May 21, 2009

Brown defeats Leonard in playoff for Middle-Amateur Championship title

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.”

Michael Brown of Philadelphia Publinks GA (left) with Mark Peterson, the GAP’s Executive Director.

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.

Sean Leonard of Tavistock CC
holds the second-place crystal.

 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.

NameClubRd. 1Rd. 2Total
*Michael BrownPhiladelphia Publinks GA7173144
Sean LeonardTavistock Country Club7371144
Gregg AngelilloMoselem Springs Golf Club7174145
Brian GillespieSt. Davids Golf Club7571146
Tom BorselloFieldstone Golf Club7472146
Chip LutzLedgeRock Golf Club7670146
Rand MendezFieldstone Golf Club7473147
Christopher LangeOverbrook Golf Club7275147
Michael McDermottMerion Golf Club7077147
Glenn SmeraglioCommonwealth National Golf Club7672148
Matthew FingerRunning Deer Golf Club7575150
Paul RogowiczYardley Country Club7575150
John BrennanSpring Ford Country Club7476150
William LawlerFox Hill Country Club7477151
Oscar MestreOverbrook Golf Club7675151
Ryan GelrodCommonwealth National Golf Club7477151
Gerry BaldachinoOlde York Country Club7577152
G. Patrick DoughertyTalamore Country Club7775152
Joseph RussoRunning Deer Golf Club7577152
Thomas GramignaTavistock Country Club7775152
James DonnellyMerion Golf Club7578153
David ShieldsPhiladelphia Publinks GA8172153
David LiottaWhitemarsh Valley Country Club7776153
Robert HarringtonMerion Golf Club7678154
Chris EsbenshadeBent Creek Country Club7777154
Steven BudenzYardley Country Club7876154
Alexander Maguire, Jr.Brookside Country Club8074154
Jim RattiganSchuylkill Country Club7876154
Matthew GaffneyLittle Mill Country Club7480154
Scott BergsonLittle Mill Country Club7777154
Thomas HylandLittle Mill Country Club7580155
Peter MoranEdgmont Country Club7976155
Brian RothausTalamore Country Club7877155
Thomas DiCintiLinks Golf Club8075155
Mike OwsikMcCall Golf & Country Club8175156
Justin Van HyningOlde York Country Club7383156
Michael TashTavistock Country Club7878156
William McGuinnessTavistock Country Club7977156
Mark KoskoSeaview Marriott Resort & Spa7780157
Scott OrrBrookside Country Club7780157
Marlin DetweilerLancaster Country Club7978157
Byron WhitmanGolden Oaks Golf Club7879157
Jeff DellaFrancoConcord Country Club7978157
P. Chet WalshPhiladelphia Country Club7483157
Charles ScalzottHuntingdon Valley Country Club7978157
Robin McCoolSaucon Valley Country Club7978157
Douglas ZelnerSpring Ford Country Club8176157
Stephen McIntyreHoneybrook Golf Club7681157
David WestWhitford Country Club7780157
Johan van SchalkwykBurlington Country Club8177158
Daniel Pinciotti, Jr.Huntingdon Valley Country Club8078158
Rich PruchnikWest Chester Golf & Country Club7782159
Buddy ReedDuPont Country Club7980159
James KiesermanThe Bucks Club8080160
Ken MattPhiladelphia Publinks GA7882160
John SimonePhilmont Country Club7684160
Lance OberparleiterWedgwood Country Club8080160
Todd VonderheidHuntsville Golf Club8179160
Jack WallaceBurlington Country Club7883161
Mike DannerLu Lu Country Club7388161
David LivermoreGreate Bay Country Club8081161
Michael DomenickPhoenixville Country Club7784161
Ed ChylinskiChester Valley Golf Club7883161
Tom PiersantiSaucon Valley Country Club8083163
Matthew ShevlinPhiladelphia Publinks GA7885163
Scott KleeIndian Valley Country Club7984163
Bill TurnerPhiladelphia Publinks GA8182163
Chris ParmerOlde York Country Club8084164
R. Blake SlaweckiSpring Ford Country Club8183164
John AloisioSeaview Marriott Resort & Spa8183164
Ajai SirohiMercer Oaks Golf Course8183164
John RobinsonCommonwealth National Golf Club7987166
Sean SextonPhiladelphia Publinks GA8187168
Lee GroutWhitemarsh Valley Country Club8188169
Andy AchenbachRiverCrest Golf Club & Preserve76WDWD
 
*-won in playoff
WD-withdrawal

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