NOTEBOOK: #GAPOpen Day Two - The Golf Association of Philadelphia

Jul 19, 2018


July 19, 2018

WAYNE, Pa. — Steve Dressel couldn’t have started any better.

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  After an opening round of 69, Dressel was 4 under through his first eight holes in the final round of the 114th #GAPOpen at St. Davids Golf Club (par 70, 6,500 yards).

He stuffed a 50-degree wedge 135 yards to 10 feet on No. 1 (par 4, 385 yards), got up-and-down for birdie on the drivable third (par 4, 286 yards), pured an 8-iron from 160 yards to two feet on No. 7 (par 4, 465 yards) and lasered a 5-iron 187 yards to 12 feet and two-putted on No. 8 (par 5, 490 yards).

“Fellow member Brian Gillespie texted me this morning and said it was a nice day out there for a 66,” said Dressel. “So that is what I had in my mind and that was having to shoot 64 or 65. There are a lot of good players out here so I expected someone to go low. I wanted to plug away and see what I could do.”

The top popped off his card with a chip-in eagle on No. 11 (par 5, 543 yards), moving him to 6 under for the day and 7 under total.

That progression propelled him two shots ahead of a group of three players that included professionals Brett Melton of Radley Run Country Club and Dave Quinn of Philmont Country Club as well as amateur Jeff Osberg of Huntingdon Valley Country Club, all at 5 under.

“Everything was working through my first eight holes,” said Dressel, 29, of Wayne, Pa. “After chipping in for eagle on No. 11, I said to myself to just hit it to the center of the greens and try to make pars. Golf is a funny game when you are trying to play protective golf. It is tougher even when you are on your home course where you think you know every break and angle. Pressure is a funny thing. You just try to keep calm and stay in the moment.”

Then Dressel’s putter stopped cooperating. A trio of three-putt bogeys on Nos. 12 (par 4, 452 yards) 13 (par 4, 420 yards) and 18 (par 4, 392 yards) and a three-putt par on No. 16 (par 5, 500 yards) ultimately left the home-club hopeful one shot out of a playoff.

Dressel was looking to become the latest player to win the #GAPOpen at his home club. Andrew Mason of Huntingdon Valley most recently did so in 2012.

“I didn’t putt like I knew the greens on the back nine,” said Dressel. “I let a few putts get away from me. I missed a few six-footers that I would like back. I had a great amount of support this week from the club. Their support is huge. I love these guys here. I spend a ton of time here out on the patio with the membership. Dean (Kandle) is a great pro. I wouldn’t change anything about the culture here.

“I didn’t have any added pressure on myself trying to win one for my home club. I try to play golf loose and not overanalyze because it is just a game. There are a lot more important things in life. I just put all of that in perspective when I go out there. I’m proud of the way I went out there and gave it a good run.”

Dressel’s game has progressed quite nicely since his college years at Elon University in North Carolina. He finished tied for second in the 2017 Middle-Amateur at Overbrook and registered a tied for fourth in this event.

He, along with Gillespie, qualified for the U.S. Four-Ball at the Jupiter Hills Club. Dressel also is a five-time St. Davids Club Champion (2008, 2015-18).

Although this isn’t the result Dressel longed for, he won’t be mailing it in anytime soon.

“If you would have told me that I would finish at 4 under I might not have taken that but I would have been pleased with it,” said Dressel. “There are no pictures in the scorecard but you remember everything about your round. It was at 20 or 21 when I started to turn the corner and figured out how to get it around if I haven’t been playing that well. I am happy about the week and the result and if I am in this position again, I can rely on this experience.”

Bethlehem’s Knoll continues GAP Open success

Playing in the penultimate pairing, Alex Knoll had a chance to put his stamp on Philadelphia golfing history.

The Jim Thorpe, Pa. native surged up the leaderboard with two quick birdies on Nos. 1 and 3 after rolling in a 15-footer on the first and two-putting for birdie after driving the third green.

“It’s always great to be in contention at a GAP event,” said Knoll. “St. Davids has a lot of holes that prefer a draw, and I like hitting my ball that way. The greens were a nice speed and not overly fast. You could hit them with confidence and not worry about them rolling a good distance by.”

Knoll posted his best finish in the GAP Open with a T6. He also a pair of Top 10s (2012 and 2017 at Pine Valley Golf Club and Philadelphia Country Club, respectively) to his credit.

“I’m quite pleased with my scores here this week. But I was disappointed in my par 5 play in this final round,” said Knoll. “This course gives you a tremendous opportunity to take advantage of the par 5s and I played them in 1 over. Overall, this tournament was 36 holes and I played well throughout and I have been doing well in the Philadelphia Section events also.”

Knoll, 33, is no stranger to the big stage. He most recently registered his best finish in the PGA Professional Championship at the Bayonet and Black Golf Courses in Seaside, Calif. back in June with a tie for 49th.

He fell four shots short of his first PGA Championship appearance.

The 10th year pro at Bethlehem also mentors young kids as a high school golf coach at Palmerton High School, which he is in his fourth year.

While playing tournament golf gets the blood pumping and the nerves going, coaching satisfies another passion of his.

Ace alert

Kevin Kramarski of Riverton Country Club aced No. 14 (par 3, 160 yards) with a 7-iron for his second career hole-in-one.

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.

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