BLUE BELL, Pa.–Jamie Slonis of Tavistock CC braved stifling weather conditions to earn the top seed in the match play draw for the 105th Amateur Championship with a 2-under-par 141 in qualifying on Tuesday at Cedarbrook CC (par 72, 6,959 yards) and Green Valley CC (par 71, 6,757 yards).
A field of 131 players vied for the 32 match play slots that determine the Golf Association of Philadelphia Amateur Champion. The first and second rounds of the Amateur Championship are set for tomorrow. The first round begins at 8 a.m. with second-round tee times to follow. The quarterfinals and semifinals are scheduled for Thursday with the 36-hole final set for Saturday, June 18. All matches will be played at Cedarbrook CC.
“It’s a nice honor [to be medallist] because it’s an event everyone shoots to play well in,” said Slonis, 36, of Sewell, N.J. “I haven’t really put it all together for a day [recently]. This is the first day I played fairly solid from start to finish.”
Slonis carded an even-par 70 at Green Valley CC in the morning before recording a 2-under-par 70 at Cedarbrook CC in the p.m. Players completed 18 holes at each course in qualifying. A playoff for the final match play position fell at the two-round total of 154. Three players contested for the one spot with Chris Sylvia of Little Mill CC surviving.
Slonis opened his day with a 2-under-par 33 on the backside at Green Valley CC, his opening nine, but finished bogey, double bogey to drop to even after one round. At Cedarbrook CC, Slonis wasn’t about to let that happen again.
He made the turn with an even-par 36 after carding two birdies and two bogeys. A kick-in birdie on the 10th (par 5, 531 yards) and a short putt on No. 12 (par 5, 516 yards) moved him back into red digits. However, bogeys on No. 15 (poor drive) and 16 (poor iron shot), started leaving that bad taste in his mouth again. He put a stop to that rather quickly, though, knocking a pitching wedge from 127 yards to three feet on No. 17 (par 4, 418 yards) and a sand wedge from 82 yards on No. 18 (par 4, 431 yards) to a foot.
“I wanted to avoid the big mistakes,” said Slonis, who works in the finance world. “I putted really well today. I had a couple three putts from long distances, but I made my fair share of 10-15-20 footers.”
The Amateur Championship Qualifier also serves as qualifying for the Open Championship and the initial two scores of the Silver Cross. Slonis was the low qualifier for the Open Championship as well and, obviously, currently leads the Silver Cross. However, his chance at winning the coveted cross an award that dates back to 1902 and awarded to the player with the lowest aggregate score in the qualifying rounds of the Amateur Championship and the two rounds of the Patterson Cup won’t happen.
Slonis is set to travel to Scotland in August for the British Middle-Amateur Championship at Muirfield Golf Club. He is exempt for the tournament based on qualifying for match play of the U.S. Mid-Am Championship at Wilmington CC two years ago.
“I figured it would be a once in a lifetime chance,” said Slonis.
A number of prominent figures in the Golf Association of Philadelphia qualified for match play, including Brian Gillespie, the 2001 Amateur Champion; Chris Lange of Overbrook GC, a three-time Amateur Champion and reigning Player of the Year; Michael McDermott of Merion GC, a three-time Player of the Year and Michael Tash of Tavistock CC, the 2003 Amateur Champion.
Other past champions in the match play field include Chris Anderson of Wilmington CC (1982-83) and Bill McGuinness of Tavistock CC (1996).
Perhaps the most intriguing story of the tournament comes from Robert Galbreath, Jr. of Huntingdon Valley CC. Galbreath, who turned 14 years old today, carded a 152 total, 9-over-par, and qualified for match play for the first time in three prior tries. He is believed to be the youngest player in Golf Association of Philadelphia to qualify for match play of the Amateur.
“I didn’t come in here with a cocky attitude, but I had a good amount of confidence,” said Galbreath of Huntingdon Valley, Pa. “I thought I could make it.”