PAOLI, Pa. — It’s quite common to find the St. Davids duo of Stephen Dressel and Brian Gillespie competing against each other on Saturdays on their home turf as clubmates. It’s not very often, however, they get to call each other teammates.
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Their standout performance Monday in a U.S. Four-Ball Qualifier at Waynesborough Country Club (par 71, 6,8648 yards) may change things. Dressel and Gillespie paired up for the first time in a USGA event to earn medalist honors thanks to a scorching 7-under 64.
“We’ve been playing lot of golf against each other at the club these past few years. It was nice, for a change, to be on the same side of things. We’ve really been pushing each other lately and it was great to see it paid off today,” said Gillespie, 42, of Newtown Square, Pa.
“It’s nice to be on the same side for once. It feels great to cheer him on instead of cheering against each other,” said Dressel, 29, of Wayne, Pa.
A 3-for-2 playoff determined the final two spots in the event. On Monday evening, The Ridge at Back Brook’s Brandon Dalinka and Bailey Patrick earned the first invitation. Philadelphia Cricket Club’s Sean Semenetz and Jack Wallace battled through five playoff holes versus clubmates Conrad Von Borsig and Robby Walizer – a duel that resumed Tuesday morning – to secure the third and final berth.
The championship proper will take place May 19-23 at Jupiter Hills Club (Tequesta, Fla.).
On the front side, things began steady for Dressel and Gillespie through four holes under frigid, gusting conditions. The pair produced a needed hot streak thanks to a birdie barrage starting on No. 5 (par 4, 420 yards). Both players carded 3s there in result of nicely played wedge approaches, followed by a 30-foot jarred birdie by Dressel. Gillespie would get the team farther in the red with a birdie on No. 7 (par 5, 540 yards) after a perfect drive, a pure 3-wood, a 40-yard chip followed by a four-foot conversion. On No. 8 (par 4, 373 yards), Gillespie fired a wedge to within 20 feet below the hole and knocked the putt in to get the team to 3 under, which it would make the turn at.
Dressel stepped up for the team big time on Waynesborough’s second nine. With Gillespie playing steady, par golf, Dressel would be freed up to be aggressive. The formula worked. He’d go on to card birdies on Nos. 12 (par 4, 340 yards), 13 (par 4, 402 yards) and 15 (par 5, 554 yards). Standing on the 18th tee (par 5, 530 yards) at 6 under, Dressel wanted one more. His driver-hybrid combo left him with just 20 feet, leading to a finishing two-putt birdie.
“It’s a different mindset when you’re playing better-ball. I always knew Brian was going to be there, because he’s so consistent and rarely ever out of a hole. It gave me the ability to just attack,” said Dressel.
“I was just trying to keep us in our lane. When he gets going, boy, he really gets going. It was fun to watch it happen and I was there in case he needed me,” said Gillespie. Dressel and Gillespie both had consistent, successful campaigns in Golf Association of Philadelphia competition this season. Dressel finished as co-runner-up in the GAP Middle Amateur Championship at Overbrook Golf Club. Gillespie finished tied for third in the Joseph H. Patterson Cup at Wilmington Country Club (South) in addition to a Top-5 finish in the Silver Cross Award standings.
“It was nice to see both of us have a good season. It feels good to put on a good performance while representing our club. We did both play well throughout the year,” said Gillespie.
Because of that success, both players were named to the GAP’s honorary team in the Philadelphia Challenge Matches, played Oct. 5 at Saucon Valley Country Club (Weyhill). They used that time to finally practice as a team.
“We had asked [GAP Honorary Captain] Robin McCool if we could be paired up with each other, knowing we would be playing together here. We kind of used that as a warm up, and luckily it worked,” said Gillespie.
Winning the qualifying medal means Dressel is now set to play in his first USGA championship. Gillespie will provide the team with a veteran presence at Jupiter Hills, as he will be playing in his seventh USGA event, including an appearance in the 2015 U.S Four Ball at The Olympic Club in San Francisco, Calif.
