Storied terrain meets storied tournament come July 17-18. That’s when beautiful Huntingdon Valley Country Club hosts the GAP Open Championship for the eighth time in the event’s 115-year history.
The GAP Open Championship is a two-day, 36-hole stroke play event — a change implemented in 2017. A field of 131 players (87 amateurs, 44 professionals) will be cut to the low 60 and ties after Round One. The GAP Open Championship is the third Major of the tournament season. It is a William Hyndman, III Player of the Year event.
Billy Stewart, an assistant professional at The ACE Club, returns to defend his title. He snapped a streak of eight-straight wins by amateurs with his victory a year ago at St. Davids Golf Club. Stewart defeated Jeff Osberg, an amateur out of Pine Valley Golf Club, and Brett Melton, a professional at Radley Run Country Club, in a four-hole aggregate playoff.
Stewart brings an impressive streak of his own to Huntingdon Valley. He’s posted five consecutive Top-5 finishes in the GAP Open Championship. Furthermore, he earned runner-up and low professional honors in 2013, falling to then amateur Brandon Matthews in a four-hole aggregate playoff at Waynesborough Country Club.
“It happens to be one of my favorite tournaments of the year,” Stewart, 35, of Devon, Pa., said. “I’ve always been a fan of the way Kirby [Martin, GAP Director of Competitions] sets up the Open Championship. He likes to make the courses as challenging as possible yet fair enough that nobody complains. Usually par is a good score. I imagine that will be a good score at Huntingdon Valley.”
Stewart brings plenty of Open success and Huntingdon Valley experience to the table. He competes in the Philadelphia Section PGA William Hyndman, III Memorial Classic, held annually at the club. Stewart won that event in 2014. During his amateur golf days, he captured the GAP Junior Boys’ Championship in 2000 at Huntingdon Valley.
“It’s a difficult golf course, but I’ve played it many, many times,” Stewart said. “You just need to take it one shot at time at Huntingdon Valley. One errant shot can cost you pretty quick out there.”
Osberg, who is paired with Stewart and 2018 Junior Player of the Year Ryan Tall, agrees with that Huntingdon Valley assessment. He, like Stewart, enters the Open Championship with venue experience and success on his side. A former Huntingdon Valley member of six years (2013-18), Osberg won the 2016 Joseph H. Patterson Cup and medaled in a 2014 U.S. Mid-Amateur Qualifier at the club.
“I’m obviously extremely excited about the Open being at Huntingdon Valley. I think Huntingdon Valley is one of the top courses in Philadelphia. It’s obviously a place I’m very familiar with,” Osberg, 35, of Bryn Mawr, Pa., said. “I’ve played a lot of good tournament rounds there. It’s challenging and should be a good test of golf.”
Osberg, a two-time William Hyndman, III Player of the Year (2015-16), also carries momentum into Huntingdon Valley. He earned runner-up honors in the 2019 BMW Philadelphia Amateur Championship at Stonewall and posted a Top-10 finish in the Middle-Amateur Championship.
“I feel really good about my game right now. I’m hoping that I can put it all together for 36 holes next week and hopefully put myself in contention toward the end,” Osberg, who captured the 2018 men’s club championship at Huntingdon Valley, said. “I’m excited for [Wednesday’s] pairing. I’ve played a lot of golf with Billy. He’s been one of the top pros in our section for a long time, but even before that he was obviously the best Junior golfer of my generation. He’s fun to be around and a really easygoing guy. Hopefully we can feed off each other in a positive way.”
Osberg (2016) and Stewart represent two of nine former Open Champions in the field. That list includes Matthew Mattare of Saucon Valley Country Club (2017); Andrew Mason of Huntingdon Valley (2011-12); Michael R. Brown, Jr. of Lu Lu Country Club (2010); Rich Steinmetz of Spring Ford Country Club (2009); David Quinn of Philmont Country Club (2006); Terry Hertzog of Country Club of York (2001) and Stuart Ingraham of MGOLF Driving Range & Learning Facility (1994).
Mason is one of five Huntingdon Valley members in the field, which also features Overbrook Golf Club’s Ashley Grier. She is the first female to compete in the Open Championship since Kimberly Verrecchio (2004). Grier earned an exemption thanks to her Top-10 performance in the 2018 Philadelphia PGA Professional Championship.
GAP Hall of Famer R. Jay Sigel holds the most Open titles at six. He won all of those as an amateur. Overall, amateur players triumphed on 20 occasions.
Open Championship participants include professionals who are members in good standing of the Philadelphia Section PGA, head professionals of GAP Member Clubs and amateurs who are members of GAP Member Clubs and carry a GAP/USGA handicap index of 7.0 or less.
Total purse for the Open is $30,000. The low professional receives $6,000.
Connect with the Open Championship via GAP’s social media channels (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram). Use #GAPOpen when posting.
As always, the public and media are welcome to attend.
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.