Aug 27, 2013

Skyllas, Whitby head U.S. Mid-Amateur Qualifier at Doylestown

  DOYLESTOWN, Pa. — Grant Skyllas and Jay Whitby sit on opposite sides of the 2013 tournament spectrum. Skyllas considered his golf season “awful” to this point. Whitby, however, beams on a successful streak, having captured the Delaware State Golf Association’s Open Championship and runner-up honors in its Amateur.

  Both players met in the medalist chair Tuesday. Skyllas and Whitby carded respective 2-under-par 70s to top a U.S. Mid-Amateur Championship Qualifier administered by the Golf Association of Philadelphia at Doylestown Country Club (par 72, 6,589 yards). The two led a field of 133 players hoping to grab one of seven available qualifying positions.

  Philadelphia Cricket Club’s Ryan Gelrod, Merion Golf Club’s Michael McDermott, Overbrook Golf Club’s Brad McFadden, Kennett Square Golf & Country Club’s Daniel Rudershausen and Philadelphia Country Club’s P. Chet Walsh also advanced. The U.S. Mid-Amateur Championship will take place Oct. 5-10 at the Country Club of Birmingham in Birmingham, Ala.

   “To tell you the truth, I haven’t been playing well all year, so I was just really relaxed today,” Skyllas, 27, of Wyomissing, Pa., said. “I made three birdies in the first five holes, so that kind of got me more relaxed. I hit maybe two bad shots today.”

  Starting on No. 10, Skyllas kept his nerves in recession with a birdie on No. 11 (par 4, 425 yards). He thrashed a 9-iron 135 yards to 30 feet above a front hole location and watched his golf ball slide down the slope to four feet. He stopped a 6-iron at eight feet on the par 3, 193-yard 13th hole. A punch 9-iron from 140 yards to 20 feet on No. 15 (par 4, 430 yards) put Skyllas at 3 under.

  His qualifying grip loosened a bit with bogeys on three of his next 10 holes. Skyllas regained it by ending with back-to-back birdies. His drive on the par 4, 298-yard No. 8 crashed into tree limbs but dropped straight down, giving Skyllas a clear look at the flagstick. He executed a 20-yard flop shot to 15 feet. Skyllas missed the No. 9 (par 5, 531 yards) green left with a 5-iron from 200 yards, but stopped another solid flop at four feet.

   “I knew if I got it to at least 1 under, I’d be in contention,” he said.

  Skyllas returned to the competitive circuit a year ago after dedicating the previous three to business. He currently owns and manages a McDonald’s location in Berks County.

  Whitby, too, finished in a flurry to share the medalist chair. He powered a drive into the front bunker on No. 8, exploded out to six feet and converted the birdie try. Whitby goosed a 3-iron 230 yards into a wedge-friendly area on No. 9 and chipped to four feet for 4.

   “I’ve been playing really well lately,” Whitby, 26, of Wyoming, Del., said. “I’ve been shooting a lot of big numbers under par. I just kind of held it together today. I didn’t make a lot of putts, but I hit the ball well.”

  The closing red curtain shielded a pair of back-to-back bogeys that could’ve derailed his qualifying train entirely. Whitby flew the No.3 (par 4, 410 yards) green with an 8-iron from 161 yards and failed to get up-and-down. He didn’t reach the green on the significantly uphill No. 4 (par 4, 332 yards) with a 9-iron from 133 yards.

  Whitby turned in 2 under. He birdied the par 5, 499-yard 14th hole after sending a 105-yard wedge into kick-in territory. Following a gimme 3 on No. 16 (par 4, 379 yards), Whitby hammered a 6-iron from 198 yards and two-putted for birdie on the par 5, 519-yard 18th hole.

  Whitby spent two years on the mini-tour before leaving professional golf, citing burnout. He now works at his father’s car dealership, and the game’s becoming more fun.

   “I’m going out there with no expectations. For some reason, I’m hitting it the best I’ve ever hit it in my life,” Whitby, a Wild Quail Golf & Country Club member, said. “I’ve been playing well and I have confidence. That’s all there is to it.”

  Like Skyllas and Whitby, a birdie-birdie finish allowed McDermott to post red. He sent a 7-iron into the right rough on the par 3, 175-yard 17th hole — 35 feet right of his intended target. An ensuing uphill chip broke a foot right-to-left and dropped in the jar. With a flyer lie on No. 18 (par 5, 519 yards), McDermott smashed a 7-iron 200 yards to 20 feet above the hole location and two-putted.

   “It never looked like 1 under for me,” McDermott, 38, of Bryn Mawr, Pa., said. “I was 2 over at the turn and 1 over on the 17th tee. For me, it was a couple of bad shots and missed short putts. But I know that on a course with four par 5s, there’s always time to come back. I fought pretty hard.”

