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MALVERN, Pa.–John Brennan is a high school social studies teacher by trade. Thursday, the member of Philadelphia Cricket Club, penned the 29th chapter in Golf Association of Philadelphia Middle-Amateur Championship history.
Brennan entered the second and final round of the year’s first Major ahead by two shots. He methodically coped with a treacherous golf course and difficult scoring conditions at Chester Valley Golf Club (par 70, 6,547 yards) – the scoring average today was a robust 79.648 – to maintain that distance throughout over rival Ben Smith of Little Mill Country Club. Smith started the day in second place.
Brennan posted a second-round 4-over 74 while Smith, one of his two playing partners, carded a 76. The McDermott brothers, Michael of Merion Golf Club and Brian of Llanerch Country Club, finished tied for third at 7 over. Michael McDermott carded the day’s low score, a 2-over 72. Brian posted a 73.
“It’s overwhelming. It’s really tough to put into words,” said Brennan on winning his first Golf Association of Philadelphia Major Championship. “To put my name on a GAP trophy really means a lot. Words can’t describe it. The quality of play [in the Golf Association of Philadelphia] is so good. I was fortunate to get on a little streak yesterday and I was able to follow it up today. I made some nice chips and putts coming down the stretch.”
Brennan, 33, of Audubon, Pa., is the first Philadelphia Cricket Club member to win the Mid.-Am. since Rob Savarese, Jr. in 2003.
Scoring fell victim to steady winds and hard greens throughout the day before Brennan secured the victory with a clutch flat stick. It helped that Brennan caddied at Chester Valley from 1998-2001 while at Lebanon Valley College.
“I felt comfortable out there,” said Brennan.
Nursing that same two-stroke advantage he held at the start on No. 12 (par 4, 422 yards), albeit with some prior round twists and turns, Brennan drained a surprising 25-foot par save after hitting his drive into the right trees and being forced to chip out 75 yards short of the green on his second shot. Smith’s tee ball, on the other hand, was no better. It found the left hazard, and after a sideways chip out, he watched his third shot, a 6-iron from 165 yards out, stop short and left of the green. Smith needed three more strokes to finish.
When it was over, Brennan stayed at even for the tournament. Smith jumped to 4 over.
“I didn’t make a putt all day,” said Brennan. “I hit it two cups out to the left. I figured if I made it, Ben might press to make his.”
Added Smith, 25, of Voorhees, N.J. “That hurt. You always expect your opponent to make the putt. When his went in, though, I said in my mind that’s it.”
Smith wasn’t done, however. He gained a stroke back on each of the next two holes.
He made par on No. 13 (par 4, 449 yards) and a two-putt birdie on No. 14 (par 5, 466 yards) in comparison to a Brennan bogey and par.
Both players missed the green on the 15th (par 3, 153 yards), Brennan to the right and Smith long. Brennan’s ensuing chip skidded to a stop some 15 feet left. Smith lofted a lob wedge to eight feet and it appeared he may be a stroke closer, one back, with three holes to play when the two completed the hole. Brennan, however, wanted none of that and once again found the jar for a clutch par save. Smith made his, too, although he left the green somewhat shocked.
“When I crossed the road to get to 15, I said this is it right here,” said Brennan. “You have to hit some good shots down the stretch. The putt was huge because I had a feeling Ben was going to make that putt for par. That kept me going down the stretch.”
“I hit an 8-iron very solid. It was all over the stick. I was thinking I was going to be like Tommy Hyland and make a hole-in-one there today,” said Smith. “He made his and I made mine. That kept me in it.”
Brennan ended Smith’s hopes and dreams on the next hole (No. 16, par 4, 439 yards). He rocketed a drive down the left side and hit a gap wedge from 118 yards to six inches for birdie. Smith found trouble off both the tee and around the green. He would finish with a double bogey six.
“I just wanted to get it in going to the house after that,” said Brennan.
Brennan’s been a regular Mid.-Am. contender, finishing in the Top 9 in four of the prior six events.
For Smith, this was his highest Golf Association of Philadelphia placing. He did finish second in last year’s New Jersey State Amateur at Trump National Golf Club – Bedminster.
Brennan’s victory also earned him an exemption into July’s Open Championship at famed Pine Valley Golf Club.
“To punch my ticket to get in Pine Valley is unbelievable,” said Brennan.
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 145 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.
