to 25 feet. Leonard would go on to three putt, he left his first try eight feet short, and Brown would two putt for the victory.
“I don’t know Sean but I did know he was from Tavistock CC,” said Brown, who served as assistant professional at North Hills CC for seven years before heading back to the amateur ranks. He also competed on the Canadian Professional Golf Tour, played in South America and attempted PGA Q-School three times. “I knew there would be a lot of support in his direction [in the playoff]. I was fine with that. I was focused and fairly confident because I controlled [my emotions] for the first 18 holes so that wasn’t really an issue. For me at this point it’s physical. [My swing] may look OK but I don’t feel OK physically. The positions on my golf swing feel out of whack.
“[The playoff] was pretty uneventful the first couple of holes. Then I was given a good opportunity after 17. I didn’t expect to be one shot up after that hole. Eighteen is a difficult par 4 and I just tried to stay committed. I had that shot this morning, that tee shot, and I was able to pull it off.”
Said Leonard, 35, of Haddonfield, N.J., “Like Chris Lange [a member of his group] said on the first tee, things are a little more inconsequential when you have a little baby [at home]. Of course, you want to win, and certainly I wanted to win because you don’t get too many chances.”
This was Leonard’s top Golf Association of Philadelphia Major finish as well.
Brown appeared to have the Championship won in regulation, but on No. 18 three putted from 45 feet to drop back into a tie with Leonard. It was Leonard, playing in the group in front of Brown, who made a dramatic 20-foot birdie to post even par as the low number. In fact, Leonard was 3 under on his final nine to get back into contention.
The story lines were plentiful throughout a postcard weather day.
* Michael McDermott, 34, of Merion GC, the reigning Middle-Amateur Champion and a three-time winner of the event, entered Round 2 as the favorite and with a one-shot lead. The Bryn Mawr, Pa., resident bogeyed the first hole after a poor drive and never recovered, shooting a shocking 77 and falling into a tie for seventh.
* Brian Gillespie, 34, of St. Davids GC and Wayne, Pa., a top player who has been surprisingly quiet in championships the past couple of seasons, reemerged on the scene in a big way and came to No. 18 at even par for the event. However, he pulled a wedge from 138 yards into the front, left greenside bunker and would then three putt to finish at 2-over par in a tie for fourth.
* Chip Lutz, 54, of LedgeRock GC and Reading, Pa., carded three birdies and no bogeys in his first 17 holes to get to 1 over for the Middle-Amateur but ran his 25-foot birdie try on No. 18 by four feet, lost his focus a bit and registered a bogey to finish at 2 over as well.
* Tom Borsello of Fieldstone GC and Wilmington, Del., who turned 55 in January and recently returned to competitive golf after taking about three years off from the game citing burn out, birdied his final two holes, including a chip in on No. 18 from about 70 feet to finish at 2-over par.
* Gregg Angelillo, 38, of Moselem Springs GC and Hoboken, N.J., started the day in second and despite a 3-over-par 39 on the front nine, gutted out a 1-under effort on the back to place third, his top Golf Association of Philadelphia Major finish.
The Middle-Amateur is for players 25 years of age and older. It is a two-day, 36-hole tournament.
Founded in 1897, the Golf Association of Philadelphia (GAP) is the oldest regional golf association in the United States and serves as the principal ruling body of amateur golf in its region. Its 134 Member Clubs and 56,000 individual members are spread across parts of Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware and Maryland. The purpose of the Association is simple: To promote, protect and preserve the game of golf in the region.
