KING OF PRUSSIA, Pa. – From an early age, Fieldstone Golf Club’s Ryan Rucinski got a taste of what being a great golfer could be like.
When he was a youngster, his family attended the 1998 Bell Atlantic Championship at Hartefeld National, where legendary amateur and Golf Association of Philadelphia Hall of Famer R. Jay Sigel claimed his fifth PGA TOUR Champions victory.
Immediately after the victory, Sigel reached for Rucinski in his stroller.
“It means a lot to me, being put in the same breath as guys like Jay Sigel and William Hyndman, III,” said Rucinski, 21, of Wilmington, Del. “It’s funny, because when I was 2 years old at Hartefeld, when Jay won the Champions event, he picked me up and carried me into the tent where he signed some memorabilia for me. I met him 15 years after the fact at Aronimink, and I see him occasionally. It’s cool to be able to make a comparison between Jay and I. It’s special.”
Rucinski claimed the 2018 Silver Cross Award with a score of 286 (1-over par), putting his name on the history pages with Sigel, who shares the most collective Silver Cross honors with Hyndman at six.
He carded rounds of 71 and 70 at Whitemarsh Valley Country Club and Green Valley Country Club in the qualifying rounds of the BMW Philadelphia Amateur Championship, and backed it up with rounds of 71 and 74 at Gulph Mills Golf Club in the Joseph H. Patterson Cup.
The Wilmington University rising senior held off a trio of chasers Thursday that included reigning Player of the Year Matt Mattare of Saucon Valley Country Club, RiverCrest Golf Club & Preserve’s Marty McGuckin and this week’s victor, Michael R. Brown, Jr. of Lu Lu Country Club.
“After Marty [McGuckin] didn’t make birdie on No. 18, then I thought that I had a pretty good chance to win the Silver Cross,” said Rucinski, a two-time Division II PING All-East Region selectee. “I didn’t expect Campbell [Wolf] to make bogey on No. 17 (par 3, 212 yards). I figured it would all even out in the end.”
McGuckin had the best chance to equal or take the late lead in the Silver Cross standings, but a three-putt bogey on No. 16 (par 4, 396 yards) forced him into a must-make birdie situation on No. 18 (par 5, 460 yards) to tie Rucinski. McGuckin hit his approach shot over the green, leaving an impossible chip, which he caressed to 20 feet. His putt just missed on the left edge.
Wolf needed an albatross on No. 18 to equal Rucinski but made a birdie.
“I have had a good summer so far,” said Rucinski. “It would have been nice to win the Patterson Cup considering I have been playing well. It was interesting finishing my last nine knowing that if I wasn’t in a position to win the Patterson Cup, I still had to keep it together for the Silver Cross. I had to remind myself that there was still something to play for. I held on.”
Rookie DeLuca shines in first #PatCup
Greg DeLuca wasted no time in getting accustomed to the Patterson Cup.
The soon-to-be Villanova University freshman made a quick impression in his first appearance by closing with a final-round 68 at Gulph Mills (par 71, 6,590 yards).
The 18-year-old from Langhorne, Pa. finished in a tie for eighth in his maiden attempt to win the final Major on the GAP circuit.
Although he hasn’t been posting the best scores this summer, DeLuca’s motivation came from his hopes for 2019.
“I wanted to get all of the shots back I lost yesterday,” said DeLuca. “I had a good chance on No. 18 to do just that, but I hit it just over the green, which leaves an impossible chip that you can’t stop. My goal this week for certain was to get into the Top 10 and to have a chance to win. But I shot myself out of it after the first round. Today I proved that I can play on this stage and that I belong.”
The highlight of the day for DeLuca was on No. 12 (par 5, 518 yards), where he made a birdie after hitting a greenside bunker shot to 11 feet above the hole. He then converted the slick downhill left-to-right slider to move to 3 under.
Being the youngest of five brothers pushes DeLuca to be better. His other brothers are Nick, 29, Chris, 27, James, 25, and Andrew, 23. They constantly trash talk him like most siblings do, and DeLuca said they have made him tougher.
“One of my brothers ended up with 160 GAP Player of the Year points one year so I am trying to beat him,” said DeLuca. “That was definitely in the back of my mind all day. I couldn’t let him beat me. They have all had their Junior careers and now it is my turn.
“I feel more pressure playing golf with my brothers. You don’t want to lose to those guys because you won’t hear the end of it. Out here you can get by with a bad round, but at home, I won’t. They are really competitive and all they are trying to do is help me get better, which has really helped over the years.”
Now, DeLuca is looking to walk-on to the Villanova men’s golf team, where his next challenge awaits.
“The Villanova coach Jim Wilkes actively recruits,” said DeLuca. “He said I might have to prove myself by playing on the club team for a while. If I keep playing like this, it’ll earn me a spot. Today definitely helped.”
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.