July 18, 2018
WAYNE, Pa. — For a first-time participant in a Golf Association of Philadelphia Major, Cole Berger was thrown into the fire immediately.
In the first round, the Lafayette College rising sophomore was paired with four-time Major champion Jeff Osberg of Huntingdon Valley Country Club and 2017 Patterson Cup champion Peter Bradbeer of Merion Golf Club, whom Berger happens to know quite well.
Berger and Bradbeer, who is a rising junior at Bucknell University, have shared the fairways since they can remember. Longtime rivals in high school when Berger was at the Westtown School and Bradbeer was at Friend Central, the two are now Patriot League rivals.
“Playing with Jeff and Peter was awesome,” said Berger, of White Manor Country Club. “Jeff is the man and playing with him shows you what kind of player it takes to win out here. He hits the ball a long way. I’m definitely going to remember what this experience was like. Peter and I have played a lot together. So I was comfortable with the pairing and had a good time.”
Berger punched his ticket into the 114th #GAPOpen at St. Davids Golf Club as a result of a 69 at a GAP Open qualifier at Berkshire Country Club.
“Honestly, it’s the best being able the play in the Philadelphia Open being from the Philadelphia area,” said Berger. “Playing in this kind of tournament means the world to me. I know a lot of people in the area that could get me onto courses like this but I just haven’t yet.”
After being even par through 14 holes and in a solid spot to advance to Round Two, Berger limped in, playing the last four holes in 6 over to shoot 76. Disappointing but not discouraging. The cut line stopped at 73.
“I was feeling very good coming into the week,” said Berger. “I just had a terrible finishing stretch. But you learn from it and you move on. My swing wasn’t with me as much as I would have liked it to be.”
This isn’t the last you’ll see of Berger. He also qualified for the Pennsylvania Amateur at Sunnehanna Country Club and the Pennsylvania Open at Lancaster Country Club. He grinned at the prospect of getting the opportunity to continue to prove himself.
“The last couple of summers I was worried about shooting what I needed to get me into college,” said Berger, 19, of Malvern, Pa. “Now the expectations of my game are much higher. I lost a little focus out there today, which I’ll be mad about for awhile. I feel good about golf right now and my capabilities to play well.”
Teenager Mulrooney makes quick impression
Being the youngest player in the field didn’t intimidate Alex Mulrooney in the slightest.
His GAP Major debut had its peaks and valleys but the soon-to-be sophomore at Concord High School in Wilmington, Del. got in the house with an even-par 70 in the first round of the Open Championship.
“It’s been a lot of fun so far,” said Mulrooney, 15, of DuPont Country Club. “There are so many good players in this area, so it feels really good to be able to come out here and test yourself against the best competition that the area has to offer.
“I was feeling pretty good about today. My warmup was solid and I had a good mindset heading into the round. I didn’t have a lot of expectations today. I just wanted to go out there and see what would happen. It’s my first tournament of this scale, so it feels good to get off to a solid start.”
His mother Debra served as his caddie, his psychologist and his chauffeur. She did well Wednesday.
“It was good having my mom on the bag for me,” said Mulrooney, of Wilmington, Del. “She does a really good job of helping me stay calm out there. She doesn’t get too invested in the golf but she is a real asset when it comes to my attitude. It was nice to have someone push my cart around.”
Throughout the round, Mulrooney was hovering around even par and 1 under, thanks to a good driver. His putter came through clutch on No. 18 (par 4, 394 yards) by converting a 10-footer to close out his round the way he started it, with a birdie.
“I am going to get some good rest tonight in preparation for tomorrow,” said Mulrooney. “I am probably going to work on my putting considering I missed a few putts out there today with some missed eight-footers. Although I am young, I have played in a decent amount of tournaments so I don’t feel different than I would if I hadn’t competed in tournaments before. I’m looking forward to tomorrow and seeing how I hold up on this stage.”
1963 Open revisited
The Golf Association of Philadelphia has uncovered some never-before recognized details in regards to this week’s host of the GAP Open.
The organization was recently made aware that the 114th playing of the #GAPOpen is actually the second – not first – time the club has hosted an Open Championship.
On Aug. 12, 1963, the Open was played across two golf courses – Aronimink Golf Club and St. Davids. The event was held in the original format of one day, 36 holes, which was modified to two days for last year’s championship at Philadelphia Country Club.
Three players, Albert Besselink of Philmont Country Club, Sam Penecale of Whitemarsh Valley Country Club and Harvey Smith of Oak Terrace Country Club, were tied for the lead at 144 after 36 holes. An 18-hole playoff at Aronimink was needed 10 days later.
Besselink emerged victorious on that deciding day. The “big blonde belter” holed out from a greenside bunker on Aronimink’s finishing hole to claim his first of two Open title. He fired nines of 35-35, good enough for an even-par 70. Penecale finished with a 4-over 74, while Smith was in for 5-over 75.
Besselink took the crown and $500 first-place prize.
Philadelphia Section PGA Historian Pete Trenham, Sr., a former professional who spent 29 years in the role at this week’s host club, revealed this information to the Association. Trenham played in the Open that year at St. Davids.
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 260 Member Clubs and 75,000 individual members are spread across parts of Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware and Maryland. 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.