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#GAPMidAm: Final Round

Late birdie helps Publinks’ McNeil take title

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BUCKINGHAM, Pa.– Scott McNeil opened his Middle-Amateur Championship with a snapped drive into the pond on No. 1. He ended it 36 holes later with a dramatic birdie and a second Mid.-Am. victory to his credit. In between, the energetic and eccentric McNeil hit enough quality shots and timely putts to eventually outlast a talented field by a stroke in the season’s first Major. McNeil finished 5-under par (70-69) for the two days at Lookaway Golf Club (par 72, 6,888 yards), a shot clear of runner-ups Matt Mattare (71-69) of Saucon Valley Country Club and Sean McMonagle (70-70) of Tavistock Country Club.

“It’s all about winning No. 2. I feel like anybody can win one. You can always get hot for one or two days. To get that second one means you are there and that you have the game to compete day in and day out. I’m ecstatic,” said McNeil, 35, of Philadelphia, Pa., who won his first title in 2015. “The life of a Mid.-Am. is not always the same year in and year out.

“I switched jobs. I’ve been able to take a lunch break and hit some balls and get a golf club in my hand a couple times a week, not for very long, but enough that I’ve learned for myself what it takes to be able to compete with not my A game. [I’ve been able to] get enough [time with a club] in my hands that if everything fell right I wouldn’t crumble under the pressure.”

McNeil recently took a position as a Product Manager for Delaware County, Pa.

McNeil, who plays out of the Philadelphia Publinks Golf Association, shined when the spotlight illuminated. On No. 18 (par 4, 434 yard), he knocked a 6-iron from 181 yards to nine feet for the clinching putt. A few swings sooner, on the par 5, No. 17 (520 yards), he almost holed an eagle chip from 25 feet before converting a short birdie roll.

“Honestly, I thought I left [the putt on 18] a little bit short,” said McNeil. “I thought ‘Good Lord, I left it short in front of all these people for the win.’ To the courses credit, the greens are so pure that it kept tumbling and went right in the middle.”

McNeil’s late flurry capped a hectic finish. Mattare, who entered the final hole at 5 under, bogeyed No. 18 after his 7-iron from 165 yards took a hard bounce on the green and stopped 30 yards long. From that position, his tournament chances vanished.

McMonagle and Patrick Knott of Merion Golf Club, playing in the same group and the final group on the course, came to the last hole both at 4 under after birdies on No. 17. Both found the green on No. 18, and both faced birdie tries of more than 25 feet. Neither threatened.

First-round leader Peter Barron, III of Galloway National Golf Club carded a closing-round 78 and placed ninth at 2 over.

Five days ago, McNeil withdrew from a BMW Philadelphia Amateur Championship Qualifying at Running Deer Golf Club due to frustration with his game. He noted that in every round he competed in, up to the Mid.-Am., he would lose a ball or two. Lost balls equal high scores.

So when he found the pond on No. 1, McNeil took matters into his own hands.

“The first swing of the tournament, I snap hook [the ball] into the pond. I was so angry because I haven’t able to complete a round a golf without losing a golf ball. I took my shoes and socks off and went four feet into the pond and got that ball and played the rest of the round with it,” said McNeil. “I took my penalty but I was bound and determined to keep that ball in play of the 36 holes. I felt like I righted the ship.”

And navigated it to a career achievement.

McNeil is now only the fifth player to have won more than one Mid.-Am. title. David Brookreson (1986, 1988), Chris Lange (2005-06), Chip Lutz (1998, 2007) and Michael McDermott (2001, 2004, 2008, 2013).

The inaugural Middle-Amateur Championship was held in 1984, three years after the United States Golf Association (USGA) created the U.S. Mid-Am as a formal championship for post-college amateurs. The Association followed suit with the USGA in creating a Mid.-Am., but initially differed in its administration of the tournament in a couple of respects.

The most obvious difference was the age requirement. Prior to 2001, the GAP Middle-Amateur was for players 30 years of age or older.

The Association’s Executive Committee reviewed and revised that age requirement in 2001 to match the USGA’s guidelines of 25 years of age or older for eligible players. Also, at that point, the Committee changed the format of the event to a two-day stroke play tournament (instead of a one-day medal play event) with a cut to the low 70 players and ties after the first round. Players must have a GAP/USGA Handicap Index of 7.0 or lower to be eligible to compete.

GAP

Celebrating Amateur Golf since 1897, GAP, also known as the Golf Association of Philadelphia, is the oldest regional or state golf association in the United States. It serves as the principal ruling body of amateur golf in its region. The Association’s 300 Member Clubs and 80,000 individual members are spread across the Eastern half of Pennsylvania and parts of Delaware, Maryland and New Jersey. The GAP’s mission is to promote, preserve and protect the game of golf.

