HAVERTOWN, Pa. — During a routine bike ride, Janet Garrity stopped at Llanerch Country Club to watch a U.S. Mid-Amateur Qualifier administered by the Golf Association of Philadelphia. After all, the field featured 16 members of her home club. The golf course, on full display, didn’t disappoint, either. | Scorecards | Photo gallery | Mattare, McDermott share medalist honors |
Amid brutal heat, Llanerch proved formidable in the national spotlight, yielding a field scoring average of 79.8 by day’s end.
“I’m a very proud member of Llanerch. I think in GAP events it always holds its’ own,” Brian McDermott, who grew up at the club, said. “It was good to see the course play to its’ teeth for the most part. There were definitely some tees that haven’t been used a lot. I think this is pretty much as hard as it can get here.”
“Once you got out there, the harder holes were downwind, so you had a lot of shorter clubs than I originally planned,” Stephen Seiden, a Llanerch member of seven years, added. “It was a very fair test of golf. I was glad to see we played all of the tees back. Playing here all of the time, you know the holes that are going to give up birdies and the holes that aren’t. When you looked at the scores this morning, you saw a lot of birdies on the holes that usually don’t. So then you need to re-evaluate how you’re going to play those holes. It played a little differently than we’re used to and held up well.”
McDermott, 34, of Media, Pa., led the Llanerch contingent Monday. He carded a 1-over-par 72 to advance. Course knowledge played a factor in his performance. The jury is still out on a verdict.
“I think in some ways, it’s very helpful, and in ways, it can be a little alarming,” McDermott said. “It helps knowing some of the real jail spots and trying to play conservative and away from that. But at the same time, this isn’t a tournament where you’re going to qualify conservatively. The feel around the greens, the comfortable of being able to visualize shots that you’ve hit before — that definitely is an advantage.”
A 33 coming in allowed McDermott to sneak under the cut line. On No. 13 (par 4, 360 yards), he knocked a sand wedge 90 yards to five feet for birdie. An “unorthodox” start on the par 5, 539-yard 16th hole spearheaded more red. After sending a drive right, McDermott returned to the 16th hole, punched a pitching wedge 70 yards out of a fairway bunker and plunked a double-breaking 40-footer.
McDermott’s older brother Michael qualified for his eighth U.S. Mid-Amateur Monday. Brian made his qualifying debut a successful one. He isn’t sure why it’s taken so long to try in the first place.
“That’s a great question,” Brian said. “Being my age, I feel like I’ve had a lot of weddings in September the last handful of years. It’s good to finally be here and post a good round.”
Seiden, a semifinalist in the BMW Philadelphia Amateur Championship earlier this year, stood in contention until a bogey on the par 4, 317-yard 15th hole, a nemesis of late.
“I haven’t made a par on 15 in almost two months. I don’t understand why,” he said.
Although he failed to advance, Seiden felt thrilled to be one of many Llanerch loyalists on the course Monday.
“It’s great to see everyone come out and want to compete at the highest level,” Seiden said. “If you’ve never been to a USGA event before, this has got to be the highlight of your week. It’s a good five or six years where you’re going to get a qualifier on your home course with seven qualifying spots. That’s the way I was looking at it. It’s not nerve-wracking because it’s your home course. You feel comfortable.”
Based on his practice round at Llanerch yesterday, Dan Bernard didn’t like his qualifying prospects.
“I played God awful — really, really bad. I couldn’t do anything,” the Aronimink Golf Club member said. “I didn’t have any expectations coming into today. I figured I’d get here earlier than I usually do. I gave myself 35 minutes to warm up instead of five. It paid off. Today I didn’t hit my irons well, but I got it up-and-down in time. It saved me.”
Bernard, a newly minted middle-amateur at age 25, carded a 1-over-par 72 Monday to advance. Starting on the back nine, he turned in 2 under to jolt up the leaderboard. Bernard, a lean long hitter, drove the 15th green (par 4, 317 yards) and two-putted from 20 feet for birdie. He stopped an 8-iron at 10 feet on the par 3, 149-yard 17th for a 2.
“It was a grind,” Bernard, of Philadelphia, Pa., said. “I think I hit about eight greens today. I took advantage of some opportunities when I could. I was chipping it close all day. I didn’t have too many long par putts. I had a couple of tough lies coming in, which is where I made a few bogeys.”
Competitive golf is a rarity for Bernard these days. Work in commercial real estate means a full round here and there. However, he is surely making the most of his opportunities. Bernard posted a Top 10 finish in the GAP Middle-Amateur Championship presented by Callaway Golf earlier this season. He will face good friend Michael Davis in Aronimink’s club championship final on Saturday. Davis is currently competing in the U.S. Amateur at Oakland Hills Country Club.
“This is kind of a tune-up for that,” Bernard said. “I probably won’t play again until nine [holes] on Friday and then just go into it. I’ve been rolling with what I’ve got when I can.”
The king of the playoff passed the crown onto a clubmate.
Jeff Osberg, who won the Golf Association of Philadelphia Open Championship and Joseph H. Patterson Cup in extra time this year, bowed to Sean Seese in a sudden-death session for the final qualifying spot. Both hail from Huntingdon Valley Country Club.
“I’m very excited. Obviously, USGA events are hard to come by,” Seese, 33, of Rydal, Pa., said. “I’m bummed to beat Jeff. He’s not a guy you want to go against and obviously a friend. It’s a shame somebody has to lose.”
On the second playoff hole (No. 2, par 4, 433 yards), both Seese and Osberg found the fairway, with the latter 80 yards ahead. Seese hit an 8-iron 161 yards to 30 feet. Osberg, too, reached the green in regulation. With honors, Seese, despite a birdie miss on the low side, entered tap-in territory for 4. An Osberg three-putt from 12 feet assured his compatriot a ticket to Stonewall.
“Jeff’s got a name that’s tough to play against,” Seese said. “He’s a great player and a good friend. Maybe in a weird way it relaxed me, being out there with somebody that you know.”
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