May 25, 2011

St. Davids GC’s Gillespie cards a 4-under 67; holds two-stroke lead

 MT. LAUREL, N.J.–Brian Gillespie refused to allow a pair of opening bogeys to derail his Mid-Am train.

*Round 2 tee times | *Event photos | *Event history | *Scorecards | *2011 Middle-Amateur Media Guide

 Instead, the St. Davids GC member kept his game on track, rallying with four birdies and an eagle to shoot a day’s best 4-under-67 Wednesday at Laurel Creek CC (par 71, 6,742 yards) in the 28th Middle-Amateur Championship. Gillespie, 35, of Wayne, Pa., enters tomorrow’s second and final round with a two-shot lead over local hopefuls Michael Hyland and Ryan McCarty, both of Little Mill CC, and star senior circuit competitor Chip Lutz of LedgeRock GC.

Michael Hyland eyes his
tee shot on No. 14 (par 3, 165 yards).

 Tee times begin at 7:30 a.m. on Thursday. Gillespie, McCarty and Lutz, the day’s final grouping, tee off at 11:30 a.m.

  The cut line for the low 70 players and ties fell at 80. A total of 74 players of the 125 advanced into Day 2.

  “There’s no better time to be 2 over than after two holes is kind of what I was thinking. You have 16 holes to make it up,” said Gillespie, the 2001 Amateur Champion. “I played a practice round here. I was pretty comfortable and knew what was ahead of me. It seemed like the holes were in fairly accessible locations so I felt like if I made a few good swings and made a few good putts I could get back in it, which I did. I got lucky. You have that mentality every time you go out and sometimes it doesn’t work your way. Today it did.”

  Gillespie’s turnaround started in style on No. 5 (par 5, 505 yards). He hammered a 6-iron from 205 yards, downwind, to 25 feet below the hole.

  “I made a really nice putt. It was right in the heart,” said Gillespie of the eagle three. “That got me back to even [par] and kind of settled me down and gave me an everything’s-going-to-be-fine kind of feeling.”

  Gillespie added a nice two-putt birdie from 50 feet on No. 9 (par 5, 545 yards) to make the turn in 1 under. On No. 11 (par 4, 396 yards), Gillespie surprised himself when his 30-foot downhill birdie dropped in the right side of the hole.

  “It’s not a putt you are trying to make. The hole looks really small going down that green,” said Gillespie who moved to 2 under after that. “It dropped in and I felt really good.”

  Gillespie added another red figure on No. 13 (par 4, 387 yards) when he knocked a wedge from 123 yards to 15 feet and made the birdie chance. He noted a momentum saving 80-foot, two-putt par on No. 14 (par 3, 165 yards) before carding his final birdie of the day on No. 15 (par 5, 521 yards). He knocked a 3-iron 240 yards to 60 feet and two putted.

  Gillespie carded three solid pars on the three difficult closing holes.

  “I got a softball game tonight so I’ll try not to get hurt,” said a laughing Gillespie. “I had a good round. I’m excited. I’m only halfway home and anything can happen.”

  In addition to the 2001 Amateur win, other top Gillespie GAP finishes included a runner-up performance in the 2003 Amateur and a second-place effort in the 2009 Patterson Cup. His top Mid-Am finish also came in 2009, a third-place showing.


GAP-wise, the last couple years are a resurgence of sorts for Gillespie.

  “I can’t point my finger at something in the last couple years as a turning point for me. There are really only four or five rounds that make or break your year. You could play well all year, and have four or five bad days in GAP events and it looks like you had a bad year,” said Gillespie. “I’m trying to focus a little more in these events. I’ve been trying to keep my swing thoughts clean and simple. Today after the first two holes everything went my way.”

  A trio of challengers hover two shots behind the good-fortuned Gillespie.

  Hyland and McCarty are nearby New Jersey residents with a ton of Laurel Creek CC course knowledge.

  Hyland, 32, of Marlton, N.J., graduated from Holy Cross High School in 1997 where in his four years on the golf team, the Lancers never lost a home match at Laurel Creek.

  Hyland opened his round with five birdies in his first 13 holes before a pair of misguided 7-irons gave three shots back.

  Hyland birdied No. 3 (par 3, 167 yards) with a 7-iron he hit to three feet; No. 5 when he knocked a 6-iron from 195 yards on the green in two and two putted; No. 8 (par 4, 346 yards) with a wedge from 100 yards that stopped a foot from the hole; No. 9 with a 7-iron from 183 yards and an ensuing two putt and No. 13 (par 4, 387 yards) with a 140-yard wedge shot that stopped eight foot shy of the hole.

  His two poor 7-irons, a push on No. 14 (par 3, 165 yards) and heavy effort on No. 18 (par 4, 437 yards), resulted in a bogey and double bogey, respectively.

  Hyland said he’s never seen such calm conditions at Laurel Creek in all his time here. He’s hoping the wind picks up tomorrow.

  “I would be extremely happy if that happens,” said Hyland.

  McCarty, 25, of Voorhees, N.J., was a Laurel Creek junior member when he was 16 and 17 years old.