  McDermott will now compete in his sixth U.S. Mid-Amateur Championship. He qualified in four consecutive years from 2001-04 and also in 2007. McDermott is in the midst of a sensational season. He captured the Golf Association of Philadelphia’s Middle-Amateur and Amateur Championships and finished tied for third in its Open Championship.

   “Golf was pretty easy for parts of the summer when you have the winning touch, but the Patterson (Cup, the Association’s stroke play championship) and today were pretty hard,” McDermott said.   Rudershausen is a relative newcomer to the competitive circuit. He auditioned for the GAP Middle-Amateur and Amateur Championships earlier this season, missing the cut at both.

   “And I got Lyme disease two months ago on top of it, so it’s been a tough year,” Rudershausen, 27, of Kennett Square, Pa., said. “After my first two results, I thought this would be a huge long shot. I’m pretty excited. I’ve been playing some good golf recently, and today I just kept it up. I feel great about it. I’ve worked really hard on my game the past two years. My son is 15 months old now, and this will be a cool thing to tell him that I did someday.”

  Birdies on Nos. 9 and 11 (par 4, 425 yards) propelled Rudershausen into contention. He powered a 5-wood 235 yards to 15 feet on the first, a 7-iron 170 yards to a foot on the latter. He sunk a downhill, left-to-right breaking 20-footer for 3 on the par 4, 430-yard 15th hole to gain wiggle room coming in.

  Both Gelrod and Walsh birdied No. 9, their final hole, to secure qualifying status. Standing 240 yards from the flagstick, Gelrod, consciously playing it safe, laid up to 82 yards and knocked a wedge to 20 feet.

  “I played with (Michael) McDermott years ago in a [U.S.] Mid-Am. qualifier, and he made a 30-footer for birdie on the last hole that he needed to get in. That’s all I was thinking of over the putt,” Gelrod, 41, of Ambler, Pa., said.

  Double bogeys down the stretch prevented Gelrod from punching his ticket in years past. He shook off the demons Tuesday.

   “This one has been a longtime bugaboo for me,” he said. “I’ve been in playoffs or one back five times. Obviously, anytime you get to play in a national championship is a great thing. It’s something that’s been a goal of mine for a long time. It’s a great redemption.”

  As for Walsh’s theatrics, he cranked a 54-degree wedge 123 yards to the green’s front edge. His golf ball chased toward the cup and halted at nine feet. Walsh registered seven birdies despite only netting eight greens in regulation.

   “It was a rollercoaster,” Walsh, 48, of Wayne, Pa., said. “I kind of felt like I played defensive all day. I haven’t practiced at all. I really didn’t have confidence in my short game. I thought I was underprepared.”

  Walsh will compete in his third U.S. Mid-Amateur and first since 2007. Overall, he’s qualified for nine USGA events.

   “I’m going in with low expectations,” he said. “Maybe I’ll finally find a way to make match play.”

  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 143 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.

