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GAP Team Matches: Division AA newcomers make noise in Week One

 Augusta National wasn’t the only setting for “Surprise Sunday” in the golf world.

  Locally, three Division AA newcomers rolled out impressive victories in Week One of the Golf Association of Philadelphia Team Matches. Fox Hill Country Club, Little Mill Country Club and RiverCrest Golf Club & Preserve moved one step closer toward commanding their respective sections. Each will face fellow unbeatens Hartefeld National, Overbrook Golf Club and Tavistock Country Club in Week Two.

  Fox Hill posted perhaps the most resounding Week One upset, knocking off 32-time winner and defending champion Huntingdon Valley Country Club, 28.5-25.5.

  “It was a huge win,” Fox Hill captain Mark Answini said. “Everybody did their job. It was a complete team effort. We did our job at home against a great club like Huntingdon Valley. We did just enough on the road to squeak it out. It was exciting when we found out we won.”

  Fox Hill’s “elder statesmen” spearheaded a 23-point effort. Donald Crossin, 47, and Ed Hennigan, 68, earned three singles points apiece as well as three better-ball points.

  “I kept the experienced guys at home that know Fox Hill and could hopefully put up a big win,” Answini said.

  Answini’s team assignments proved critical to Fox Hill’s success. Jason Miller, playing in the club’s No. 6 slot, anchored the visiting brigade by posting a poignant 1.5 individual points.

  “That was the difference,” Answini said.

  Fox Hill now opposes Hartefeld National, which is coming off a 30.50-23.50 victory over Commonwealth National Golf Club, the 2009 titleholder.

  “Looking at their line-up, it’s going to be tough,” Answini said. “Whoever wins this week has the upper hand. We’ll give it our best. That’s all we can ask for.”

  In Section 2, Little Mill upended Mercer Oaks Golf Course, a 2010 finalist, 35-19. A unified practice beforehand primed the club for victory, according to Ryan McCarty, Little Mill’s captain.

  “Most of the players on our team, probably 10 of the 12, got out and we played probably three times in the last 10 days,” he said. “We had some competitive matches, and I think that made everybody a little bit sharper than they would’ve been. We knew they [Mercer Oaks] were going to be a tough team.”

  A 10-point margin of victory at home complimented Little Mill’s 16.5 road total. James Arsenault, Michael LaGrasso, Lance Oberparleiter, Benjamin Smith and Jeffrey Zalis all earned three points in the their respective matches. Overbrook Golf Club, a six-time GAP Team Matches Champion, is Little Mill’s next obstacle.

  “We’re going up against one of the most seasoned teams,” McCarty said. “We’re going to try and get out there, get some competitive practice in, and try to send the people away who are familiar with that course. Little Mill has more of a home course advantage than most courses would. It’s pretty tight, and if you’re not used to the tree-lines, you can almost feel claustrophobic. I think that benefits us at home.”

  Like Little Mill, RiverCrest also overcame a 2010 finalist, sliding past Glenmaura National Golf Club, 30-24. RiverCrest’s visiting team excelled at the Moosic, Pa. venue, collecting a substantial 16 points overall. Team captain Andy Achenbach and Bobby Kershner swept the individual portion of their respective matches and earned 2.5 better-ball points.

  “The addition of Bobby really helped our team, with me seeing it directly as his partner,” Achenbach said. “We balanced our team well away and everyone played fairly well. I think that it was a great, albeit surprising, win for us. The victory will definitely give us confidence that we can compete at this level, but we know that being competitive with Tavistock and Yardley will be very difficult.”

  The road doesn’t get any easier to navigate for RiverCrest, though. It must make a stop at Tavistock, which dominated the previous decade by winning four Team Match titles.

  “Everyone knows that Tavistock is loaded (with talented players) and we know that we will have to play flawlessly to have a chance,” Achenbach said. “One thing that I know for sure is that the boys from RiverCrest feel up to the challenge and will have a great time competing on such a stage.”

  In Section 4, a pair of GAP Team Match veterans posted Week One wins. Merion Golf Club and Philadelphia Cricket Club will now duel next week for section supremacy.

  “We understand the importance of the match, that’s for sure,” Chris Kallmeyer, Philadelphia Cricket’s captain, said. “We understand that Merion’s a great squad, but we feel like we match up very well. We like our chances.”

  Philadelphia Cricket, in search of its first Team Matches title, defeated Llanerch Country Club, 31.50-22.50. Its road squad matched Llanerch’s 13.5 point total.

  “To walk away from Llanerch with a halve overall was tremendous,” Kallmeyer said. “The traditional theory is to keep it close on the road and take care of business at home. We were very happy with the fact that we were able to do that.”

  Cricket’s home soldiers posted 18 points to successfully hold down the fort. In a match featuring two talented amateurs, Cricket’s Robert Savarese, Jr. triumphed over Llanerch’s Jeff Osberg, the 2010 Patterson Cup and Silver Cross Award winner.

NOTES
Applecross Country Club and Flourtown Country Club made their GAP Team Matches debuts. Applecross’s first team defeated Philadelphia Cricket 4, 39-15, in Division C. Applecross 2 nearly eclipsed RiverCrest 3, enduring a 28-26 defeat in Division D. Flourtown fell to Manufacturers 2, 32-22 … Downingtown 2 amassed the highest Week One total with 50 points … Two contests ended in ties. Aronimink 3 and Five Ponds 3 posted matching 27s, as did Heidelberg 2 and Reading 1 … Different teams, same club, same results: McCall 1 defeated Whitford 2, 27.50-26.50. McCall 2 defeated Old York Road 3 by the same margin.

Section 1
Fox Hill d. Huntingdon Valley, 28.50-25.50
Hartefeld National d. Commonwealth National, 30.50-23.50

Section 2
Little Mill d. Mercer Oaks, 35-19
Overbrook d. Moselem Springs, 41.50-15.50

Section 3
RiverCrest d. Glenmaura National, 30-24
Tavistock d. Yardley, 34.50-19.50

Section 4
Philadelphia Cricket d. Llanerch, 31.50-22.50
Merion d. Laurel Creek, 42-12