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Philadelphia Cricket reclaims BMW GAP Team Matches title

Philadelphia Cricket Club 1 sang its redemption song in the BMW GAP Team Matches Sunday.

Playoff & Challenges results |
  A year removed from a disappointing four-point Playoff loss to Little Mill Country Club, Cricket belted out a resounding chorus, posting 78.5 points to quell a lingering ire. It defeated Huntingdon Valley Country Club (61.5), Little Mill (49) and Glenmaura National Golf Club (27) to capture its third title (2013, 2015) in the last five years.

“[The loss last year] was talked about a lot. There was a very bitter taste in a lot of mouths,” team captain Kevin Kelly said. “I think we erased the bitterness pretty well today.”

“Everybody was really committed and amped up to play. Everybody remembered the frustration from last year,” Ryan Gelrod, who swept all three of his matches at Huntingdon Valley Sunday, added. “We wanted to make sure we got it done this year. Kevin Kelly kind of reminded us each week, ‘Remember what happened last year. Let’s not let that happen again.’ Last year is last year now.”

Philadelphia Cricket 1 waited eight days to wash away the leftover disappointment. Only one of the Playoff participants — Glenmaura National — completed play on the scheduled date (May 13). Huntingdon Valley, Little Mill and Philadelphia Cricket needed to postpone the postseason finale due to soaking rains and unplayable course conditions.

The results at Glenmaura left Philadelphia Cricket merely a point behind Huntingdon Valley entering Sunday. Joe April, occupying the No. 2 spot, came away with 8.5 points playing against Huntingdon Valley’s Jeff Osberg, the two-time reigning William Hyndman, III Player of the Year.

“It got us off on the right foot for sure,” Jack Wallace, a Philadelphia Cricket member who served as captain for the club’s second team, said. If Joe just has an average day and loses to Osberg, we’re kind of behind the 8-ball.”

Overall, that No. 2 spot yielded a whopping 34 points for Philadelphia Cricket. Gelrod, as mentioned, collected nine points at Huntingdon Valley. A 15-footer for birdie on No. 1 there set a stellar tone for the day.

“I played very well. When I missed greens, I missed them in places I could play from. I think that’s one of the keys to playing that golf course,” Gelrod, 45, of Ambler, Pa., said. “Huntingdon Valley is difficult, especially when it’s firm and fast like it was today. I tend to like when the course is difficult. I’ve been working hard on my game and haven’t really gotten the results I’ve been looking for. Today was hopefully a good sign.”

At Little Mill, Michael Carr swept all three of his matches for nine points. Sam McFall rounded out the No. 2 warriors with 8.5 points at home.

“I played very well for the first 12 holes and kind of hung on in the end,” McFall, 36, of Wyndmoor, Pa., said. “You’re just fighting for every point. You’re just trying to grind out every hole. My opponents are all great players, and I could see them struggling as much as I was.”

Speaking of the number two, Philadelphia Cricket Club 2 persevered in a Challenge match against Spring Ford Country Club, 32–22, to retain its place in Division AA. Kelly imposed a self-demotion for the sake of an intended youth movement at the top. It worked out; he and Jose Rovelli swept their respective singles matches as well as the better-ball portion.

“I took a lot of abuse from a lot of guys this week about not playing on Team One. But you know what, there are guys playing better than I, and that’s OK,” Kelly, 50, of Horsham, Pa., said. “Guys were very candid about where their games were and the experience they had at places.”

Interchanging lineups weekly didn’t cause unrest among the Cricket crew. All involved shared the same vision. Multiple text and e-mail chains addressed the frustration of 2016 and expectation of 2017.

“I think everybody had the one goal to get the title back to Flourtown,” McFall said. “It didn’t matter who was in the lineup any given week. It was all about bringing it home for Cricket.”

“I came up [to Philadelphia Cricket] two or three times during the week, and there were plenty of guys here hitting balls,” Wallace, 33, of Norristown, Pa., said. “There were a lot of texts going out asking who’s out there and wants to play nine. Everybody was kind of taking care of their business, working on their own games and getting ready.”

Philadelphia Cricket, one of the Association’s founding Member Clubs, appears ready to build a BMW GAP Team Matches legacy of sorts. Kelly foresees its stable of talent sticking around for years to come.

“This should be a nice, long run,” he said. “It seems like in the BMW GAP Team Matches, we’re always going to be the favorites. It’s a fun spot to be in, but it’s not always easy. You still have to go out, hit the shots and make the putts.”

BMW GAP Team Matches
Since 1897, the BMW GAP Team Matches has been contested annually, save World War II (1943-45) and the severe ice storm of 1994. The Association’s forefathers conceived the Matches to promote spirit, fellowship and camaraderie. It started with the four founding clubs — Belmont Golf Association (now Aronimink Golf Club), Merion Cricket Club, Philadelphia Country Club and Philadelphia Cricket — each fielding two teams with six players per side. First known as the Interclub Team Matches, the event changed to the Suburban League Matches in 1915 before adopting its current moniker in 1997. BMW returns for a third year as the event’s presenting sponsor.

Golf Association of Philadelphia
Founded in 1897, the Golf Association of Philadelphia (GAP) is the oldest regional golf association in the United States and serves as the principal ruling body of amateur golf in its region. Its 153 Full Member Clubs and 57,000 individual members are spread across parts of Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Delaware. As Philadelphia’s Most Trusted Source of Golf Information, the Golf Association of Philadelphia’s mission is to promote, preserve and protect the game of golf.