Billy Reube never won a tournament in high school or college. Saturday, Reube, unbeknownst at the time, sank the defining putt for Huntingdon Valley Country Club Team 1 as it secured a record, and unexpected, 33rd BMW GAP Team Matches title.
Reube, 27, a trader for Corbin Capital Partners who lives and works in Manhattan, N.Y. but returns to the area on the weekends to visit family, rolled in a six-foot par save playing in the last group at the final Playoff site to give HVCC 68.5 points. That was good enough for a two-point victory over favorite Lu Lu Country Club 1. A bogey would have resulted in a 2.5-point swing, and given Lu Lu its first Team Matches title. Philadelphia Cricket Club 2 finished third with 49.5 points. Overbrook Golf Club 1 placed fourth with 31.5 points.
Two-time defending champion Philadelphia Cricket Club 1 lost to Lu Lu in the round-robin portion thus ending any chance of a three-peat.
Reube represented HVCC at Overbrook.
“I knew [the putt] was worth a couple points but I didn’t know it was for everything. If I knew, [the putt] wouldn’t have hit the hole,” said a laughing Reube, who attended North Penn High School and Drexel University. “It would have been a stab, cut and it would have been long left with a three-footer coming back. I’ve never won a golf tournament or even been in a critical position before. It was cool to experience it for the first time myself.”
The Playoff format, different from the regular season, features three players from each participating club at each venue. Each player competes in a three-way match. The wet weather in the area forced two of the four sites – Huntingdon Valley and Overbrook – to delay the Playoff until today. The other two sites finished on the original Playoff date, May 11. After those two sessions, Lu Lu led Huntingdon Valley by 4.5 points.
“This is unexpected,” said an ecstatic Dan Pinciotti, Jr., Huntingdon Valley’s captain the last nine years. “Lu Lu has such a stout team. We thought overcoming 4.5 points was going to be extremely difficult. It’s a shocking result.”
HVCC won its last BMW GAP Team Match title in 2010. Doug Gregor was the captain. Only three members of that squad are part of this year’s team: Pinciotti, Sean Ryan and Sean Seese.
“Everyone was invested. Everyone wanted it this year,” said Pinciotti, 47, of Ivyland, Pa. “The guys have been committed from day one. Everyone was out here early in the season and working on their games. Everyone had the same mindset. We wanted to take this thing.”
Both sites started at 10 a.m. The matches at HVCC finishing approximately 45 minutes before Overbrook. When the numbers from Huntingdon Valley posted, the eventual champs moved ahead of Lu Lu, 51.5-49.5. The home course hero was Harvard University rising sophomore Brian Isztwan. In town after placing 26th in the recent Ivy League Championship (April 19-21), he took 7.5 out of a possible 9 points.
The HVCC lead was short-lived, however. Lu Lu regained the advantage when point totals from the first two Overbrook groups posted. The main Lu Lu salvo coming from top GAP senior Glenn Smeraglio. He swept all nine points. Lu Lu led by three points with one group to finish.
“I was very confident in our team coming into today,” said McLaughlin, 39, of Ambler, Pa., Lu Lu’s captain the last three years. “It’s very disappointing. We lost to Huntingdon Valley last year in the first week. For whatever reason, these guys are our Achilles heel right now. We have to find a way to get past them.”
Mark Farley was Lu Lu’s representative in the final grouping. He and Reube are close friends from their caddying days at Squires Golf Club. Reube is also tight with Lu Lu team member Connor McNicholas. All exchange frequent text messages.
“I wasn’t really paying attention to what was going on,” said Reube. “Mark and I were talking the entire round. He was at the U.S. Amateur Four-Ball with [Connor] and we were just recapping that. It was just a fun round.”
Reube’s path to the clinching par wasn’t an easy one. He hit his drive into the left fescue before knocking his second shot into the right greenside bunker. His sand shot stopped six feet from the cup. He’s been working on his short game – with some help.
“I don’t get a chance to play a ton but I do practice when I can,” said Reube. “It’s funny. Connor has helped me revamp my short game, changing the path, over the last year-and-a-half. It’s really paying dividends.”