HAVERTOWN, Pa.–A steady Cole Berman survived the battle of best friends, defeating Michael Davis, 6&4, in the 115th BMW Philadelphia Amateur Championship 36-hole title match on Saturday at Llanerch Country Club. Berman, who was solid tee to green and exceptional with his mid-to-long range putting, is the first Philadelphia Cricket Club member to hoist the J. Wood Platt Amateur Trophy in 52 years. Davis and his sharp short-game were let down by a balky driver, which he hit out-of-bounds five times, in defeat.
“I’m at a loss of words to be on that trophy with all of those other champions and a part of Golf Association of Philadelphia history,” said an emotional Berman, 19, of Rosemont, Pa. “It’s just an honor, a dream come true really.”
Said Davis, “It was cool to make the Championship Match. I just didn’t give Cole my best stuff this morning. I played him pretty close this afternoon. I just dug myself too big of a hole to climb out of.”
Berman hit 17 of 25 fairways and 22 of 32 greens in the match. Davis countered with 11 of 25 fairways and 13 of 32 greens.
Berman, a rising 19-year-old sophomore at Georgetown University, gradually built a 6-up lead in the first round. It was an advantage punctuated with victories on the final two holes. Berman won No. 17 (par 3, 127 yards) when he rolled in a clutch 12-foot birdie putt, and after keeping the pressure up on No. 18 (par 4, 297 yards) by finding the fairway, watched Davis send two balls right, into the driving range and out-of-bounds.
Berman finished the final nine of the morning with just 10 putts.
Round 2 was more give-and-take. Davis won No. 20 (No. 2, par 4, 434 yards) with an insane par from the left trees. Again the driver let him down, but this time he punched forward a few yards and ripped a 7-iron from 174 yards to two feet. It appeared to be the much needed momentum builder. Berman, though, responded immediately, on No. 21 (No. 3, par 4, 457 yards) with a 35-foot birdie bomb that caught the right edge and dropped. Both players missed the green right on No. 22 (No. 4, par 3, 196 yards), and Berman knocked his chip to inches to move 7-up.
“It was more relaxed today playing against Michael and having a lot of people out there that I’m close with,” said Berman, whose father Peter caddied for him again. “It was a different kind of focus because we had a great time and cheered each other on. At the same time, we both wanted to win. For us to be where we are today and to have played each other, it’s unbelievable.”
Davis, a rising sophomore at Princeton University, parred No. 24 (No. 6, par 4, 425 yards) and was conceded birdie on No. 25 (No. 7, par 4, 391 yards) after dropping a 58-degree wedge from 103 yards to two feet. The two halved the last two holes of the front nine. Berman led 5-up with nine holes to go.
Seemingly, with a bit momentum, Davis still held the tee, but watched his title hopes take a fatal blow when he rocketed his drive and provisional ball into the range. Davis regained a bit of traction with victories on No. 29 (No. 11, par 4, 429 yards) and No. 30 (No. 12, par 3, 178 yards) – a hole he chipped in on from 35 feet after just going over the back edge.
“I just had some problems, it was going all over the place, a couple left, a couple right. I just couldn’t really figure it out,” said Davis, 19, of Newtown Square, Pa. about his driver. “It was probably tempo, usually my tempo gets quick, it gets a little out of control.”
Berman headed to his comfort hole, No. 13 (par 4, 368 yards). A place he won five times in his six match play rounds. Berman found the fairway, and then hit a wedge to three feet to take the hole. On the No. 32 (No. 14, par 4, 449 yards), it was the putter that did the trick one final time. He rocketed his trusty 4-hybrid to 25 feet left of the hole, and with a gallery of 60 people looking on, drained the championship putt.
“I owe it all to the Cricket Club,” said Berman. “For all the guys to come out and watch me, it was really special. I don’t think I’d be where I am today without the club and all the people there who have supported me along the way. I’m glad I could represent the club well and bring home the trophy.”
NOTES–The last member of Cricket to win the Amateur was John Hendrickson in 1963 … Berman is the first player to possess both the Patterson Cup and Amateur trophies at the same time since Michael McDermott of Merion Golf Club. Berman won the Patterson Cup last year at Tavistock Country Club. McDermott won the 2007 Patterson Cup followed by the 2008 Amateur. In fact, McDermott also held the 2008 Middle-Amateur title at the time … Davis would have been the fourth Aronimink member to triumph in the Association’s oldest event. R. Jay Sigel, in 1987, was the last … the youngest Amateur Champion ever was Lincoln Roden, III of Huntingdon Valley Country Club, in 1949 at age 18. He was just days younger than Billy Stewart of Llanerch Country Club, who also won the championship at age 18, at Riverton Country Club in 2002 … Merion Golf Club’s East Course will host the 2016 BMW Philadelphia Amateur Championship. Philadelphia Country Club will be used as part of qualifying.
2. Cole Berman, Philadelphia Cricket Club, d. 8. Michael Davis, Aronimink Golf Club, 6&4.
BMW Philadelphia Amateur
The BMW Philadelphia Amateur Championship is the Golf Association of Philadelphia’s premier event. Participants must first advance through a one day, 36-hole stroke play qualifier to gain one of 32 available match play positions. Those who qualify for match play must advance through four matches in two days to reach the Amateur Final, which is typically held on the Saturday of Father’s Day weekend. The winner receives the J. Wood Platt Trophy; its namesake holds a record-seven Amateur Championship titles.
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 151 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.
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