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Players Series: Green Valley

LedgeRock’s Fioravante caps Players Series

LAFAYETTE HILL, Pa. — Nick Fioravante dipped his toes into GAP Major waters a year ago — hoping to gain experience, yearning to make a first impression.

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“I feel like it’s important to get yourself out there and get comfortable with a tournament environment, especially since I play in college. So, when you get into those moments where you’re a few strokes under par, you’re not pressured and you feel like you know what to do. You’ve been there before,” the LedgeRock Golf Club member said.

Fioravante personally felt that moment Wednesday, and he clearly knew what to do. The rising York College sophomore carded a 3-under-par 68 to earn medalist honors in the third and final Players Series event at Green Valley Country Club (par 71, 6,722 yards). Philadelphia Cricket Club’s Patrick Dougherty and Squires Golf Club’s Erik Reisner carded respective even-par 71s to share runner-up honors.

As a result, all of the aforementioned earned exemptions into next year’s Middle-Amateur Championship (if 25 years of age or older), BMW Philadelphia Amateur Championship and Joseph H. Patterson Cup. GAP canceled qualifying for all of its 2020 Majors due to the COVID-19 pandemic. It, in turn, created the Players Series to provide future opportunity for those who lost opportunities to qualify.

A two-pronged strategy fueled Fioravante’s subpar steamroller at Green Valley.

“Hitting lots of greens and knowing which putts to attack and which ones to settle back and accept a two-putt,” Fioravante, 19, of Mohnton, Pa., said. “Everything was pretty much automatic I’d say. I knew that all I had to do was hit greens and roll some nice putts, and I should be OK.”

More than OK. Fioravante, a lean and lengthy linksman, registered 16 greens in regulation. A pair of outward birdies kept his name in contention. On No. 2 (par 4, 377 yards), Fioravante knocked a wedge 80 yards to 12 feet and drained a right-to-left breaker. His 5-iron from 230 yards on the par 5, 543-yard No. 7 landed in the front left bunker. Fioravante splashed into tap-in territory.

Fioravante entered the moment — his moment — after posting back-to-back birdies on Nos. 11 (par 5, 507 yards) and 12 (par 4, 366 yards). On the first, he sent a 7-iron from 185 yards out of a divot and onto the green — some 15 feet above the flagstick. Fioravante, who tempered Green Valley’s true surfaces with a calculated calm, lagged his eagle attempt to three feet. He cleaned up the birdie putt. On No. 12, Fioravante smacked a 60-degree wedge 50 yards to eight feet and sunk another right-to-left breaker.

Perhaps the final two holes best illustrate the mindset Fioravante exhibits in the moment he seeks. Standing a shot clear of the field on No. 17 (par 4, 416 yards), Fioravante, seemingly systematic at this point, hit a knockdown gap wedge 108 yards to eight feet for birdie. However, he blocked his tee shot left into the trees on the next hole (par 4, 400 yards). A hero shot to potentially finish at 5 under, or a safe escape to swallow a bogey and therefore settle for 3 under? Fioravante — to his benefit — chose the latter.

No need to add another close call to his 2020 golf list.

“There was a time when I used to have some of those exemptions, but it was an awfully long time ago.”

Patrick Dougherty

“Overall, this summer has been up and down. I missed the cut in the (Pennsylvania Golf Association) Open Championship (Qualifying) by one and the state amateur by a couple of shots,” Fioravante, who finished third in LedgeRock’s men’s club championship over the weekend, said. “It feels good to have a performance like this today. I was disappointed that there weren’t any qualifiers for the GAP Majors this year. I just figured I’d go out and try to get exemptions for next year.”

Exemptions is a buzzword for Dougherty, a GAP tournament veteran accustomed to the qualifying trail.

“There was a time when I used to have some of those exemptions, but it was an awfully long time ago,” Dougherty, 54, of North Wales, Pa., said. “It just felt good to put a nice round together in a qualifier like this. I birdied the last hole to hit the number, which makes it even more rewarding.”

Sensing he needed red to remain cut line relevant, Dougherty attacked a back-left hole location on the aforementioned 18th hole with a gap wedge from 120 yards. It stopped 10 feet left of the flagstick.  

“I probably wouldn’t have been as aggressive if I was playing a normal round of golf, but given the situation, I sort of went right at it. I made the putt. It was my first birdie of the day,” Dougherty said.

Given the COVID-19 pandemic, Dougherty’s traveled less for business (he works for a commercial real estate investment firm). That’s allowed for more practice sessions, which paid off Wednesday.

