WAYNE, Pa. – Brian Gillespie predicted players would make adjustments and card more red numbers in Round Two of the GAP Middle-Amateur Championship presented by Callaway Golf. The 12-time St. Davids club champion, however, couldn’t predict the 10-stroke improvement he himself made on Day Two.
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“I was glad to make the cut because I felt like I could have played better yesterday, especially being on my home course. I’m glad I got the opportunity to play again and prove that I can play well out here,” said Gillespie.
Gillespie carded a 9-over 79 yesterday to squeeze into Round Two of the championship. He fired a 1-under-par 69 on Thursday.
“I attribute it to a little bit of a swing fix. I was hitting a lot of bad iron shots, scrambling all day. I probably hit 14 or 15 greens today, I probably hit five yesterday,” said Gillespie. “I played really well, I had a lot of birdie putts, so it could have been much better, but I’m very happy with it.”
The 39 year old finished tied for ninth with a total of 148 (79-69).
“Before the event, I would have thought I would have had a little bit of a better chance than I gave myself. I hate to cheat myself out of tournaments so fast,” Gillespie said. “But, I guess overall, I’m pleased just because I feel like my golf game got better almost overnight.”
Gillespie’s swing and scorecard weren’t the only things that saw improvements overnight. St. Davids was not only a great host for the 32nd playing of the Middle-Amateur, but also a great benefactor.
“I’m thrilled that they had the event here, I really am. I’m really proud of the staff, the pro shop, the grounds crew. They did a great job,” said Gillespie, a member of St. Davis for 16 years. “It’s just nice to see us back having these events here and having all the guys out here playing.”
The last GAP Major at St. Davids took place in 2008, when the club served as one of the two sites for the Patterson Cup. Dating back even further, the 1966 BMW Philadelphia Amateur was also held at St. Davids.
“We’ve been off the map for a little while; I know we have the 2018 Philadelphia Open here, so I’m looking forward to that,” said Gillespie. “It’s great to see St. Davids back on the map.”
McDermott’s 69 sends field reminder of his prowess
Michael McDermott of Merion Golf Club reminded the rest of this year’s Middle-Amateur field that he is a four-time Mid.-Am. champion during today’s final round at St. Davids Golf Club. McDermott went low on Thursday, shooting a 1-under 69 to cement his name near the top of the completed leaderboard, a place he knows rather well.
The reminder came on No. 8 (par 5, 490 yards). After an ideal drive, McDermott was left with an 8-iron into the green, which he stuck to 15 feet. He rolled the putt in for a crucial eagle, which moved him to 1-under for the day and transformed McDermott into an instant threat to the on-course leaders at the time.
“Once that putt went in, it suddenly made me think, ‘Let’s try and make a few more.’ I ended the tournament right where I was there, but it changed my mentality a little bit to have an eagle and get back a couple of shots quickly,” said McDermott, who also won the 2008 and 2013 BMW Philadelphia Amateur Championship.
Michsel, 41, wasn’t the only McDermott to threaten the top of the leaderboard today. His younger brother, Brian, 33, carded a 1-over 71 in Round Two and finished tied for ninth. The middle McDermott child, Kevin, 38, failed to make the cut after he shot 81 in Round One.
“Brian was a couple groups ahead of me today, and he’s done really well in this event now. In fact, two years ago when I won at Fieldstone, he was beating me with four holes to play,” said the oldest McDermott brother. “He’s been a tough competitor in this tournament and I knew he was going to have a nice finish again today, Top 15 or so. I didn’t see much of him today but I’m always rooting for him.”
Next up for the five-time William Hyndman, III Player of the Year is the 116th BMW Philadelphia Amateur at Llanerch Country Club; a course that McDermott grew up playing.
“The Amateur is at Llanerch this year and I love the course. It’s a true test of golf. I’m excited to hopefully be prepared for that,” said McDermott, a resident of Bryn Mawr, Pa. “I’ll be there and I know Jeff Osberg has played there a lot, and he’s the defending champ. That’ll be exciting and I’m hoping for a good week there, too.”
GAP Executive Director has impressive Mid.-Am. showing
During a normal GAP tournament week, Mark Peterson serves as the Executive Director of the Golf Association of Philadelphia. This week, Peterson was featured in the penultimate group of the Middle-Amateur Championship.
“Last year was the first year since I was 12 that I haven’t played in a Major competitive event. As soon as the schedule came out this year, I knew I was going to try for the Mid.-Am. I was thrilled to play well yesterday and make the cut, even though I couldn’t close the deal today,” said Peterson, who finished tied for 28th after a 73 in Round One followed by a 79 in Round Two.
Peterson, of Philadelphia Cricket Club, is no stranger to high-level competition. Having been successful at the Junior golf level, he went on to play collegiately at Villanova University. In addition to his GAP role, he serves in the same capacity for the Pennsylvania Golf Association and J. Wood Platt Caddie Scholarship Trust. Peterson has also officiated several USGA Championships, including the 2013 U.S. Open at Merion Golf Club.
“The last time I’ve played in the Mid.-Am. was at Fieldstone in 2013. I made the cut, and then struggled on the second day, similar to today,” Peterson said. “Tournament golf is a different animal than playing golf with your buddies or even in our Team Matches. It was a great experience playing in the last few groups of a Major event like this. It exposes your flaws and it gives you an understanding of what you need to work on. It’s a different game.”
Peterson, who said his next GAP appearance will be “working and not playing the Philly Am.,” came away from the first GAP Major of the year with high praise for the host site.
“St. Davids is a great spot. It played much harder than it has in the past and scores reflected it. It’s a good test and they did a great job,” said Peterson. “Obviously, we had to thank Bill Higgins, our committee member, who helped us get this event here. Have to thank Dan Dressel and the greens committee who do a great job, and Bill Phillips and the staff here as well. They treated us well. It was like being on Tour.”
NOTES – Four players finished under par in Round Two compared to Scott McNeil’s lone sub-par score yesterday. The low round of the day, a 2-under-par 68, belonged to Jason Loehrs of Philadelphia Publinks GA… Next year’s championship site was announced during the trophy presentation. The 2016 GAP Middle-Amateur will take place at Manufacturers’ Golf & Country Club in Fort Washington, Pa.
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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 151 Member Clubs and 57,000 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.