Aug 06, 2015

NOTEBOOK: Identical Patterson performances for Hicks duo

MALVERN, Pa.- Alex and David Hicks had never played a competitive round of golf together before Friday. That changed when the brothers were paired in the same grouping, along with eventual winner Chris Crawford, for the final round of the 113th Joseph H. Patterson Cup.

Scorecards | History | Crawford crowned Patterson champion |

  Playing out of Wildwood Golf & Country Club, the Hicks brothers matched each other on both days of the final Major of the GAP schedule. They each carded even-par 70s on Thursday and 2-over 72s on Friday for a total of 142, which placed them both in eighth place overall.

  “It was really the first time, I think, that we’ve ever played in an event like this together,” said Alex, 22. “We ended up both shooting even par, and then ironically, we shot the same score today, 72. That was pretty funny.”

  After finding out they were paired for the final round during dinner Thursday night, the irony quickly became business as usual. It only took a couple of shots for the Hicks’ to shake those feelings.

  “At first it felt a little awkward, but then we just settled right in,” said David, 18. “We were just able to focus on the round and not really on who we were with.”

  Golf has been a relationship builder for Alex and David, who enjoy playing together almost daily. While most of those rounds are strictly for fun, they also went a long way in guiding the two today. 

  “We’ve played so much golf together in the past. I don’t know if it felt out of the ordinary,” said Alex. “We get along, but stick to ourselves a little bit. It made this round not too difficult to play together,” added David. 

  The similarities between the Cape May Courthouse, N.J. duo don’t stop at their Patterson scores. David will be following in older brother Alex’s footsteps in just two weeks, when he steps foot on The College of William and Mary’s campus as a freshman. Alex graduated from the university this spring, after spending four years as a member of the Tribe golf team. David will begin his own stint with the team this year. Alex will attempt to play professionally on various mini tours within the next couple of months.

  “There’s a fine line there between following in his footsteps and making my own path,” said David. “He’s paved a really good one, so being able to follow that while still achieving my own accomplishments has been a lot I’m trying to balance. It’s gone really well so far.”

  The Hicks’ will have less than 24 hours before they are playing competitively together again. On Saturday morning, Alex and David will be paired for the third round of Wildwood’s Men’s Club Championship, a four-round stroke play event. 

  “We’ve only got a couple of rounds of golf left together,” Alex said.

  “I think I’m 1 or 2 over for the tournament, he’s 1 or 2 under. I’m definitely looking forward to that,” added David.

McNeil cements Chester Valley’s back-nine record

  Scott McNeil is officially Chester Valley’s biggest back-nine fan. 

  McNeil, the winner of this year’s GAP Middle-Amateur Championship at St. Davids Golf Club, fired a back nine of 5-under 30 on Friday in the final round of the Patterson Cup. Those 30 strokes set an inward-nine record at Chester Valley, post-2008 renovation. His combined score on Chester Valley’s latter half for the week was 8-under 62, which included zero bogey blemishes.

  For comparison’s sake, the Patterson field’s back-nine average was 38.

  “On the first day, it could have been a 29 or 30 because I missed two [birdie putts] inside of five feet there,” said McNeil, a member of Bala Golf Club. “I think it’s more that the design fits my eyes, and I was more comfortable standing over the teed ball and getting into scoring position even if I didn’t have my best game.”

  Unfortunately for McNeil, the first half of Chester Valley wasn’t so kind to his game. He found himself 7 over thru the first nine holes of the Championship, and ended with two front-nine scores of 42 and 37, resulting in a 9-over 79.

  “After nine holes in the first round, I thought I was going to be at work today,” joked McNeil. “I hadn’t played golf in a week before that. I meant to play on Wednesday, but work got involved and I didn’t get a chance to see what was going on with my swing. I had zero knowledge of where the golf ball was going, so that was actually a good 42.”

  The drastic difference between the two nines was his own mentality, he said.

  “It was all mental for me. Everyone I’ve talked to likes the front nine better,” the 29 year old said. “In my head, it didn’t fit my eyes. On the back nine, I could see the shot and hit the shot.”

  McNeil finished alone in seventh place, giving him yet another Top-10 finish in a GAP Major at Chester Valley. He finished tied for 10th in the 2012 GAP Middle-Amateur Championship with rounds of 75 and 76 on the Malvern track.

Patterson’s youngest player gets first GAP Major taste

  Huntingdon Valley Country Club’s Conor McGrath, the youngest player in this year’s Patterson Cup field, was exposed to his first taste of GAP Major competition this week.

  The 15-year-old showed great promise at Chester Valley. After qualifying at Whitford Country Club, he then proceeded to survive the Patterson’s Day 1 cut thanks to a round of 75, which cleared the cut line by a stroke. 

  “This was my first GAP Major appearance and it was an absolutely incredible experience,” said McGrath, of Huntingdon Valley, Pa. “I played with some great people and some really phenomenal golfers. Just knowing that I’m the youngest, I feel accomplished, having qualified and then making the cut.” 

  McGrath shook off some early nerves with some help from a friend.

  “I was pretty nervous on the first tee, especially with everyone watching. My caddie, Mike, really helped me keep my head in it. When I made bogey, he’d help me come back with a birdie. He got me some confidence out there and helped me make some great reads.”

  The rising sophomore at The Academy of the New Church compiled a round of 77 on Friday that gave him a two-round total of 152. He finished tied for 53rd.

  McGrath’s next stop after the Patterson? One of the most-sought out golf tracks in the world. 

  “I’m going to take a couple weeks off from tournaments,” McGrath said. “We’re headed out to Pebble Beach on a family vacation to play. I can’t wait.” 

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.

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