Name, clubR1-R2–Total
Scott McNeil Philadelphia Publinks Golf Association70-69–139
Matthew Mattare, Saucon Valley Country Club71-69–140
Sean McMonagle, Tavistock Country Club70-70–140
Patrick Knott, Merion Golf Club70-71–141
Benjamin Feld, Green Valley Country Club70-72–142
John Brennan, Philadelphia Cricket Club70-73–143
Brett Diakon, Commonwealth National Golf Club73-71–144
Michael R. Brown, Jr., LuLu Country Club73-72–145
Peter Barron, III, Galloway National Golf Club68-78–146
Ben Keyser, Woodcrest Country Club72-75–147
Brian Gillespie, St. Davids Golf Club76-72–148
Andrew Mason, Huntingdon Valley Country Club72-76–148
Oscar Mestre, Overbrook Golf Club72-76–148
David Mecca, Wemberly Hills Golf Club76-73–149
Brandon Dalinka, The Ridge at Back Brook76-73–149
Jim Sullivan, LuLu Country Club76-73–149
Tony Peressini, Lookaway Golf Club76-73–149
John Lalley, Llanerch Country Club76-73–149
Christopher Ault, Yardley Country Club75-74–149
John Barone, Glenmaura National Golf Club74-75–149
Gregor Orlando, Philadelphia Cricket Club72-77–149
Scott Ehrlich, Waynesborough Country Club71-78–149
Christopher Clauson, LuLu Country Club75-75–150
Cory Siegfried, Aronimink Golf Club74-76–150
Scott Forrester, LuLu Country Club72-78–150
Eric Williams, Honesdale Golf Club78-73–151
John Samaha, Old York Road Country Club75-76–151
Ben Cooley, Huntingdon Valley Country Club74-77–151
Stewart Rickenbach, Manufacturers’ Golf & Country Club72-79–151
John Perrine, Medford Village Country Club75-77–152
Nicholas Vecellio, Moselem Springs Golf Club74-78–152
Matt Teesdale, The 1912 Club74-78–152
Dan Bernard, Aronimink Golf Club73-79–152
Christopher Pitts, Tavistock Country Club73-79–152
Billy Howard, Applebrook Golf Club73-79–152
Daniel Charen, LuLu Country Club71-81–152
Scott Storck, Philadelphia Cricket Club77-76–153
Jimmy Finnerty, Radley Run Country Club76-77–153
Sam Pancoast, Radley Run Country Club76-77–153
Jonathan Radick, Spring Mill Country Club75-78–153
Lee Nonnemacher, Steel Club77-77–154
Chris Binder, Riverwinds Golf Club75-79–154
Ryan McCarty, Huntingdon Valley Country Club75-79–154
Glenn Smeraglio, LuLu Country Club74-80–154
Mark Czerniakowski, LuLu Country Club73-81–154
Andy Beittel, Manufacturers’ Golf & Country Club70-84–154
Robert Bechtold, Fieldstone Golf Club78-77–155
Cory Reighard, Brookside Country Club77-78–155
Lodie van Tonder, Sakima Country Club77-78–155
Addison West, Merion Golf Club78-78–156
Michael Rogers, Overbrook Golf Club78-78–156
Sean Seese, Huntingdon Valley Country Club75-81–156
Kyle Ginty, Talamore Country Club75-81–156
Jamie Slonis, Tavistock Country Club70-86–156
Patrick Dougherty, Philadelphia Cricket Club78-79–157
Sam Sherrill, Downingtown Country Club78-79–157
Andy Butler, Huntingdon Valley Country Club78-79–157
Andrew Carnevale, North Hills Country Club78-79–157
Tom Grady, Radley Run Country Club77-80–157
Matthew Toto, Woodcrest Country Club77-80–157
Michael Carr, Philadelphia Cricket Club76-81–157
Ronan Culligan, Saucon Valley Country Club74-83–157
Ryan Gelrod, Philadelphia Cricket Club78-80–158
Jordan Cooper, Woodcrest Country Club78-80–158
Sean Ryan, Huntingdon Valley Country Club77-81–158
Drew Garis, North Hills Country Club77-81–158
Connor McNicholas, The 1912 Club73-85–158
Luke Smith, Northampton Country Club77-82–159
Gwinyai Murahwa, North Hills Country Club75-84–159
Paul Rogowicz, Yardley Country Club78-82–160
Anthony Saltarelli, Philmont Country Club77-83–160
Domenick Trentalange, LuLu Country Club75-85–160
Chris Orlando, Paxon Hollow Country Club78-83–161
Jeff Long, Riverton Country Club77-84–161
Jason Wilson, Olde Homestead Golf Club74-WD–WD