St. Davids GC's Gillespie tops USGA Mid-Amateur Qualifier - The Golf Association of Philadelphia

Aug 30, 2010

St. Davids GC’s Gillespie tops USGA Mid-Amateur Qualifier

  MALVERN, Pa. – Brian Gillespie of St. Davids GC broke out of his shell Monday and carded an even-par 71 to top a USGA Mid-Amateur Qualifier administered by the Golf Association of Philadelphia at White Manor CC (par 71, 6,945 yards).

  Gillespie, of Wayne, Pa., led a brigade of seven players who will now compete in the Championship proper, set for Sept. 25-30 at Atlantic GC in Bridgehampton, N.Y.

  “It makes my whole year, regardless of what I did in any of the other tournaments,” he said. “And I think any guy here would tell you the same thing. If you qualify for a USGA tournament, I think there’s nothing better. I can look back on the year and say it was a success based on one day. That’s just the way golf goes.”

  The 35-year-old did his homework to earn medalist honors.

  “Looking at scores from the past couple of years, you figure even-par or 1 over has a pretty good shot,” he said. “I played (a practice round) here on Friday, and there are a couple of holes out here where you can really make a number. You just want to stay away from trying to go after sucker pins. My goal today was to make three birdies and play solid.”

  Gillespie adhered to that strategy by creating ample scoring opportunities throughout the day. He encountered trouble on his second hole of the day, though. After steering his drive into the left fairway bunker on No. 2 (par 4, 430 yards), Gillespie slapped his 7-iron 181 yards into the left greenside bunker. He then stopped a sand shot at 15-feet and failed to save par. Gillespie reclaimed that stroke by carding a birdie on the fierce par 4, 414-yard 4th hole. He drilled his 5-iron 185 yards and dialed in a left-to-right breaking 35-footer. Gillespie ripped his drive on No. 7 (par 4, 343 yards) more than 300 yards, clear of any bunker or water hazard. A delicate chip placed Gillespie seven feet from the drain, and he cleaned up the birdie putt.

  “That was a knee-knuckler on the tee,” Gillespie, the 2001 Amateur Champion and 2003 Amateur runner-up, said. “You don’t want to go right, and in the practice round, I hit it right and almost into the water, so I knew I could get it to the water.”

  Gillespie’s qualifying bid ended on a somewhat disheartening note. Feeling “a little juice,” he hammered a hard 9-iron 156 yards on the uphill par 4, 416-yard 18th hole. It landed on the front slope and spun downwards. Gillespie chipped up to within 15-feet but missed the ensuing par try.

  It’s been a relatively quiet season for Gillespie, who leapt back into the GAP spotlight last year. He finished as runner-up in the Patterson Cup at Llanerch CC and earned spots on the Association’s Mason-Dixon and Compher Cup teams. Injuries detoured his play this season.

  “I haven’t been feeling good,” Gillespie said. “My whole left side is kind of all torn up, so I’ve been limiting my golf schedule to just GAP events and USGA qualifiers. I’m working through rehab and working on my left side, so hopefully that will be stronger.”

  Geoffrey Cooper of Laurel Creek CC, Duke Delcher, a former Atlantic City CC and Sandy Run CC member, Ryan McCarty of Little Mill CC, Eric Williams of the Country Club at Woodloch Springs carded respective 1-over-par 72s to advance. Two weeks ago, Cooper changed a key club in his bag, which has helped the Philadelphia, Pa. resident tremendously.

  “The biggest difference for me is I switched to a long putter about two weeks ago. I hit a lot of greens. I think I made a lot of eight-footers for par that I wasn’t making before, and that kept me going. Every time I go out, it gets more comfortable.”

  Those eight-footers dropped for Cooper, 33. He posted 15 pars, two bogeys and a birdie on the scorecard. The mishaps occurred on Nos. 2 (par 4, 430 yards) and 16 (par 4, 441 yards). The first one seemed surprising as Cooper struck his 4-iron – “the best iron of the day” – 190 yards to the back fringe, directly parallel to the hole location. He ran his birdie putt six-feet past and missed the comebacker. On No. 16, he bumped his 6-iron 175 yards into the left greenside bunker and couldn’t get up-and-down to save par. Cooper’s lone birdie occurred on No. 17 (par 5, 550 yards). He rocketed a 4-iron 205 yards to the back fringe. Cooper then rolled a downhill 50-footer for eagle to three feet.