“Over the years, I haven’t been able to work on my game as much. This year, it’s kind of reversed itself,” Dougherty said. “I’ve been working hard on my game and feeling pretty good with it. The only thing catching up with me is the age part.”

Green Valley caught up with Reisner, 23, of Philadelphia, Pa. He played his last three holes in 4 over but managed to hang above the cut line.

“I started getting a couple of bad breaks down the stretch,” Reisner, who works in real estate, said. “I’ve played Green Valley a bunch, and I have never seen the greens as fast and firm as they were today. It was awesome.”

GAP
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 288 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.

Qualifiers
Name, clubScore
Nick Fioravante, LedgeRock Golf Club68
Patrick Dougherty, Philadelphia Cricket Club71
Erik Reisner, Squires Golf Club71
Failed to qualify
Brett Brenner, Green Valley Country Club72
Ryan McCarty, Huntingdon Valley Country Club72
Kevin O’Brien, Cedarbrook Country Club72
Michael Carr, Philadelphia Cricket Club73
Justin Elwell, Scotland Run Golf Club73
Mark Farley, The 1912 Club73
Angelo Giantsopoulos, LuLu Country Club73
Pete Moran, Whitford Country Club73
Sean Seese, Huntingdon Valley Country Club73
Andrew Wallace, Green Valley Country Club73
Rodney Anders, Indian Valley Country Club74
Brendan Borst, Philadelphia Cricket Club74
Nick Verrecchio, Rolling Green Golf Club74
John Weber, Conestoga Country Club74
Nelson Hargrove, Merion Golf Club75
Marc Mandel, Philadelphia Cricket Club75
Nick Pasquale, Blue Heron Pines Golf Club75
Mark Hill, Rolling Green Golf Club76
Nick Madden, LuLu Country Club76
Chris Meares, Sakima Country Club76
Greg Welsh, Talamore Country Club76
Ryan Beck, Old York Road Country Club77
Garrett Conway, Little Mill Country Club77
Patrick Donaldson, Woodcrest Country Club77
Michael Hamilton, Waynesborough Country Club77
Milo Jezzeny, The Bucks Club77
Matt Lafond, Blue Bell Country Club77
Steve Oh, Running Deer Golf Club77
Patrick Pasquariello, Philadelphia Country Club77
Nikita Romanov, Loch Nairn Golf Club77
Brett Cybulski, Links Golf Club78
Michael Fireman, Philadelphia Cricket Club78
Matthew Fleming, Spring Mill Country Club78
Nathan Guertler, Tavistock Country Club78
Andy Kerestesy, Running Deer Golf Club78
Chris Walker, Whitemarsh Valley Country Club78
Josh Anderson, Philadelphia Publinks GA79
Greg Blackburn, Honeybrook Golf Club79
Jake Fazio, Huntingdon Valley Country Club79
Beau Guarino, Riverton Country Club79
Sean Semenetz, Philadelphia Cricket Club79
Christopher Bell, McCall Golf Club80
Chris Merce, Philadelphia Publinks GA80
Nick Ostash, Five Ponds Golf Club80
Jonathan Radick, Spring Mill Country Club80
Kevin Turner, Llanerch Country Club80
Simon Asadoorian, Heidelberg Country Club81
Josh Bennett, Running Deer Golf Club81
Kyle Dolby, Waynesborough Country Club81
Darren Nolan, LuLu Country Club81
Stephen Butler, Indian Valley Country Club82
Epi Delapaz, Gilbertsville Golf Club82
J.R. Fasy, Wilmington Country Club82
Brian Lipps, Tavistock Country Club82
Josh Brauer, Spring Ford Country Club83
Joe Kerrigan, Llanerch Country Club83
Michael Schwert, Llanerch Country Club83
John Barry, Lancaster Country Club84
Adam Bracy, Tavistock Country Club84
Michael Coleman, Bucknell Golf Club84
Matt Dudas, Indian Valley Country Club84
Justin Katz, Rolling Green Golf Club84
Brent Schoeller, Huntingdon Valley Country Club84
Jeffrey Cooper, Jeffersonville Golf Club85
Andy McCormick, The ACE Club85
Jim Rosenbaum, Old York Road Country Club85
Voltaire Escalona, Philadelphia Cricket Club86
Tyler Joseph, Green Valley Country Club88
Greg Wasserson, Green Valley Country Club88
Jordan Winick, Green Valley Country Club88
Jason Rieger, Sunnybrook Golf Club91
John VanDame, Jr., Talamore Country Club95
Brendan McNamara, The ACE Club96
Delong Tan, Five Ponds Golf ClubNS
Luke Fayocavitz, Glen Oak Country ClubWD
NS — no show; WD — withdrawal