May 12, 2012

Little Mill Country Club retains GAP Team Matches title

 In one of the tightest Playoff tussles to date, Little Mill Country Club held it together at home to emerge victorious in the 2012 edition of the GAP Team Matches. The Marlton, N.J. club successfully kept its crown intact by fending off Philadelphia Cricket Club, Overbrook Golf Club and Merion Golf Club May 12.
  “We’re very excited,” Little Mill’s captain Ryan McCarty said. “After the Week Two loss to Llanerch, we felt deflated. But we stayed together and won the next week against Huntingdon Valley [to get into the Playoff]. We felt like we had a second life coming in.”
  Little Mill, the first repeat GTM winner since Tavistock Country Club in 2005-06, earned 66 points in the Playoff — a slim 3.5 clear of nearest rival Philadelphia Cricket — to prevail. Overbrook used a commanding performance at home to climb into third place with 58 points overall. Merion finished fourth with 29.5 points.
  “The fact that it was close makes it feel pretty sweet,” McCarty said. “How close it was this year is just a testament to how our strong all four teams were, and we knew that coming in.”
  “I’m pretty proud of our performance,” Philadelphia Cricket’s Robert Savarese, Jr. said. “I thought it was a great season overall. To be 3-0, finish second in AA in points and to have some of the top point-getters in all the Team Matches is a great foundation for the future. I’m really looking forward to the next few years.”
  Players competing at Philadelphia Cricket and Merion teed off before those stationed at the other two venues. Little Mill’s effort at Philadelphia Cricket thrust the team into an early advantage. Matthew Gaffney, Lance Oberparleiter and Dan Ott collectively earned 19.5 points. Little Mill also led all teams in scoring at Merion with 16 points. However, it stood just a half-point ahead of Philadelphia Cricket — led by a nine-point output from Mark Peterson, the Association’s Executive Director.
  As the day went on, Philadelphia Cricket continued to breathe down Little Mill’s neck. Ryan Gelrod led the club’s effort at Overbrook, contributing 8.5 points to its 13.5 total. Overbrook joined Philadelphia Cricket in its close pursuit as Robert Cunningham, Francis McFadden and Andy Thompson combined to post 21 points.
  Before the results from Little Mill became official, the club held a 5.5-point advantage over Philadelphia Cricket. It needed a sufficient point-total at home to again top the GAP Team Matches world. Led by James Arsenault, Little Mill posted 16.5 points on its turf. Its victory validates Little Mill’s branding as one of the elite teams in Division AA.
  “We didn’t know if it [last year’s victory] was a fluke because we came out of nowhere,” McCarty said. “Last year was our first in the AA Division. We didn’t know if it was a flash in a pan or something like that. Winning again definitely makes us feel pretty good about ourselves.”
  Philadelphia Cricket came within a point-handful of its first GAP Team Matches crown.
  “Everybody was disappointed, but at the same time, everybody is just looking at the future,” Savarese said. “As much as we all wanted to win this year, I almost think there was a sense that it might not happen this year, but the chances it’s going to happen are pretty good. We’re just going to get better.”   Despite the loss, Overbrook, too, feels poised for the future.
  “It’s nice to feel like we still have a couple of years left because we have nice young players here,” Overbrook’s captain Oscar Mestre said. “It’s the youth’s time to step up.”
  Merion’s consistency is a source of encouragement for its GAP Team Matches future. The club has advanced to the Playoff three consecutive years.
  “The large reason we were there is because some of these guys that were in the background in prior years are stepping up as the main players for the club. That was great to see,” Merion’s captain Michael McDermott said. “It was a good run. We still have one more thing we’d like to check off once we reach the final, but getting there three years in a row is certainly unique.”
  NOTES–Five of eight Division A teams won their respective Challenge Match against a Division AA opponent. Aronimink Golf Club, Back Creek Golf Club, Bent Creek Country Club, Meadia Heights Golf Club and Old York Country Club at Chesterfield all moved into the upper echeleon division for 2013.
  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.

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