Cooper, a Golf Association of Philadelphia volunteer, also advanced to Sectional qualifying for the U.S. Open this year following a strong performance at Galloway National GC.

  “I’ve only really had two goals (this year),” Cooper said. “To make the (Golf Association of Philadelphia) Amateur qualifying for match play and this. At least I can check one of those off.”

  And a new flatstick could be the gateway to future success.

  “It all starts with the putter,” Cooper said. “When you’re standing over three-footers, and the ball’s not starting online, it’s tough to get through these tournaments. Now, every three-footer I’ve had, I’ve hit in the center of the cup. It keeps you going.”

  Delcher, who now resides in Bluffton, S.C., registered three red figures on the day. On No. 4 (par 4, 414 yards), he powered his 5-wood 204 yards to 15 feet. A proficient pitch on No. 7 (par 4, 373 yards) left Delcher, 54, eight feet from the cup. He fired an energizing birdie on the par 4, 441-yard 16th after hammering his 5-wood 208 yards to six feet.

  Delcher, the 1976 Patterson Cup Champion and Amateur runner-up, has participated in USGA Championships over the last five decades. He decided to travel north for qualifying because it fit his golf schedule. Delcher will attempt to qualify for the USGA Senior Amateur next week in New York.

  “I like coming up here playing on bent grass,” he added. “And to see some friends. It’s fun to come back and just be part of the deal.”

  Strong starts had been McCarty’s Achilles heel this season, but the Voorhees, N.J., resident reversed his fortunes Monday. He rifled his pitching wedge 130 yards on No. 1 (par 4, 422 yards) and rolled in a four-footer for birdie. After carding eight consecutive pars, McCarty carried a 1 under into the 10th hole, which became the “big turning point in the round.” He cranked a 6-iron into the left greenside bunker and attempted to escape, but McCarty’s sand shot didn’t respond accordingly.

  “There was a lot of sand in there, and I didn’t have a lot of green to work with, so I was trying to hit too cute of a shot, and it didn’t turn out for me.”

  The next shot did turn out in McCarty’s favor as he jarred a sand wedge to save par. Three consecutive bogeys on Nos. 13 (par 4, 456 yards) 14 (par 3, 217 yards) and 15 (par 4, 305 yards ) threatened to extinguish his qualifying chances. Hole difficulty and tough recovery shots put McCarty at risk.

  “I kind of felt I was already losing half a shot on each hole just because they’re so hard,” he said. “I just didn’t hit it where I was supposed to and couldn’t get up-and-down.”

  However, McCarty, a law student at Rutgers University, executed an uplifting birdie on No. 18 after smashing his 8-iron 150 yards to 15-feet.

  “I wasn’t sure whether I needed to make it, or if I needed a two-putt, so I was kind of in-between going for it,” he said.

  On Monday, McCarty, who turned 25 in June to become freshly eligible for the Mid-Amateur format, stood at 1 under through 13 holes to lead the field, a position he’s all too familiar with this season. McCarty was a sensational 4 under through his first four holes in the Association’s Open Championship at Philmont CC, but gradually fell back to finish in the middle of the pack. Earlier this month, he carried a stellar 6 under on the scorecard through his first 13 holes in a U.S. Amateur Qualifier at Cedarbrook CC and Sunnybrook GC, but again slipped down the leaderboard. Needless to say, Monday provided a welcome change.

  “I’ve been getting off to really good starts,” McCarty, who advanced to the Round of 16 in this year’s Amateur Championship, said. “It just seems like every time I get out here, I end up seeing my name on the leaderboard after nine holes. The first couple of times, it may have had me a little bit flustered. But you just get more comfortable being there. I’m not hitting the ball that great. I’m just hitting it low and straight.”

  Williams, of Honesdale, Pa., entered a groove early by posting a sturdy 3 under on his outward tour.

  “I got off to a real hot start,” he said. “It was a good thing and a bad thing. It’s tough to play with. You see the scoreboards out there. You see where you’re at, and you try to protect, which is not a good thing to do. I was trying to do it.”

