HAVERTOWN, Pa. – The final nine spots for tomorrow’s Round of 32 match play round were decided in a 13-for-9 playoff at Llanerch Country Club.
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On No. 1 (par 4, 400 yards), the first playoff hole, Brian Dempster of Mercer Oaks Golf Course advanced thanks to jarring a sloping right-to-left birdie putt for the lone red number during the extra-hole period.
Brian Gillespie of St. Davids Golf Club; Zachary Herr of Jericho National Golf Club; Scott McNeil of Bala Golf Club; John Samaha of Old York Road Country Club; Chris Storck of LedgeRock Golf Club and Conrad Von Borsig of Philadelphia Cricket Club also advanced after making pars on the first hole.
“I was thinking as I was walking up the fairway how this was my third or fourth time in a playoff to get into match play,” said a relieved Gillespie, 40, of Newton Square, Pa., while walking off the first green. “I’m so happy because this is my favorite tournament of the year. I feel fantastic right now.”
James Kania, Jr. of Overbrook Golf Club was the first casualty after putting his tee shot in a creek on No. 1, ultimately leading to a double bogey.
A 5-for-2 playoff continued on par 4, 410-yard second hole, where Evan Galbreath of Philmont Country Club and Ben Cooley of Huntingdon Valley Country Club both advanced with pars.
Joe Kerrigan, Jr., of Llanerch Country Club, David Liotta of Whitemarsh Valley Country Club and Joshua Isler of Chester Valley Golf Club all made bogey or worse on the hole, leading to the final three eliminations.
Cooley, of Rydal, Pa., will meet up with a good friend in the first round of match play, who also happens to be the No. 1 seed.
“I’ve got Jeff Osberg in the first round and we are both out of Huntingdon Valley, so I play with him a lot. I know his game and I will just have to stick with him and not get flustered when he sticks it close,” said Cooley, a recent University of Pennsylvania graduate.
After playing 38 holes in order to sneak into tomorrow’s match play, Cooley still has some big plans for the rest of his night.
“My parents are out of town so I need to watch my dogs,” said the 22-year-old. “Maybe I’ll try and watch as much as the NBA Finals as I can.”
Chris Lange, Jr. gets redemption and match-play opportunity
In the 2014 BMW Philadelphia Amateur Championship, Chris Lange Jr. looked ready to compete in match play approaching the 15th tee box at Overbrook, his home track. Then, after bogeying the final four holes, and losing in an eventual playoff, Lange Jr. was denied that opportunity.
“I played 32 good holes that day, but my last four were just not good,” said the 31 year old. “It left a bad taste in my mouth.”
After going 3 over through his first three holes at Llanerch, Lange Jr. used last year’s disgust to fuel his play for the rest of Day One. The Newtown Square, Pa. resident finished his 36 holes at 1 over, qualifying for Day Two as the No. 6 seed. He will play Zachary Herr of Jericho National Golf Club at 8:15 a.m. on Wednesday morning.
“I really fought back, made a bunch of birdies on the back nine (Lange started his second round on the 10th hole at Rolling Green Golf Club),” Lange, Jr. said. “Adversity is going to happen. During 36 holes of golf, bad stuff is going to happen.”
Lange, Jr. looked to redeem himself after last year’s Amateur. He moves to the Match Play portion for the first time since 2010 at Saucon Valley Country Club (Old). Lange, Jr. fell to Ryan McCarty of Little Mill Country Club 1-down in that event.
“I’ve been hitting it good all year, but my putting has been horrendous,” Lange, Jr. said. “It was great to finally see putts go in in competition.” He credited a seven-hour putting session on Saturday, including a lesson with Overbrook’s professional Eric Kennedy. “I owe a lot of it to some of the tips he gave me.”
Lange Jr. is the son of Chris Lange, three-time Philadelphia Amateur Championship winner. His father is the last person to win consecutive BMW Philadelphia Amateur titles (1993-94). Lange, Sr. was not in attendance on Tuesday due to a speaking engagement.
Although his father was not a spectator on Day 1, Lange, Jr. hopes he can play far into match play so his father can be there to follow the action, and maybe add another Lange to the J. Wood Platt Trophy.
“It would be cool if match play went well. If Dad was in town, that would be a cool thing for him to come and watch everything.”
Recounting Llanerch’s last Philadelphia Amateur Championship
Llanerch Country Club in Havertown, Pa. has hosted the BMW Philadelphia Amateur Championship three previous times before this year’s 115th installment. The most recent event was held on June 15-17 & 20, 1998, when Andy Thompson of Overbrook Golf Club just edged Michael Domenick of Phoenixville Country Club, 2&1, en route to his second J. Wood Platt Trophy.
Just days before the Major, the then-49-year-old Thompson, a marketing executive, qualified for match play with a 141 over 36 holes. On Day One of match play, Thompson defeated Michael Dougherty of Huntingdon Valley Country Club 1-up. Later that day, Thompson ousted fellow Overbrook member Jim Kania after 19 holes.
On Day Two of match play, Thompson again won 1-up, this time over Darrell Clayton. His afternoon match saw Thompson facing 20-year-old Aaron Friedman, a University of Arizona junior. Thompson’s biggest lead came after he jarred a birdie putt on No. 13 to go 3-up.
However, Freidman would lower the deficit to just one heading into the par 3, 158-yard 17th hole. Both players saw their balls miss the green off the tee, where Thompson was just off the front edge and Friedman landed on the back fringe. Thompson drained his 45-foot birdie putt, and when Friedman failed to hole out, the match went to Thompson, 2&1.
The Final consisted of a match between Thompson and Phoenixville Country Club’s Michael Domenick. Domenick, 43, had started seriously playing the game at the age of 30, while Thompson began playing at the age of 8. Thompson would play golf at Florida State University in the late-1960s, before a three-year stint on the PGA Tour in the 1970s.
After their morning round, the match was close heading into the late stages of the afternoon. At the 14th hole, with a two-stroke lead, Thompson holed a 65-foot chip for birdie to go 3-up. Thompson would win the title, 2&1, which also helped propel him to the 1998 Silver Cross Award with a score of 289.
While Andy Thompson was not on the course this week Llanerch, his brother Ray was in the field today. The younger Thompson shot rounds of 78 at Rolling Green and 77 at Llanerch respectively, missing the cut for match play by five shots.
NOTES—There was a 27-minute weather delay at Rolling Green Golf Club, from 1:35 p.m. to 2:02 p.m. … There were six Amateur champions in the field on Tuesday: Jeff Osberg (2014), Michael McDermott (2013, 2008), Michael Hyland (2011, 2000), Conrad Von Borsig (2009), Brian Gillespie (2001), Raymond Thompson (1972) … Osberg, tomorrow’s No. 1 seed, was low former-champ on Tuesday after firing consecutive rounds of 68 … Last Llanerch member to win the Amateur Championship was Billy Stewart in 2002, who beat John Robinson of Commonwealth National Golf Club, 8&7, at Riverton Country Club.