Late birdie helps Publinks’ McNeil take title
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.
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.
|Scott McNeil Philadelphia Publinks Golf Association||70-69–139|
|Matthew Mattare, Saucon Valley Country Club||71-69–140|
|Sean McMonagle, Tavistock Country Club||70-70–140|
|Patrick Knott, Merion Golf Club||70-71–141|
|Benjamin Feld, Green Valley Country Club||70-72–142|
|John Brennan, Philadelphia Cricket Club||70-73–143|
|Brett Diakon, Commonwealth National Golf Club||73-71–144|
|Michael R. Brown, Jr., LuLu Country Club||73-72–145|
|Peter Barron, III, Galloway National Golf Club||68-78–146|
|Ben Keyser, Woodcrest Country Club||72-75–147|
|Brian Gillespie, St. Davids Golf Club||76-72–148|
|Andrew Mason, Huntingdon Valley Country Club||72-76–148|
|Oscar Mestre, Overbrook Golf Club||72-76–148|
|David Mecca, Wemberly Hills Golf Club||76-73–149|
|Brandon Dalinka, The Ridge at Back Brook||76-73–149|
|Jim Sullivan, LuLu Country Club||76-73–149|
|Tony Peressini, Lookaway Golf Club||76-73–149|
|John Lalley, Llanerch Country Club||76-73–149|
|Christopher Ault, Yardley Country Club||75-74–149|
|John Barone, Glenmaura National Golf Club||74-75–149|
|Gregor Orlando, Philadelphia Cricket Club||72-77–149|
|Scott Ehrlich, Waynesborough Country Club||71-78–149|
|Christopher Clauson, LuLu Country Club||75-75–150|
|Cory Siegfried, Aronimink Golf Club||74-76–150|
|Scott Forrester, LuLu Country Club||72-78–150|
|Eric Williams, Honesdale Golf Club||78-73–151|
|John Samaha, Old York Road Country Club||75-76–151|
|Ben Cooley, Huntingdon Valley Country Club||74-77–151|
|Stewart Rickenbach, Manufacturers’ Golf & Country Club||72-79–151|
|John Perrine, Medford Village Country Club||75-77–152|
|Nicholas Vecellio, Moselem Springs Golf Club||74-78–152|
|Matt Teesdale, The 1912 Club||74-78–152|
|Dan Bernard, Aronimink Golf Club||73-79–152|
|Christopher Pitts, Tavistock Country Club||73-79–152|
|Billy Howard, Applebrook Golf Club||73-79–152|
|Daniel Charen, LuLu Country Club||71-81–152|
|Scott Storck, Philadelphia Cricket Club||77-76–153|
|Jimmy Finnerty, Radley Run Country Club||76-77–153|
|Sam Pancoast, Radley Run Country Club||76-77–153|
|Jonathan Radick, Spring Mill Country Club||75-78–153|
|Lee Nonnemacher, Steel Club||77-77–154|
|Chris Binder, Riverwinds Golf Club||75-79–154|
|Ryan McCarty, Huntingdon Valley Country Club||75-79–154|
|Glenn Smeraglio, LuLu Country Club||74-80–154|
|Mark Czerniakowski, LuLu Country Club||73-81–154|
|Andy Beittel, Manufacturers’ Golf & Country Club||70-84–154|
|Robert Bechtold, Fieldstone Golf Club||78-77–155|
|Cory Reighard, Brookside Country Club||77-78–155|
|Lodie van Tonder, Sakima Country Club||77-78–155|
|Addison West, Merion Golf Club||78-78–156|
|Michael Rogers, Overbrook Golf Club||78-78–156|
|Sean Seese, Huntingdon Valley Country Club||75-81–156|
|Kyle Ginty, Talamore Country Club||75-81–156|
|Jamie Slonis, Tavistock Country Club||70-86–156|
|Patrick Dougherty, Philadelphia Cricket Club||78-79–157|
|Sam Sherrill, Downingtown Country Club||78-79–157|
|Andy Butler, Huntingdon Valley Country Club||78-79–157|
|Andrew Carnevale, North Hills Country Club||78-79–157|
|Tom Grady, Radley Run Country Club||77-80–157|
|Matthew Toto, Woodcrest Country Club||77-80–157|
|Michael Carr, Philadelphia Cricket Club||76-81–157|
|Ronan Culligan, Saucon Valley Country Club||74-83–157|
|Ryan Gelrod, Philadelphia Cricket Club||78-80–158|
|Jordan Cooper, Woodcrest Country Club||78-80–158|
|Sean Ryan, Huntingdon Valley Country Club||77-81–158|
|Drew Garis, North Hills Country Club||77-81–158|
|Connor McNicholas, The 1912 Club||73-85–158|
|Luke Smith, Northampton Country Club||77-82–159|
|Gwinyai Murahwa, North Hills Country Club||75-84–159|
|Paul Rogowicz, Yardley Country Club||78-82–160|
|Anthony Saltarelli, Philmont Country Club||77-83–160|
|Domenick Trentalange, LuLu Country Club||75-85–160|
|Chris Orlando, Paxon Hollow Country Club||78-83–161|
|Jeff Long, Riverton Country Club||77-84–161|
|Jason Wilson, Olde Homestead Golf Club||74-WD–WD|