“Job, wife, travel, it’s been hard,” said Dressel when asked about the difficulties of qualifying. “Unfortunately, I haven’t been able to tee it up in these qualifiers lately, so this will be a great one to start with. The monkey’s off my back.”
The two other teams earning spots didn’t take the same path as the medalists. A 3-for-2 playoff began around 6 p.m. Monday on the verge of darkness. All players agreed to play through it.
Dalinka stole the show on the first playoff hole (par 4, 367 yards) with a perfect wedge approach that nestled within three feet, leading to a birdie conversion on No. 1. He and Patrick, who were Tar Heel teammates at the University of North Carolina, quickly wrapped up the first spot available and hit the road.
The Cricketeer duos moved on to No. 2 (par 4, 408 yards) under the artificial shine of cell phone flashlights. Wallace lost his tee ball left into the dark abyss, but Semenetz was able to convert par. With car headlights beaming on the putting green to provide playability, Walizer went on to rattle home a 4 of his own to halve. The match would be suspended for the night.
After a good night’s rest, the foursome teed off on No. 8 at 8 a.m. Tuesday. Common pars arrived there, followed by four bogeys, including three-putts from both Semenetz and Walizer, on No. 9.
The match made its way back to the first tee. Semenetz and Walizer found the dance floor with their approaches, while Von Borsig and Wallace fell just short of the green.
Both birdie putts rolled within five feet of the cup, while the two attempts from the front of the green rolled just outside of that range. Von Borsig and Walizer both lipped out on their par putts, giving way to a Semenetz conversion from three feet for the triumph.
“We put in a good 12 hours here yesterday, then went right to bed. We’ve been in this position before, but nothing like that,” said Wallace, 33, of Beverly, N.J.
“It was wild. Especially playing against guys who we know so well and play against every weekend,” said Semenetz, 30, of Philadelphia, Pa.
This marks the third time out of four tries the team has qualified for the #USFourBall (2015 at The Olympic Club, 2016 at Pinehurst). They’ve even been deemed “Four-ball legends” by some back at the club. They’ll look to build on their team’s impressive resume once again in May.
“I really don’t know what it is about this event,” said Semenetz. “It honestly might say bad things about our individual game, but we form a great team. We’re excited to get back there.”
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 153 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, town||Score|
|Stephen Dressel / Brian Gillespie; Wayne, Pa., Newtown Square, Pa.||64|
|*Brandon Dalinka / Bailey Patrick; Margate City, N.J., Charlotte, N.C.||66|
|*Sean Semenetz / Jack Wallace; Philadelphia, Pa., Beverly, N.J.||66|
|Alternates (in order)|
|*Conrad Von Borsig / Robby Walizer; Philadelphia, Pa.||66|
|Samuel Banks / Marco Poccia; Glen Allen, Va., Richmond, Va.||67|
|Failed to qualify|
|Michael Brown / Scott McLaughlin; Maple Shade, N.J., Hatboro, Pa.||67|