NOTES– The aforementioned Tom Hyland of Little Mill CC recorded his 11th hole-in-one with a 7-iron on No. 15 (par 3, 153 yards) … the cut-line for the Mid.-Am. fell at 80 yesterday. A total of 71 players advanced to today’s final round.
|John Brennan, Philadelphia Cricket Club||67-74–141|
|Benjamin Smith, Little Mill Country Club||69-76–145|
|Michael McDermott, Merion Golf Club||75-72–147|
|Brian McDermott, Llanerch Country Club||74-73–147|
|Chip Lutz, LedgeRock Golf Club||72-76–148|
|Michael Brown, Philadelphia Publinks GA||71-77–148|
|Eric Williams, Makefield Highlands Golf Club||75-74–149|
|Tim Freeh, Back Creek Golf Club||73-76–149|
|Anthony Apostolico, Back Creek Golf Club||75-74–149|
|Michael Domenick, Phoenixville Country Club||78-73–151|
|Scott McNeil, Philadelphia Publinks GA||75-76–151|
|Rich Pruchnik, Back Creek Golf Club||72-79–151|
|Daniel Feeney, Philadelphia Cricket Club||73-79–152|
|Peter Barron, III, Stone Harbor Golf Club||79-73–152|
|David Shields, Philadelphia Publinks GA||76-76–152|
|Todd Vonderheid, Huntsville Golf Club||75-77–152|
|Marc Mandel, Philadelphia Cricket Club||78-75–153|
|Brian Gillespie, St. Davids Golf Club||79-74–153|
|Michael Quinn, Edgmont Country Club||74-79–153|
|Scott McLaughlin, Commonwealth National Golf Club||77-76–153|
|Joe Viechnicki, Saucon Valley Country Club||76-77–153|
|Ronald Jamarowicz, Hartefeld National||76-77–153|
|James Gillespie, Wedgwood Country Club||76-77–153|
|Rodney James, Golden Oaks Golf Club||77-76–153|
|Jack Anderson, Makefield Highlands Golf Club||75-78–153|
|Ryan Gelrod, Philadelphia Cricket Club||79-75–154|
|Matthew Mattare, Saucon Valley Country Club||77-77–154|
|Richard Umani, Honeybrook Golf Club||78-76–154|
|Doug Fedoryshyn, Concord Country Club||79-75–154|
|Robert Bechtold, Loch Nairn Golf Club||76-78–154|
|William Jeremiah, Bidermann Golf Club||75-79–154|
|Mark Peterson, Philadelphia Cricket Club||79-76–155|
|Steve Lubin, Five Ponds Golf Club||75-80–155|
|Joshua Isler, Chester Valley Golf Club||74-81–155|
|Jack Wallace, Philadelphia Cricket Club||79-76–155|
|Chris Lange, Jr., Overbrook Golf Club||79-76–155|
|James Donnelly, Merion Golf Club||78-77–155|
|Christopher Lange, Overbrook Golf Club||77-78–155|
|Michael Moffat, Commonwealth National Golf Club||77-78–155|
|Francis McFadden, Overbrook Golf Club||80-75–155|
|Paul Kupcha, Fieldstone Golf Club||76-80–156|
|Robert Cunningham, Overbrook Golf Club||79-77–156|
|Lance Oberparleiter, Little Mill Country Club||78-79–157|
|Matthew Finger, Woodcrest Country Club||77-80–157|
|Oscar Mestre, Overbrook Golf Club||79-78–157|
|Mark Coassolo, Brookside C.C. of Allentown||76-81–157|
|Gary Daniels, Applebrook Golf Club||74-84–158|
|Michael Walker, Loch Nairn Golf Club||78-80–158|
|William Naylor, Applebrook Golf Club||79-79–158|
|Thomas Hyland, Little Mill Country Club||76-83–159|
|Kevin Cahill, Merion Golf Club||80-79–159|
|G. Patrick Dougherty, Philadelphia Cricket Club||74-85–159|
|David Brookreson, Huntingdon Valley Country Club||80-79–159|
|Louis Giovi, Mercer Oaks Golf Course||77-83–160|
|Bill Boyle, Metedeconk National Golf Club||73-87–160|
|Frank Corrado, Jr., Jericho National Golf Club||78-82–160|
|Neil Gordon, Five Ponds Golf Club||79-81–160|
|Adam Mastone, Trump National Golf Club – Philadelphia||80-80–160|
|Richard Atcavage, Whitemarsh Valley Country Club||79-82–161|
