Pillar powers way to medal in #GAPOpen Qual. at Wyoming Valley
WILKES-BARRE, Pa. – The Country Club at Woodloch Springs’ Alex Pillar has picked up a thing or two from his dad, John. After all, the elder Pillar is a former U.S. Open competitor with endless experience in the GAP region.
Monday at Wyoming Valley Country Club (par 71, 6,178 yards), the younger Pillar put those lessons on display, bettering his dad and 29 championships hopefuls en route to #GAPOpen Qualifier medalist honors. He carded a 2-under-par 69.
For the field of 24 amateurs and five professionals, the cut line stopped at 2-over 73 on the day. The championship proper will be held at Huntingdon Valley Country Club July 17-18.
Things really couldn’t have started anymore ideally than it did for Pillar. His drive on No. 1 (par 5, 493 yards) landed nicely in the right first-cut, and from 190 yards out, he pured a 7-iron that landed short and ran out to six feet. The eagle was jarred. One hole played, two-under par.
“Yeah, that was pretty nice,” said Pillar, of Hawley, Pa. “Starting out with an eagle like that? Can’t really complain.”
Starting with that highlight let Pillar settle into safety mode earlier than expected. Before the round, he had his mind set on even par or 1 under as the number needed to advance. The back nine made sure of that, and then some.
After a punch out and eventual bogey on the par-5, 508-yard 11th, Pillar’s putter got hot. A driver, 3-wood recipe led to a tap-in birdie on the following 12th hole (par 5, 532 yards). A 5-footer fell for a 3 on the 403-yard 14th hole. Last but not least, the third birdie of the back side came on No. 16 (par 4, 340 yards) after a wedge from 120 yards led to a 12-foot make.
“It could have been better, too, after a three-putt on No. 18 (par 4, 351 yards),” said Pillar. “But the goal was to just be one of the eight guys to get through.”
Pillar is a recent graduate of Wallenpaupack Area High School, where he thrived for the school’s golf team. He’s set to leave Aug. 15 to begin his collegiate career at Newberry College in Newberry (S.C.).
While the 18-year-old’s name has yet to be on a #GAPOpen tee sheet, he’s got more experience than most first-timers. He’s a frequent caddie partner for his dad at Major championships. The elder Pillar, a former Philadelphia Section PGA President and current director of golf at Woodloch Springs, has racked up an impressive professional resume. He’s excelled competing in both in the Section (2014 Pennsylvanian Open champion and 2009 Philadelphia PGA Section champion) and nationally (competed in both the 1997 U.S. Open and 2017 U.S. Senior Open).
The younger Pillar has been taking notes all along.
“I love to take notes when I’m out with my Dad or when I’m watching other pros. I learn a lot from them, especially about their mindsets. I’m young, so I haven’t really gotten the chance to play in a ton of big [Major tournaments.] I’ve played in a bunch of junior championships, and those have been a good test for me,” said Pillar. “But playing against the best of the best amateurs and pros in the area is going to be a big one.”
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 274 Full Member Clubs and 75,000 individual members are spread across the Eastern half of Pennsylvania and parts of New Jersey and Delaware. The GAP’s mission is to promote, preserve and protect the game of golf.
|Name, club, score|
|(a)Alex Pillar, CC at Woodloch Springs||69|
|(a)Troy Kelleher, Country Club of Scranton||70|
|(a)Michael Thomas, Scranton Municipal Golf Course||70|
|(a)Mariano Medico, Fox Hill Country Club||71|
|(a)Mark Coassolo, Brookside CC of Allentown||72|
|(a)Jason Wilson, Philadelphia Publinks GA||72|
|(a)Christopher Cerminaro, Glenmaura National Golf Club||73|
|Eddie Perrino, Eagle Rock Golf & Resort||73|
|(a)Kevin Rossi, Scranton Municipal Golf Course||73|
|(a)Jonathan Wilson, Irem Country Club||73|
|Failed to qualify|
|(a)Thomas Dzwonczyk, Country Club of Scranton||74|
|(a)Tyler McGarry, Fox Hill Country Club||74|
|Ross Brown, Fox Hill Country Club||75|
|John Pillar, Sr., CC at Woodloch Springs||75|
|(a)Owen Brown, Coatesville Country Club||76|
|(a)Geoffrey Cooper, North Hills Country Club||76|
|(a)Kevin Maguire, Trump National Golf Club – Philadelphia||77|
|(a)Matthew Bastian, Jr., Rolling Green Golf Club||78|
|(a)Peter Blasi, Jr., Wyoming Valley Country Club||79|
|(a)Tyler Marchese, Glenmaura National Golf Club||79|
|(a)Shane Angle, Wyoming Valley Country Club||81|
|Dom DiJulia, Jericho National Golf Club||81|
|(a)Tyler Rae, Bidermann Golf Club||83|
|(a)Thorne Ranieri, Rolling Green Golf Club||83|
|(a)Gene Van Horn, Pocono Manor Golf Club||83|
|Jake Savitski, Wyoming Valley Country Club||86|
|(a)Ron Kearns, Pocono Manor Golf Club||91|
|(a)Jon Wise, Wyoming Valley Country Club||91|
|(a)John Bradbeer, Merion Golf Club||WD|
|WD – withdrawal|
|(a) – amateur|