July 30, 2018
HADDONFIELD, N.J. — Once David Blichar heard his navigation system recite the phrase, “Welcome to New Jersey,” a comforting memory popped into his mind.
| Scoring portal | Photo gallery | Senior POY standings | Super-Senior POY standings |
“I qualified for the U.S. Amateur at Harker’s Hollow (Golf Club in Phillipsburg, N.J.). I was thinking, ‘Maybe there’s some karma in New Jersey,’” Blichar, of Allentown, Pa., said. “It was kind of funny that I thought of that. Hopefully it works out that way.”
An invitation to his second national championship suggests it worked out Monday. Blichar carded a 1-under-par 71 to earn medalist honors in a U.S. Senior Amateur Qualifier administered by the Golf Association of Philadelphia at Tavistock Country Club (par 72, 6,781 yards). Edward Armagost of Jupiter, Fla., James Dunne of New York, N.Y. and David West of Oxford, Pa. also advanced.
The U.S. Senior Amateur will take place Aug. 25-30 at Eugene Country Club in Eugene, Ore.
Blichar, who will celebrate his 55th birthday next week, relied on crisp, consistent ball-striking to craft the day’s lone subpar score. He only missed two fairways — a statistic that cultivated 16 greens in regulation.
“I drove the ball great. I made a really good up-and-down [for par] on No. 6 and a good bogey on No. 14,” Blichar said. “I was very steady. It was a solid round.”
On the aforementioned No. 6 (par 4, 428 yards), Blichar landed his approach some 70 feet below the hole location. He rolled the ensuing birdie putt 15 feet by and made the comebacker. Liken the conversion to glue on a clippings collage.
“That just kept me going. At that point, I was still even par,” Blichar, an Olde Homestead Golf Club member, said.
He maintained that momentum with a birdie on the next hole (par 4, 372 yards), knocking a sand wedge 102 yards to eight feet. That ‘good bogey’ also kept Blichar’s qualifying train on track. He flared a drive right, which forced a pitch-out. Blichar then knocked a 9-iron 120 yards to 20 feet and two putted. Following the day’s theme, a birdie followed a critical juncture. On the par 5, 542-yard 15th hole, Blichar used a driver-5-wood combination to produce a flip wedge from 75 yards. He then executed a 10-footer.
A pair of two-putts on Tavistock testers ensured a passing grade. Blichar buried a four-footer for par on No. 16 (par 3, 182 yards) after rolling a 45-footer onto the green’s back shelf. He powered a hybrid 190 yards to 17 feet right of the No. 18 (par 4, 433 yards) flagstick. Blichar’s birdie attempt slid low but strayed from the danger zone.
Blichar’s assembled quite the competitive golf season thus far. He won the Philadelphia Publinks GA Better-Ball Championship alongside Jason Wilson. He also captured the Lehigh Valley Golf Association’s Senior Amateur Medal Play Championship and Inter-Club Championship, respectively. Of note, Blichar is a member of the Lehigh Valley Golf Hall of Fame member.
The upcoming birthday may bring more gifts, too.
“Now that I’m turning 55, I’m going to start playing in a lot more GAP and [Pennsylvania Golf Association] events,” Blichar, an insurance underwriter, said. “I was in no man’s land before. I didn’t want to play against the kids, so I needed to wait until I was 55. And that’s the only good thing about turning 55.”
Armagost, a caddie at Pine Valley Golf Club for the last seven seasons, is feeling good about his age (55) after making good on his first U.S. Senior Amateur qualifying attempt. He carded an even-par 72 Monday. Starting on the back nine, Armagost, who previously participated in two U.S. Amateur Championships (1982-83) and a U.S. Open (1995), birdied No. 9 (par 4, 352 yards) to ever-so-slightly ease his leaderboard viewing down the stretch. He hit a sand wedge 93 yards into kick-in range.
“I haven’t done anything in 12 years. It’s fun to get the juices going, so to speak,” Armagost said. “I worked three years on the PGA TOUR for a buddy of mine (Mark Calcavecchia). He said, ‘You’re going to hate golf,’ and I did. Then I was working at Seminole (Golf Club) down in Jupiter and I just stopped playing.”
Like Armagost, Dunne is also connected to Pine Valley. He is a member who spent the weekend there competing in the club’s Father & Son Championship alongside son Seamus. A stop at Tavistock fit the schedule. Plus, Dunne’s good friend and fellow University of Notre Dame alum William McGuinness is a member.
“We’ve known each other a long time. I played with his daughter (Mary) for a practice round. I improved on that practice round,” Dunne, 62, said. “I thought the golf course was beautiful. The greens were perfect. The pins were fair. It’s been a long [USGA qualifying] campaign. I’ve always wanted to play in one.”
Dunne’s golf story is heartfelt. Golf Channel aired a special featuring the Shinnecock Hills member during its U.S. Open coverage last month. More than words in this space and well worth a watch.