Name, city Scores
Grant Skyllas, Wyomissing, PA 70
Jay Whitby, Wyoming, DE 70
Michael McDermott, Bryn Mawr, PA 71
P. Chet Walsh, Wayne, PA 71
Daniel Rudershausen, Kennett Square, PA 71
Ryan Gelrod, Ambler, PA 71
*Brad McFadden, Bryn Mawr, PA 72
Alternates (in order)
*George Marucci, Jr., Villanova, PA 72
*Bill Jeremiah, West Grove, PA 73
Failed to qualify
*Scott McLaughlin, Hatboro, PA 73
*Rob Butler, Atlanta, GA 73
*Brian Gillespie, Wayne, PA 73
Dave Liotta, West Chester, PA 74
Joe April, Philadelphia, PA 74
Glenn Smeraglio, Newtown, PA 74
Robert Savarese, Lafayette Hill, PA 74
Keith Matt, Lower Gwynedd, PA 74
Brett Williams, Cockeysville, MD 75
Stephen Hudacek, Scranton, PA 75
Scott Storck, Philadelphia, PA 75
Jim Rattigan, Orwigsburg, PA 75
Dan Arison, Norristown, PA 75
Thomas Timby, Doylestown, PA 75
Michael Rogers, Bryn Mawr, PA 75
Marc Mandel, Plymouth Meeting, PA 75
Benjamin Smith, Voorhees, NJ 75
Ryan Chin, New York, NY 75
Patrick O’Brien, Wayne, PA 76
Kevin Silvestri, Marlboro, NJ 76
Kevin Cahill, Wayne, PA 76
James Arbes, Springfield, NJ 76
Christopher Clauson, Philadelphia, PA 76
Sean Semenetz, Philadelphia, PA 76
Pete Moran, Chester Springs, PA 76
Robert Beck, Allentown, PA 76
James White, San Angelo, TX 77
Geoffrey Cooper, Philadelphia, PA 77
Larry Lis, Avella, PA 77
Rob Good, Wayne, PA 77
Dan Feeney, Ardmore, PA 77
Jack Wallace, Norristown, PA 77
Rand Mendez, Wilmington, DE 77
Matthew Finger, Woolwich Twp, NJ 77
Peter Barron, III, Mays Landing, NJ 77
Joe Kerrigan, Ardmore, PA 77
Christopher Binder, Collingswood, NJ 77
Tim Anderson, Wilkes Barre, PA 77
Michael Beran, Phoenixville, PA 77
Joe Viechnicki, Bethlehem, PA 77
John Nottage, Warminster, PA 78
George Petrellis, North Wales, PA 78
Lance Oberparleiter, Blackwood, NJ 78
Mark Dennish, Skillman, NJ 78
Oscar Mestre, Berwyn, PA 78
Jeff Huntzinger, Huntingdon Valley, PA 78
Glenn Gamza, Plymouth Meeting, PA 78
Anthony List, Havertown, PA 79
Kevin Kelly, Horsham, PA 79
Steve Frisch, Northampton, PA 79
Jamie Slonis, Sewell, NJ 79
Kevin Watford, Franklin, TN 79
Patrick Knott, Bryn Mawr, PA 79
Anthony Spikes, New York, NY 79
Eric Williams, Honesdale, PA 79
David Iwan, Rumson, NJ 79
Gus Steiger, Milford, PA 80
Alan Borowsky, Media, PA 80
Brian Corbett, Shavertown, PA 80
Keith Olinick, Royersford, PA 80
Andrew Kennedy, Philadelphia, PA 80
Tim Westfall, Bala Cynwyd, PA 80
Christopher Hunger, Stratford, NJ 80
Robert Bechtold, Avondale, PA 80
Chris Ewing, Doylestown, PA 80
Robin McCool, Bethlehem, PA 80
Adam Bracy, Edgewater Park, NJ 81
George Walker, Mobile, AL 81
Chris Meares, Turnersville, NJ 81
Jeff Hudson, Center Valley, PA 81
Jeff Klein, Ambler, PA 81
Sean Torpey, Doylestown, PA 81
Johan Van Schalkwyk, Haddon Heights, NJ 81
John Alterman, New Hope, PA 82
Dave Fardon, Center Valley, PA 82
David Sim, Media, PA 82
Kenneth Matt, Springhouse, PA 82
Steve Oh, Philadelphia, PA 82
Justin Pak, Media, PA 82
Patrick Pasquariello, Philadelphia, PA 82
Mike Paduano, Shrewsbury, NJ 82
Patrick Shanahan, Wayne, PA 82
Michael Brown, Jr., Cheltenham, PA 83
Charles Lynch, Jr., Lafayette Hill, PA 83
Elias Chua, Wilmington, DE 83
Patrick Murray, Blue Bell, PA 83
Taylor Stansberry, Yardley, PA 83
Nicholas Verrecchio, Havertown, PA 83
Brett Cybulski, Cherry Hill, NJ 84
Jeffrey Shanahan, King Of Prussia, PA 84
Roc Irey, Furlong, PA 84
Kirk Leslie, Basking Ridge, NJ 84
Brian Egan, Coopersburg, PA 84
William Naylor, Malvern, PA 84
Todd Vonderheid, Lewisburg, PA 85
Michael Faleski, Philadelphia, PA 85
Duane Pinnock, Eagleville, PA 85
Byron Whitman, Reading, PA 85
Frank Corrado, Washington Crossing, PA 86
John Manfredi, Margate, NJ 86
Will Green, Lawrenceville, NJ 87
Jon Corr, Pottersville, NJ 87
Brud Hutchinson, Doylestown, PA 87
Andy Dietz, Marlton, NJ 88
Michael Anderson, Horsham, PA 89
J.J. Taylor, Minooka, IL 89
Christopher Reedman, Yardley, PA 90
Thomas Maloney, Del Haven, NJ 90
Dionicio Jorge, Philadelphia, PA 91
Christopher Tennekoon, Long Island City, NY 92
Jonathan Shevlin, Lafayette Hill, PA 95
Chris Lange, Jr., Newtown Square, PA DQ
Daniel Pinciotti, Jr., Huntingdon Valley, PA WD
Thad Coontz, Long Branch, NJ WD
Ric Sucro, Plymouth Meeting, PA WD
Jeffrey Griest, Glen Mills, PA WD
Scott McNeil, Philadelphia, PA WD
Matthew Chavis, Forest Hill, MD WD
Kevin Gainer, Philadelphia, PA WD
Jeff Owsik, Bryn Mawr, PA WD
Travis Gahman, Souderton, PA WD
Carter Collins, Statesboro, GA WD
Robert Wojczak, Freehold, NJ WD
Chester Patterson, Basking Ridge, NJ WD
* – determined in playoff
DQ – disqualification; WD – withdrawal

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