Cricket set to defend GAP Team Matches title - The Golf Association of Philadelphia

May 04, 2014

Cricket set to defend GAP Team Matches title

 There are no state secrets when it comes to the 2014 GAP Team Matches Playoff.
  Little Mill Country Club, Overbrook Golf Club and defending champion Philadelphia Cricket Club each advanced to its third straight final with victories on Sunday. Aronimink Golf Club, a longtime GTM power gone quiet in recent years, rounds out the quartet competing for the ultimate GTM bragging rights. The playoff, featuring AA teams, the highest GTM division, takes place Saturday, May 10, and features three players for each participating club at each venue. Each player competes in a three-way match against one foe from another team.
  “Everybody on the team is very excited about returning to the Final,” said Cricket captain Rob Savarese, Jr. “Once you have been there, you want to keep going back.”
  Cricket faced Llanerch Country Club in a winner-moves-on match-up this week. Cricket displayed its depth and strength with a 44.5-9.5 victory. Cricket registered 1.5 points in each match, including the better-ball contests, and three points in four singles competitions.
  “We were anxiously excited. We know we are a good team, but we also know Llanerch is a very good team,” said Savarese, 47, of Lafayette Hill, Pa. “We fully expected a tough close match, especially with the changes Llanerch made a few years ago to put the teeth back in its golf course. I don’t think any of us on Cricket were overly confident. I honestly did not see [the result] coming at all.”
  Cricket ended a 113-year drought last spring with its first GTM title. It coasted into the final this year with a 3-0 record in Section 1 and a Division AA high 119.5 points. Cricket’s point total is the highest in Division AA since the elimination of quarter-points four years ago. Not too surprising considering Team Cricket has fielded a plus-handicap in each slot this year.
  “Repeating is not easy and we know we will face tough competition from Aronimink, Overbrook and Little Mill,” said Savarese. “They are not going to give it to us, so we need to play at a very high level to win.”
  Little Mill captured its only two GTM titles in 2011 and 2012.
  It navigated its way to a fourth straight Playoff appearance by defeating two of its South Jersey brethren, Mercer Oaks Golf Course and Tavistock Country Club, as well as Merion Golf Club. Little Mill finished 3-0 in Section 2 with a 101.5 points.
  “We are very excited about it. We saw who we were playing this year and knew it was going to be tough,” said Little Mill captain Jim Arsenault, 51, of Medford, N.J. “We lost some guys over the years and were able to replace them. I think that says a lot about the club and the course. Now it’s about getting the right guys to the right course for the Final.”
  Overbrook Golf Club turned in a cracker Week 3 performance against Glenmaura National Golf Club to earn a Playoff berth. Overbrook defeated Glenmaura, 37.5-16.5, in a winner moves on Week 3 match.
  “We had expectations, but I would say we all felt we needed to play really, really well,” said Oscar Mestre, Overbrook’s captain, 54, of Berwyn, Pa. “We tied Commonwealth earlier and Glenmaura beat them handily.
  “[Longtime member] Andy Thompson said that [Sunday] may have been the best home Team Matches performance, golf wise, he’s seen. Five out of our six guys shot 75 or better in [windy and hard] conditions. It was great golf on both sides. Mark Endres and I shot 5-under better-ball and won 1-up. Andy and [his brother] Ray [Thompson] shot 4-under better-ball and halved their match. We came out on the winning end, but it was just great competition.”
  Overbrook took Division 3 with a 2.5-.5 record and 95.5 points.
  Aronimink is the outlier of the group in recent times, although history says otherwise. AGC is tied for third all-time in GAP Team Matches victories with seven. It returns to the Final for the first time since 1987.
  Aronimink needed a Week 3 victory over Yardley to advance and got just that with a 30-24 verdict. Aronimink posted a dominant 20.5 points at home to secure its position atop the group. Seven of AGC’s nine home matches registered two or more points.
  “We felt really good about our chances coming into this year. We started the process of lining up our team for this year’s matches during the winter months,” said Aronimink’s captain Jeff Fialko, 50, of Berwyn, Pa. “We were able to field very competitive teams in each of our matches this year by leveraging the play of our young guns like Joe Fabrizio, Dan Bernard and Chris Ford with that of our veterans like Doug Schroer and Charlie Bernard.”
Challenge Matches
  Philadelphia Cricket Club’s Team 2 and Huntingdon Valley Country Club’s Team 2 look to join their colleagues in Division AA for 2015. Both A teams have Challenge Matches to move up into the upper bracket after respective divisional victories. If either, or both, accomplishes the feat, it would mark the first time a club would have two teams in Division AA.
  One caveat is Huntingdon Valley 1 will be in a Challenge Match against Philmont Country Club 1. If HVCC1 loses, it would drop down to Division A.
  Cricket faces Mercer Oaks Golf Course 1 and Huntingdon Valley takes on Commonwealth National Golf Club 1.

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