May 23, 2005

Middle-Amateur begins Championship season

 The Golf Association of Philadelphia rings in the Major Championship season with the 22nd Middle-Amateur Championship on Wednesday and Thursday at Spring Mill Country Club. The Middle-Amateur is for players 25 years of age and older.

  Michael McDermott of Merion GC is the defending champion and looks to become the first three-time winner of the event. Last year, McDermott birdied the final hole at Gulph Mills GC to edge Chris Lange of Overbrook GC, the eventual William Hyndman, III Player of the Year, by a shot. McDermott also captured the 2001 Mid-Am at Coatesville CC.

  “I think right now our association is as competitive as ever,” said McDermott, 30, of Havertown, Pa., who also captured the title in 2001. “There are so many guys who can win all these tournaments and shoot so many good scores. I could name 30 guys who could win.”

  Players looking to challenge McDermott include Brian Gillespie, the 2001 Amateur Champion; Tom Gramigna, the current and three-time New Jersey State Golf Association Mid-Am champion; Lange, the 2004 Open Champion and Player of the Year; Oscar Mestre, Jr., the 2002 Mid-Am champion; Bill McGuinness, the 2003 Mid-Am runner-up; Glenn Smeraglio, a two-time Silver Cross winner; Mike Tash, the 2004 Patterson Cup and Silver Cross champion; and P. Chet Walsh, a perennial championship contender.

  The GAP Middle-Amateur started in 1984, three years after the 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 Mid-Am was for players 30 years of age and older. That 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.

  “The Mid-Am means being amongst the top amateurs over the age of 25,” said Zelner, 42, of Coatesville, Pa., the 2001 runner-up to McDermott. “It is a good test of golf over two consecutive days and it requires good mental strength to handle competing with such a field of excellent players.”

  This is the first full scoring event toward the William Hyndman, III Player of the Year standings.

  Other past champions of the Mid-Am include David K. Brookreson of Huntingdon Valley CC (1986, “88), Michael Tash of Tavistock CC (1994), Michael Rose of Philmont CC (1995) and Chip Lutz of Berkshire CC (1998).

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