West, the 2015 GAP Senior Amateur runner-up, will make his fifth USGA Championship appearance (2001, 2004, 2008 and 2013 U.S. Mid-Amateur).
“It feels very good to get back there. It’s a feather in the cap,” West, 58, a Philadelphia Publinks GA member, said. “My game’s been sporadic this summer. It’s been spotty. This makes it less spotty. Getting into USGA events is always high on the priority list.”
Golf Association of Philadelphia
Founded in 1897, the Golf Association of Philadelphia (GAP) is the oldest regional or state golf association in the United States. It serves as the principal ruling body of amateur golf in its region. The Association’s 260 Full Member Clubs and 75,000 individual members are spread across Eastern Pennsylvania and parts of New Jersey and Delaware. 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.
|David Blichar, Allentown, Pa.||71|
|Edward Armagost, Jupiter, Fla.||72|
|James Dunne, New York, N.Y.||73|
|David West, Exton, Pa.||73|
|Alternates (in order)|
|*Byron Whitman, Reading, Pa.||74|
|Christopher Clauson, Philadelphia, Pa.||74|
|Failed to qualify|
|Joe Russo, Sewell, N.J.||75|
|Glenn Smeraglio, Newtown, Pa.||75|
|Thomas DiCinti, Horseheads, N.Y.||76|
|Brian Rothaus, Philadelphia, Pa.||76|
|Joseph Coulson, Coopersburg, Pa.||77|
|Doug Fedoryshyn, Malvern, Pa.||77|
|Thomas Hyland, Marlton, N.J.||77|
|Oscar Mestre, Berwyn, Pa.||77|
|Carlos Ochoa, Marlton, N.J.||77|
|Michael Vassil, Dalton, Pa.||77|
|Jim Williams, Orinda, Calif.||77|
|Richard Atcavage, Flourtown, Pa.||78|
|Bob Beck, Allentown, Pa.||78|
|Elias Chua, Wilmington, Del.||78|
|Brian Corbett, Clarks Summit, Pa.||78|
|Denis Darragh, Orefield, Pa.||78|
|Chuck Dowds, Glenside, Pa.||78|
|William McGuinness, Haddonfield, N.J.||78|
|Andrew Sterge, Wayne, Pa.||78|
|Ray Thompson, Drexel Hill, Pa.||78|
|Bob Arthur, Marlton, N.J.||79|
|Robin McCool, Bethlehem, Pa.||79|
|John Nottage, Warminster, Pa.||79|
|Gregory Day, Fort Washington, Pa.||80|
|Michael Gregor, Ambler, Pa.||80|
|Mike Owsik, Bryn Mawr, Pa.||80|
|Jim Perry, Santa Barbara, Calif.||80|
|Joseph Roeder, Marlton, N.J.||80|
|John Landis, Peachtree City, Ga.||81|
|Robert Dietrich, Oxford, Pa.||82|
|Michael Fagan, Conshohocken, Pa.||82|
|Jim Gavaghan, Newtown, Pa.||82|
|Thomas Krug, Glenmoore, Pa.||82|
|Matthew Manfred, Horsham, Pa.||82|
|Michael Anderson, Horsham, Pa.||83|
|Marlin Detweiler, Akron, Pa.||83|
|Frank Polizzi, Chicago, Ill.||83|
|Paul Berg, Springfield, Pa.||84|
|Frank Corrado, Washington Crossing, Pa.||84|
|Thomas Humphrey, Wilmington, Del.||84|
|Kurt Paseka, Bayside, N.Y.||84|
|James Witt, Doylestown, Pa.||84|
|Joseph Cordaro, Pittsburgh, Pa.||85|
|John Crane, Staten Island, N.Y.||85|
|Thomas Mallouk, Doylestown, Pa.||85|
|Mark Ellinger, Chester Springs, Pa.||86|
|Joseph Morganti, Havertown, Pa.||86|
|James Prendergast, Limerick, Pa.||86|
|Andrew Lykon, Harleysville, Pa.||87|
|Charles McDowell, Wilmington, Del.||87|
|William Lynch, Sea Girt, N.J.||88|
|Bennett Meyer, Philadelphia, Pa.||88|
|Bob Walsh, Jr., Philadelphia, Pa.||88|
|Robert Falls, West Chester, Pa.||91|
|Al Sala, Staten Island, N.Y.||94|
|Rene Bosne, New York, N.Y.||NS|
|Christopher Scott, Summit, N.J.||NS|
|Donald Ashley, Haverford, Pa.||WD|
|Robert Baynard, New York, N.Y.||WD|
|George Hefferan, Califon, N.J.||WD|
|Arthur Kania, Haverford, Pa.||WD|
|John Manfredi, Margate City, N.J.||WD|
|Harold Schweitzer, West Chester, Pa.||WD|
|Christopher Scott, Summit, N.J.||WD|
|Bruce Stewart, Morton, Pa.||WD|
|Vince Yost, Harleysville, Pa.||WD|
|* — determined in playoff|
|NS — no show; WD — withdrawal|