|Bryan Ott, Silver Creek Country Club||80-81–161|
|Rich Thon, The Springhaven Club||77-86–163|
|Dave Fardon, Philadelphia Publinks GA||80-83–163|
|Chris Hunger, Wedgwood Country Club||80-83–163|
|Santo Lafoca, Huntsville Golf Club||80-84–164|
|Joseph Roeder, Links Golf Club||80-84–164|
|Michael Beran, RiverCrest Golf Club & Preserve||80-85–165|
|Michael Rose, Talamore Country Club||80-87–167|
|Matt Maurer, Bent Creek Country Club||78-92–170|
|George Griffaton, Brookside Country Club||80-90–170|
|Thomas Brennan, Five Ponds Golf Club||79-92–171|
|Mark Walker, Laurel Creek Country Club||75-WD–WD|
|Failed to qualify|
|Robert Loftus, Overbrook Golf Club||81|
|Elias Chua, Fieldstone Golf Club||81|
|Simon Hagger, Fieldstone Golf Club||81|
|Chris Hynoski, Mercer Oaks Golf Course||81|
|Matthew Walsh, Overbrook Golf Club||81|
|Andy Achenbach, RiverCrest Golf Club & Preserve||81|
|Peter Moran, Edgmont Country Club||81|
|Ryan Jordan, Tavistock Country Club||81|
|Jeffrey Huntzinger, Philadelphia Publinks GA||81|
|Tom Grady, West Chester Golf & Country Club||81|
|Jamie Slonis, Tavistock Country Club||82|
|Sean Ryan, Huntingdon Valley Country Club||82|
|David West, Whitford Country Club||82|
|Ray Pyontek, Yardley Country Club||82|
|Kenneth Matt, Mercer Oaks Golf Course||83|
|Grant Skyllas, Moselem Springs Golf Club||83|
|John Simone, Philmont Country Club||83|
|Daniel Pinciotti, Jr., Huntingdon Valley Country Club||83|
|Scott Orr, Brookside Country Club||83|
|Paul Bickford, Little Mill Country Club||83|
|Tom Spano, Llanerch Country Club||83|
|Bill Albertus, Penn Oaks Golf Club||83|
|Michael Santerian, Wedgwood Country Club||83|
|Robert Good, Merion Golf Club||83|
|Sean Coyle, Llanerch Country Club||83|
|Patrick McCauley, Applebrook Golf Club||83|
|Stephen Seiden, Llanerch Country Club||84|
|Ed Chylinski, Chester Valley Golf Club||84|
|Brian Fisher, Philadelphia Publinks GA||84|
|Arthur Herling, III, Cedarbrook Country Club||84|
|Christopher Lucci, Brookside Country Club||84|
|Jason Barkley, Moselem Springs Golf Club||84|
|Tim Anderson, Philadelphia Publinks GA||85|
|Andrew Dietz, Laurel Creek Country Club||85|
|Patrick Phillips, Spring Ford Country Club||85|
|Tom Piersanti, Saucon Valley Country Club||85|
|Carlo Fitti, Llanerch Country Club||85|
|Ivan McBride, Five Ponds Golf Club||85|
|Mark Kosko, Sea Oaks Golf Club||85|
|John Gosselin, Kennett Square Golf & Country Club||85|
|Andrew Carnevale, North Hills Country Club||85|
|Gregg Angelillo, Moselem Springs Golf Club||86|
|Drew Panebianco, Five Ponds Golf Club||86|
|Glenn Smeraglio, Mercer Oaks Golf Course||86|
|Steven Budenz, Makefield Highlands Golf Club||86|
|Gordon Jamieson, Merion Golf Club||86|
|Blake Cleary, Wilmington Country Club||86|
|Michael Fagan, Whitemarsh Valley Country Club||86|
|Peter Landreth, Jr., Philadelphia Cricket Club||87|
|Jim Braunsberg, Blue Bell Country Club||87|
|Michael Casella, Northampton Country Club||88|
|Jonathan Shevlin, North Hills Country Club||89|
|Timothy Whartenby, Northampton Valley Country Club||89|
|Patrick McCusker, Jr., Plymouth Country Club||89|
|Mark Hodgson, Burlington Country Club||91|
|Thomas Gramigna, Tavistock Country Club||WD|
|Ryan McCarty, Little Mill Country Club||WD|
|John Aloisio, Running Deer Golf Club||WD|
|Alexander Maguire, Jr., Brookside Country Club||WD|
|Christopher Terebesi, Honeybrook Golf Club||WD|