LAFAYETTE HILL, Pa. — A push from players in the final pairing — and a bit of interference from Mother Nature — enhanced the nail-biting drama in the Golf Association of Philadelphia’s Team Championship Qualifier at The ACE Club (par 72, 7,141 yards).
Prior to the closing curtain, though, two squads — Commonwealth National Golf Club (293) and Philadelphia Cricket Club (297) — already secured spots in the Championship proper. Mercer Oaks Golf Course also appeared locked in, however, Michael R. Brown’s score was disqualified after he failed to notify the committee that he played two balls on one hole (Rule 3-3 Doubt as to Procedure) before returning his scorecard.
That verdict left three teams sparring for the last two available spots.
Benjamin Cooley and Jeff Osberg, playing in the event’s final group off the first tee, held Huntingdon Valley Country Club’s fate in-hand. However, severe weather forced competitors off the course at 5:10 p.m. Tuesday. Play resumed at 7:30 a.m. Wednesday.
The two needed to collectively play their final three holes in 1 under to give Huntingdon Valley an edge over Overbrook Golf Club (300) and Philmont Country Club (300). Cooley and Osberg finished that stretch in 1 over.
“We got ourselves in a good position to finish off the round,” Osberg, 29, of West Chester, Pa., said. “I think the rain delay definitely hurt us, but we knew we had to play the holes collectively in 1 under, and unfortunately, we just couldn’t do it.”
“It wasn’t an overly daunting task,” Cooley, 20, of Rydal, Pa., added. “Going into yesterday, we kind of knew where we stood and figured if we both played OK, we’d be fine. Jeff played well and I struggled. We were balancing out for awhile.”
Before Cooley and Osberg teed off yesterday, Huntingdon Valley held a clubhouse score of 317. Osberg brought his team back into the qualifying conversation by turning in 5 under. He carded three birdies and an eagle. Osberg dropped a wedge 80 yards to 15 feet on No. 1 (par 4, 365 yards) and 40 yards to eight feet on No. 5 (par 4, 385 yards). He stopped an 8-iron at 25 feet for a 2 on No. 6 (par 3, 186 yards), and on the par 5, 525-yard No. 9, clobbered a 7-iron 192 yards to 20 feet for a 3.
Osberg cancelled a bogey on the next par 5 (No. 16, 572 yards) with a birdie on the 17th hole (par 4, 391 yards); he nearly jarred a hard wedge from 135 yards for eagle. Cooley, though, missed the green right with a 9-iron from 138 yards and failed to get up-and-down. Consequently, both players needed birdies on the par 5, 568-yard 18th hole. Knowing the circumstances, Osberg attempted to reach the green in two with a 3-wood from 257 yards, but found the water hazard instead. Cooley sent a wedge 105 yards to 30 feet and buried his birdie putt, but it wasn’t enough.
“I figured we would probably need an eagle so I tried to hit a high cut, something that would hold the front of the green, knowing where that hole location was. I just hit it high right and lost it completely,” Osberg said.
Huntingdon Valley finished at 301.
Commonwealth National’s Matthew Teesdale earned individual medalist honors in the event, carding a 5-under-par 67 to lead his team into the Championship proper, set for June 23 at Trump National Golf Club — Philadelphia. His performance is a case of déjà vu; Teesdale posted the same score in the same event at the same venue in 2012.
“Two years ago, I got off to a hot start. I dunked a 6-iron for eagle on the first hole (No. 10),” Teesdale, 23, said. “Today I three-putted from 15 feet [for bogey on No. 10] and bounced back with a nice 30-footer on No. 11 for birdie.”
On the aforementioned 423-yard 11th hole, Teesdale smashed a 6-iron 207 yards and converted a right-to-left breaker. Overall, he played the par 5s at The ACE Club in 4 under. Teesdale hit a 4-iron 235 yards to 12 feet on No. 16 (572 yards) and lagged the eagle attempt into tap-in territory. He narrowly missed a five-footer for 3 on No. 18 (568 yards) after smashing a 5-iron 215 yards. On the 575-yard No. 3, Teesdale launched a 3-wood 277 yards onto the right fringe and two-putted. He also reached the 525-yard No. 9 in two strokes and then nestled a chip off a mound behind the hole location to four feet. “What was best about the round is I played the par 5s well,” Teesdale said. “I got the ball in play off the tee and tried irons into the majority of them. I was feeling comfortable with the driver today.”
Teesdale also carded birdies on Nos. 1 (par 4, 365 yards) and 5 (par 4, 385 yards). He executed a bump-and-run from 50 yards to two feet on the first, and drove the green and two-putted on the latter. Teesdale’s worst swing of the day — a hook 6-iron on the par 3, 169-yard No. 3 — resulted in a bogey.
Teesdale, the 2013 Patterson Cup runner-up, is a senior at Temple University. His game is turning a corner, despite a tough spring season.
“I’m feeling good now and getting a little more confidence with the putter, which is nice,” Teesdale said.
Commonwealth National will make its fourth straight and sixth overall Team Championship appearance. Its only title came in 2009 at LedgeRock Golf Club. Philadelphia Cricket returns to defend its title. Overbrook holds a record 17 Team Championship titles. This will be Philmont’s first appearance in the final since 1979. It is only Philmont’s second ever final appearance.
The Team Championship Qualifier determines what four member clubs will compete in the Team Championship. Participants must field at least six players to be eligible. The low four scores of each team make up the qualifying total. In the event of a tie, the fifth player’s score is used.
The Championship proper features eight-man teams playing an alternate shot format in the morning, with singles matches in the afternoon.
Golf Association of Philadelphia
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 150 Member Clubs and 57,000 individual members are spread across parts of Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware and Maryland. As Philadelphia’s Most Trusted Source of Golf Information, the Golf Association of Philadelphia’s mission is to promote, preserve and protect the game of golf.
Commonwealth National GC
Philadelphia Cricket Club
G. Patrick Dougherty
James Kania, Jr.
Chris Lange, Jr.
Robert Galbreath, Jr.
Failed to qualify
Huntingdon Valley CC
Daniel Pinciotti, Jr.
Mercer Oaks GC
Michael R. Brown
Thomas E. Timby, Jr.
John Murphy, II
Steve Ransom, Jr.
Kevin Conners, Jr.
Tavistock Country Club
Old York Road CC
Edward Kelly, Jr.
Little Mill CC
Whitemarsh Valley CC
P. Chet Walsh
Blue Bell CC
Broad Run Golfer’s Club
*-score used in total