|Name||Club||Rd. 1||Rd. 2||Total|
|*Michael Brown||Philadelphia Publinks GA||71||73||144|
|Sean Leonard||Tavistock Country Club||73||71||144|
|Gregg Angelillo||Moselem Springs Golf Club||71||74||145|
|Brian Gillespie||St. Davids Golf Club||75||71||146|
|Tom Borsello||Fieldstone Golf Club||74||72||146|
|Chip Lutz||LedgeRock Golf Club||76||70||146|
|Rand Mendez||Fieldstone Golf Club||74||73||147|
|Christopher Lange||Overbrook Golf Club||72||75||147|
|Michael McDermott||Merion Golf Club||70||77||147|
|Glenn Smeraglio||Commonwealth National Golf Club||76||72||148|
|Matthew Finger||Running Deer Golf Club||75||75||150|
|Paul Rogowicz||Yardley Country Club||75||75||150|
|John Brennan||Spring Ford Country Club||74||76||150|
|William Lawler||Fox Hill Country Club||74||77||151|
|Oscar Mestre||Overbrook Golf Club||76||75||151|
|Ryan Gelrod||Commonwealth National Golf Club||74||77||151|
|Gerry Baldachino||Olde York Country Club||75||77||152|
|G. Patrick Dougherty||Talamore Country Club||77||75||152|
|Joseph Russo||Running Deer Golf Club||75||77||152|
|Thomas Gramigna||Tavistock Country Club||77||75||152|
|James Donnelly||Merion Golf Club||75||78||153|
|David Shields||Philadelphia Publinks GA||81||72||153|
|David Liotta||Whitemarsh Valley Country Club||77||76||153|
|Robert Harrington||Merion Golf Club||76||78||154|
|Chris Esbenshade||Bent Creek Country Club||77||77||154|
|Steven Budenz||Yardley Country Club||78||76||154|
|Alexander Maguire, Jr.||Brookside Country Club||80||74||154|
|Jim Rattigan||Schuylkill Country Club||78||76||154|
|Matthew Gaffney||Little Mill Country Club||74||80||154|
|Scott Bergson||Little Mill Country Club||77||77||154|
|Thomas Hyland||Little Mill Country Club||75||80||155|
|Peter Moran||Edgmont Country Club||79||76||155|
|Brian Rothaus||Talamore Country Club||78||77||155|
|Thomas DiCinti||Links Golf Club||80||75||155|
|Mike Owsik||McCall Golf & Country Club||81||75||156|
|Justin Van Hyning||Olde York Country Club||73||83||156|
|Michael Tash||Tavistock Country Club||78||78||156|
|William McGuinness||Tavistock Country Club||79||77||156|
|Mark Kosko||Seaview Marriott Resort & Spa||77||80||157|
|Scott Orr||Brookside Country Club||77||80||157|
|Marlin Detweiler||Lancaster Country Club||79||78||157|
|Byron Whitman||Golden Oaks Golf Club||78||79||157|
|Jeff DellaFranco||Concord Country Club||79||78||157|
|P. Chet Walsh||Philadelphia Country Club||74||83||157|
|Charles Scalzott||Huntingdon Valley Country Club||79||78||157|
|Robin McCool||Saucon Valley Country Club||79||78||157|
|Douglas Zelner||Spring Ford Country Club||81||76||157|
|Stephen McIntyre||Honeybrook Golf Club||76||81||157|
|David West||Whitford Country Club||77||80||157|
|Johan van Schalkwyk||Burlington Country Club||81||77||158|
|Daniel Pinciotti, Jr.||Huntingdon Valley Country Club||80||78||158|
|Rich Pruchnik||West Chester Golf & Country Club||77||82||159|
|Buddy Reed||DuPont Country Club||79||80||159|
|James Kieserman||The Bucks Club||80||80||160|
|Ken Matt||Philadelphia Publinks GA||78||82||160|
|John Simone||Philmont Country Club||76||84||160|
|Lance Oberparleiter||Wedgwood Country Club||80||80||160|
|Todd Vonderheid||Huntsville Golf Club||81||79||160|
|Jack Wallace||Burlington Country Club||78||83||161|
|Mike Danner||Lu Lu Country Club||73||88||161|
|David Livermore||Greate Bay Country Club||80||81||161|
|Michael Domenick||Phoenixville Country Club||77||84||161|
|Ed Chylinski||Chester Valley Golf Club||78||83||161|
|Tom Piersanti||Saucon Valley Country Club||80||83||163|
|Matthew Shevlin||Philadelphia Publinks GA||78||85||163|
|Scott Klee||Indian Valley Country Club||79||84||163|
|Bill Turner||Philadelphia Publinks GA||81||82||163|
|Chris Parmer||Olde York Country Club||80||84||164|
|R. Blake Slawecki||Spring Ford Country Club||81||83||164|
|John Aloisio||Seaview Marriott Resort & Spa||81||83||164|
|Ajai Sirohi||Mercer Oaks Golf Course||81||83||164|
|John Robinson||Commonwealth National Golf Club||79||87||166|
|Sean Sexton||Philadelphia Publinks GA||81||87||168|
|Lee Grout||Whitemarsh Valley Country Club||81||88||169|
|Andy Achenbach||RiverCrest Golf Club & Preserve||76||WD||WD|
|*-won in playoff|