|Michael McDermott / Jeffrey Osberg; Bryn Mawr, Pa..||68|
|Daniel Timby / Tom Timby; Avon Lake, Ohio, Doylestown, Pa.||68|
|Sean Seese / Benjamin Smith; Rydal, Pa., Philadelphia, Pa.||68|
|Eddie Johnson / Stephen Seiden; Havertown, Pa., Newtown Square, Pa.||70|
|Jason Loehrs / Scott McNeil; Havertown, Pa., Philadelphia, Pa.||70|
|Joe April / Marc Mandel; Berwyn, Pa., Plymouth Meeting, Pa.||71|
|Nick Biondi / Christian Davis; Scranton, Pa., West Pittston, Pa.||71|
|Ryan Gelrod / Mike Moffat; Ambler, Pa., Warrington, Pa.||71|
|Dan Brown / Brian McDermott; Broomall, Pa., Media, Pa.||71|
|John Lalley / Mike O’Neil; Ardmore, Pa., Baltimore, Md.||71|
|John Pelet / Daniel Rudershausen; Avondale, Pa., Unionville, Pa.||71|
|Kevin Cahill / Robert Good; Wayne, Pa., Bryn Mawr, Pa.||72|
|Damon Heller / Stephen Hudacek; Lititz, Pa., Harveys Lake, Pa.||72|
|James Kania / Michael Kania; Haverford, Pa.||72|
|Michael Hyland / Troy Vannucci; Medford, N.J., Marlton, N.J.||72|
|Mark Peterson / Cory Reighard; Berwyn, Pa., Downingtown, Pa.||72|
|Ryan Schneiter / Sean Smyth; New York, N.Y., Lebanon, Pa.||72|
|Kurt Fortman / Steven Mullalley; Cincinnati, Ohio, Lewis Center, Ohio||72|
|Charles Briggs / John Brundred; McLean, VA, Potomac, Md.||73|
|Christopher Binder / Sean McMonagle; Collingswood, N.J., Merchantville, N.J.||73|
|Dan Bernard / Joe Bernard; Berwyn, Pa., Philadelphia, Pa.||73|
|Brandon Mader / Michael Souliotis; Greenville, N.C., Somerville, Mass.||73|
|Dan Arison / Christopher Lawler; Philadelphia, Pa..||73|
|Jamison Licausi / Kevin Maguire; Mount Laurel, N.J., Philadelphia, Pa.||73|
|Robert Bechtold / Tyler Rae; Avondale, Pa., Wilmington, DE||74|
|Daniel Pinciotti Jr / Will Weihenmayer; Ivyland, Pa., Ambler, Pa.||74|
|Larry Benedetto / Douglas Fedoryshyn; West Chester, Pa., Malvern, Pa.||74|
|Nick Hartley / Jeffrey Romines; Fenton, Mi., Conshohocken, Pa.||74|
|Eric Anderson / David Elliott; Darien, Conn., Radnor, Pa.||75|
|Mike Stokes / John Wheeler; Reisterstown, Pa., Marmora, N.J.||75|
|Chip Culp / Robert Robertson; Washington, DC, Philadelphia, Pa.||75|
|Justin Dipoto / Mark McCabe; North Brunswick, N.J., Milltown, N.J.||75|
|Matt Marino / Jon Nolan Perry; Malvern, Pa., Berwyn, Pa.||76|
|Joe Delli Carpini / Bryan Winsko; Philadelphia, Pa., Schwenksville, Pa.||76|
|Stephen Barry / Lodie Van Tonder; Mullica Hill, N.J., Pennsville, N.J.||76|
|Ben Keyser / Michael Winton; Marlton, N.J., Haddon Heights, N.J.||77|
|Zach Falone / Matt Mancini; Mickleton, N.J., Douglassville, Pa.||78|
|William Howard / Andrew Sterge; West Chester, Pa., Wayne, Pa.||79|
|Tom Coyne / Brendan Young; Devon, Pa., Glenside, Pa.||81|
|Daniel Rexon / Adam Warner; Philadelphia, Pa., Haddon Township, N.J.||84|
|John Murphy / Mark Saltzburg; Cape May Court House, N.J., Hollidaysburg, Pa.||87|
|Gavin Grimes / Andrew Ploszay; Malvern, Pa., Berwyn, Pa.||WD|
|Kevin Koch / Pa.trick Phillips; Souderton, Pa., Pottstown, Pa.||WD|
|Sean Coyle / Tom Spano; Wayne, Pa., Bryn Mawr, Pa.||WD|
|Dan Crockett / Kevin Johnson; Franklin, Tenn., Naples, Fla.||WD|
|*-determined in playoff; WD-withdrawal|