  He recently graduated from Rutgers Law School and will begin studying for the bar exam next week.

  “The last three weeks I’ve been playing a lot of golf. This is kind of my window,” said McCarty. “I know generally where to hit it off the tee here because there is a little bit more room than it looks. And I made some putts. It definitely helped [being a member here]. There are some intimidating shots around here and if you don’t know what club to hit or where to hit it, it makes it that much more difficult.”

  McCarty birdied No. 3 after hitting a 7-iron to 15 feet; No. 5 on the strength of a two-putt from 30 feet; No. 9, playing his ball down the adjacent 18th, with a pitching wedge from 120 yards that stopped eight feet from the hole; and No. 11. He bogeyed No. 12 (par 4, 434 yards) after going long over the green but responded with a birdie on No. 14 (par 3, 165 yards) when his 6-iron stopped eight feet behind the hole. He failed to get up-and-down on No. 15 and then finished the last three holes in 1-over par.

  “If you can get through those last three holes at 1 over, that’s like gaining a stroke on the field,” said McCarty. “They are the toughest holes here.”

  Lutz, 56, of Reading, Pa., was the Golfweek National Senior Player of the Year in 2010. And he’s off to another good start, having won four senior events this past winter down South.

  A perennial Mid-Am contender, Lutz is a two-time event champion: 1998 and 2007.

  Wednesday, his round was pretty benign. Lutz drained a 25-foot birdie on No. 1 (par 4, 405 yards) but missed a short second putt on No. 2 (par 4, 368 yards) to fall back to even. He birdied the fourth hole (par 4, 405 yards) with an 8-iron from 150 yards to 10 feet and No. 15 after rocketing his 3-wood from 247 yards onto the collar of the green and getting up-and-down.

  “I struck the ball solidly. I hit it to the right spots on the green. I left a lot out there,” said Lutz. “I’m pleased with the results even though the score could have been better. I’ll be a couple back, but it’s a good position to be in. If you put something up, the guys will have to work at.”

NOTES–All three Laurel Creek CC members who qualified for the Championship Proper made the cut: Lee Cook, Geoff Cooper and Andrew Dietz. Cooper carded a 4-over 75; Dietz a 5-over 76 and Cook a 7-over 78 … Jamie Slonis of Tavistock CC aced the par 3, 167-yard No. 3 with a 7-iron. “I hit a little draw,” the Sewell, N.J. resident said. “It was coming right in at the flagstick. It hit just short of it [the hole location]. It kind of disappeared, though, because you can’t see it the way the green sits. The group ahead – [Michael] McDermott, [Tom] Gramigna and [Michael] Brown – raised their hands and said it was in. I knew it was going to be a decent shot. I never counted on it going in.” The hole-in-one marked the sixth of Slonis’ career. He last carded one two years ago during Tavistock’s Club Championship. Today’s ace gave Slonis a welcome boost. “It’s nice to get off to a good start, even though I followed it up with two bogeys,” he said. “I had a bad three-putt (on No. 4) and then I put a ball in the water on No. 5. But then I made a birdie on the hole after that to get it back to 1 under.” Slonis, 42, finished at 1 under and stands tied for fifth entering tomorrow’s second round. He is well-familiar with the Mt. Laurel, N.J. track. He worked as an assistant professional at Laurel Creek in 1991. “I’ve always liked this golf course. I’ve always done OK here,” Slonis, the 2001 Patterson Cup Champion, said.

