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Merion GC’s Dendler takes 101st Open Championship

NEWTOWN SQUARE, Pa. – Graham Dendler, an assistant professional at Merion GC, turned a potentially disastrous situation on his 35th hole into the bogey of a lifetime to secure a victory in the 101st Open Championship at Aronimink GC (par 70, 7,125 yards) on Wednesday. Dendler finished the 36-hole stroke play event at 2-over par, one shot clear of John Pillar, Sr., the Director of Golf at Woodloch Springs GC, and two strokes ahead of amateur Clint Deibert of Doylestown CC and Overbrook GC professional Stu Ingraham.

  “This is unbelievable,” said a stunned Dendler. “This is by the far the biggest feat in my career.”

  On a hot, humid day, Dendler came to the 17th hole (par 3, 202 yards) in his final round at 1-over par, a shot clear of Pillar. His 4-iron, however, landed in the bunker short and right of the green leaving a pitch to a back hole location. Dendler bladed his blast and it landed in an area used to access the maintenance shed. With, in essence, the tournament in the balance, Dendler’s flop shot rolled up tight and he converted the putt for a bogey.

  Dendler parred his final hole and Pillar posted a bogey-par finish on Nos. 8-9, his final two holes.

  “I expected it to be out of bounds. If that was the case, it was definitely the tournament,” said Dendler, 33, of Havertown, Pa. “It was an amazing up and down considering the circumstances.”

  Dendler’s lone challenger down the stretch was Pillar. 

  The 38-year-old resident of Hawley, Pa., found himself in a tie with two holes to go. Pillar, though, missed the green on the long par 3, 8th (237 yards), his 17th hole, and left a birdie chance from 25 feet an inch short on No. 9 (par 5, 556 yards).

  “I made some sloppy mistakes,” said Pillar. “I don’t have a club for that 8th hole. I hit a 2-iron and it caught the tree [to the right of the green]. I hit a poor chip shot and made a nice five footer for bogey. I’m very happy with how I played, however.”

  Pillar registered the lone under-par round of the tournament with a 2-under 68 in the morning. That gave him a three-shot lead.

  Deibert, the reigning Golf Association of Philadelphia Amateur Champion, found himself in contention late with nine holes to go after carding a 2-under-par 33 on his front side in the afternoon. However, Deibert registered three straight bogeys on his back nine and two more bogeys in the middle of that inward swing to fall back.

  “I tried to step on the accelerator and pin chase and short sided myself a couple of times,” said Deibert on that final nine holes. “I hit it in places you couldn’t hit it.”

  Deibert was looking to become only the second Amateur Champion to capture an Open Championship in the same year. Jay Sigel, in 1987, is the only one to turn that feat.

  Dendler carded a 2-over-par 72 in the first round and was in a group of 10 players within four shots of the lead after the morning session. He carded three birdies and three bogeys in the final round to earn the biggest victory of his career and the $4,900 first-place prize.

  A field of 45 professionals and 15 amateurs competed in the Open.

NameClubRd. 1Rd. 2Total
Graham DendlerMerion Golf Club7270142
John Pillar, Sr.Woodloch Springs Country Club6875143
(a) Clint DeibertDoylestown Country Club7173144
Stuart IngrahamOverbrook Golf Club7272144
Rich SteinmetzSpring Ford Country Club7273145
(a) John SawinMerion Golf Club7274146
Thomas RyanThe Springhaven Club7176147
Barry DearSouth Jersey Golf Center7376149
David QuinnLinks Golf Club7574149
(a) Michael McDermottMerion Golf Club7674150
(a) Jamie SlonisTavistock Country Club7773150
John SpinaTalamore at Oak Terrace Country Club7476150
David McNabbCavaliers Country Club7674150
Gregory FarrowDeerwood Country Club7575150
James MasserioAronimink Golf Club7674150
John ApplegetHarbor Pines Golf Club7476150
Jamie KomancheckRiverCrest Golf Club & Preserve7576151
(a) Tug MaudeMerion Golf Club7577152
John DiMarcoLaurel Creek Country Club8072152
(a) Christopher LangeOverbrook Golf Club7776153
(a) Chris GallagherPenn Oaks Golf Club7281153
Scott EdwardsChesapeake Bay Golf Club7875153
Terry HertzogBent Creek Country Club7281153
(a) Glenn SmeraglioYardley Country Club7876154
(a) Kyle DavisInniscrone Golf Club7975154
(a) Robert Galbreath, Jr.Huntingdon Valley Country Club7777154
David Seeman, Jr.White Clay Creek Country Club7282154
Mark AndersonHeidelberg Country Club7579154
Rick HughartTavistock Country Club7678154
Orist Wells, Jr.Pitman Golf Club7976155
Dave RobertsCedarbrook Country Club7580155
Wayne PhillipsLehigh Country Club7481155
(a) David LiottaWhitemarsh Valley Country Club7878156
George ForsterRadnor Valley Country Club7581156
William WalkerTalamore at Oak Terrace Country Club7878156
Mark ShefticSunnybrook Golf Club7878156
Steve MadsenWilmington Country Club8373156
John AllenSunnybrook Golf Club7879157
John CooperMeadowlands Country Club7780157
(a) Brian GillespieSt. Davids Golf Club7682158
David OlexsonHuntingdon Valley Country Club8177158
Tom OxenreiderWoods Golf Center, Inc.8078158
(a) Gui CostinMerion Golf Club7386159
Gary DeetscreekIsland Green Country Club8079159
William SautterTalamore at Oak Terrace Country Club7782159
(a) Bryant ReyesHartefeld National8278160
Paul OglesbyMerion Golf Club8278160
(a) Michael TashTavistock Country Club7982161
George Frake, IILittle Mill Country Club7982161
Robert ShueyValley Green Golf Club7586161
Dan HaskellMedford Lakes Country Club8380163
Michael LaddenPhiladelphia Country Club8381164
Mike MosesConcord Country Club8579164
Vince RamagliBurlington Country Club8183164
Brian KellyBucknell Golf Club8382165
Andrew BarbinChesapeake Bay Golf Club8383166
Casey O’ReillyBala Golf Club8682168
Kevin EdwardsRiverview Country Club8286168
Ken DixonBerkshire Country Club8882170
Mark WileyBon Air Country Club8291173