Name, clubScore
Brian Gillespie, St. Davids Golf Club67
Ryan McCarty, Little Mill Country Club69
Chip Lutz, LedgeRock Golf Club69
Michael Hyland, Little Mill Country Club69
Michael Brown, Lookaway Golf Club70
Jamie Slonis, Tavistock Country Club70
Robert Cunningham, Overbrook Golf Club71
Glenn Smeraglio, Mercer Oaks Golf Course71
Louis Giovi, Old York CC at Chesterfield72
William McGuinness, Tavistock Country Club72
Douglas Zelner, Coatesville Country Club72
Robert Good, Merion Golf Club72
Matthew Mattare, Saucon Valley Country Club72
James Gillespie, Wedgwood Country Club73
Matthew Walsh, Overbrook Golf Club73
Kenneth Matt, Philadelphia Publinks GA73
William Jeremiah, Bidermann Golf Club74
Peter Barron, III, Stone Harbor Golf Club74
Scott McLaughlin, Commonwealth National Golf Club74
David Smith, Doylestown Country Club74
David West, Whitford Country Club74
John Brennan, Spring Ford Country Club74
Chris Hynoski, Mercer Oaks Golf Course75
Geoffrey Cooper, Laurel Creek Country Club75
Tom DiCinti, Links Golf Club75
Michael McDermott, Merion Golf Club75
Thomas Gramigna, Tavistock Country Club75
Michael Walker, Loch Nairn Golf Club75
Oscar Mestre, Overbrook Golf Club75
Andy Achenbach, RiverCrest Golf Club & Preserve75
Andrew Dietz, Laurel Creek Country Club76
Brian Kenny, Greate Bay Country Club76
Michael LaGrasso, Little Mill Country Club76
Joseph Russo, Running Deer Golf Club76
Anthony Martire, Seaview Resort & Spa76
Dan Pickering, Indian Valley Country Club76
Robert Bechtold, Loch Nairn Golf Club76
Ed Chylinski, Chester Valley Golf Club76
Fred Jones, Merion Golf Club76
Kyle Davis, Fieldstone Golf Club76
P. Chet Walsh, Philadelphia Country Club76
Stephen Seiden, Llanerch Country Club76
Scott Klee, Indian Valley Country Club76
James Donnelly, Merion Golf Club77
Matthew Finger, Wedgwood Country Club77
Sean Leonard, Tavistock Country Club77
Marc Mandel, Philadelphia Cricket Club77
Todd Vonderheid, Huntsville Golf Club77
Rodney James, Five Ponds Golf Club77
Tom Borsello, White Clay Creek Country Club77
Christopher Lange, Overbrook Golf Club77
Gregg Angelillo, Moselem Springs Golf Club77
Michael Quinn, Edgmont Country Club77
Chris Lange, Jr., Overbrook Golf Club78
Michael Moffat, Five Ponds Golf Club78
Lee Cook, Laurel Creek Country Club78
Tim Freeh, Back Creek Golf Club78
Tom Spano, Llanerch Country Club78
Alan Lazzarino, Loch Nairn Golf Club78
Ryan Gelrod, Commonwealth National Golf Club78
Craig Scott, Huntingdon Valley Country Club78
Rich Pruchnik, West Chester Golf & Country Club78
Michael Rose, Meadowlands Country Club78
Arthur Kania, Jr., Merion Golf Club78
Christopher Ault, Mercer Oaks Golf Course79
Daniel Feeney, Philadelphia Cricket Club79
Gil Moniz, Jr., Running Deer Golf Club79
Thomas Hyland, Little Mill Country Club79
Lance Oberparleiter, Little Mill Country Club80
Ray Pyontek, Mercer Oaks Golf Course80
Jim Rattigan, Schuylkill Country Club80
Steven Budenz, Mercer Oaks Golf Course80
Joe Frey, Edgmont Country Club80
John Murphy, II, Wildwood Golf & Country Club80
Failed to qualify
Matthew Gaffney, Little Mill Country Club81
Jack Anderson, Yardley Country Club81
David Brookreson, Huntingdon Valley Country Club81
Rand Mendez, Fieldstone Golf Club81
Neil Gordon, Five Ponds Golf Club81
Jeff Osberg, Llanerch Country Club81
Roc Irey, Lookaway Golf Club81
Scott Orr, Brookside Country Club81
Stephen McIntyre, Five Ponds Golf Club81
Jon Thomas, Back Creek Golf Club81
Blake Cleary, Wilmington Country Club82
Luis Diaz, Philadelphia Publinks GA82
Mike Amtsberg, Brookside Country Club82
Sean Remington, Green Valley Country Club82
Christopher Lucci, Brookside Country Club82
Chris Lilley, Northampton Valley Country Club83
G. Patrick Dougherty, Philadelphia Cricket Club83
Paul Rogowicz, Yardley Country Club83
Frank Savarese, Philadelphia Publinks GA83
Frank Corrado, Jr., Jericho National Golf Club83
Brad McFadden, Overbrook Golf Club83
John Gosselin, Kennett Square Golf & Country Club84
Bradley Roberts, Wedgwood Country Club84
Marlin Detweiler, Lancaster Country Club84
Rich Thon, The Springhaven Club84
Matt Jasudowich, Whitemarsh Valley Country Club84
Christopher Thude, Torresdale-Frankford Country Club84
George Griffaton, Brookside Country Club84
Michael Shoup, Sandy Run Country Club84
Robert Loftus, Overbrook Golf Club85
Gerry Baldachino, Old York CC at Chesterfield85
John Robinson, Commonwealth National Golf Club85
Steve Lubin, Five Ponds Golf Club85
Michael Rogers, Overbrook Golf Club86
Bo Maguire, Brookside Country Club86
Michael Evangelista, Concord Country Club86
John Aloisio, Running Deer Golf Club87
Michael Cole, Torresdale-Frankford Country Club87
Johan van Schalkwyk, Burlington Country Club87
Art Brosius, DuPont Country Club87
Alex Cameron, Merchantville Country Club88
Robert Savarese, Jr., Philadelphia Cricket Club89
Brian Fisher, Philadelphia Publinks GA89
Tom Carter, Philadelphia Cricket Club90
Dino Stathis, Metedeconk National Golf Club90
Kevin Hinkle, Whitemarsh Valley Country Club91
William Bello, Metedeconk National Golf Club96
Danny Osada, Philadelphia Publinks GA98
Francis Hamm, Country Club of ScrantonWD
Brian Foxx, Cherry Valley Country ClubWD
Peter Moran, Edgmont Country ClubDQ
DQ-disqualification; WD-withdrawal

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