  Williams, 37, tallied back-to-back birdies on Nos. 11 (par 5, 527 yards) and 12 (par 3, 182 yards). On the first, he knocked a routine pitching wedge to six feet, and on the latter, Williams executed a 40-footer to follow a 6-iron that landed right of the flagstick. He stamped red on his front nine by crushing a 7-iron 151 yards uphill to 15-feet.

  The nerves gradually kicked in. Standing “in between yardage” on No. 4 (par 4, 414 yards), Williams knocked his 9-iron 127 yards into the front bunker and failed to get up-and-down. He two-putted from 20-feet on No. 6 (par 5, 555 yards) to log a second bogey. An errant tee shot on No. 9 (par 4, 436 yards) forced Williams to wisely return to the fairway. He pierced a 7-iron 150 yards and ran a downhill 15-footer to save par four feet beyond the jar. Williams missed the comebacker to card a double bogey.

  This will mark Williams’ first appearance in the USGA Mid-Amateur. He qualified for the US Amateur in 2005 and 2007.

  Also qualifying Monday were Bill Jeremiah of Bidermann GC, the 2010 Middle-Amateur runner-up, and Roc Irey of Lookaway GC, the 2009 Brewer Cup runner-up. Both players carded a 2-over-par 73.

Name City Scores
Brian Gillespie Wayne, PA 71
Ryan McCarty Voorhees, NJ 72
Geoffrey Cooper Philadelphia, PA 72
Eric Williams Honesdale, PA 72
Duke Delcher Bluffton, SC 72
Bill Jeremiah West Grove, PA 73
Roc Irey Furlong, PA 73
Alternates (in order)
#Jeff Huntzinger Huntingdon Valley, PA 74
#Jeffrey Osberg West Chester, PA 74
Failed to qualify
#Patrick Dougherty North Wales, PA 74
#Stephen Seiden Chadds Ford, PA 74
#Endel Liias Phoenixville, PA 74
#Peyton Wallace Edgartown, MA 74
Chip Lutz Reading, PA 75
Andy Dietz Marlton, NJ 75
Frank Natale Ambler, PA 75
Alan Lazzarino Wilmington, DE 76
Thomas Timby Doylestown, PA 76
Glenn Smeraglio Newtown, PA 76
Chad Perman Media, PA 76
David Brookreson Huntingdon Valley, PA 76
David Liotta West Chester, PA 76
Christopher Lange, Jr. Newtown Square, PA 76
Marlin Detweiler Akron, PA 77
Peter Barron, III Mays Landing, NJ 77
Chris Lange Bryn Mawr, PA 77
Chris Demetrakis Abingdon, MD 77
Andy Strock Yardley, PA 77
Andy Latowski Plainsboro, NJ 77
Santo Lafoca Shavertown, PA 77
Marc Mandel Conshohocken, PA 78
Mike Hodges Media, PA 78
Thomas DiCinti Voorhees, NJ 78
Ed Brown Lewes, DE 78
Rich Thon Swarthmore, PA 78
Oscar Mestre Berwyn, PA 78
John Murphy Cape May Court House, NJ 78
Sean Coyle Philadelphia, PA 78
Jhoon Chang Ardmore, PA 78
Matthew Finger Woolwich Township, NJ 78
Arthur Kania Haverford, PA 78
Brian Corbett Clarks Summit, PA 78
Lawrence Benedetto West Chester, PA 79
Lance Oberparleiter Blenheim, NJ 79
Thomas Borsello Wilmington, DE 80
Chris Sylvia Atco, NJ 80
Scott Klee Telford, PA 80
P. Chet Walsh Wayne, PA 80
Anthony List Havertown, PA 80
Andy Achenbach Royersford, PA 80
Ben Eisner Raleigh, NC 81
Elias Chua Centreville, DE 81
Robin McCool Bethlehem, PA 81
Jack Wallace Beverly, NJ 81
Pete Moran Chester Springs, PA 81
David Shields Erdenheim, PA 81
Neil Gordon Warrington, PA 81
Robert Savarese Lafayette Hill, PA 81
John LeBoeuf Bryn Mawr, PA 81
Jim Rattigan Orwigsburg, PA 81
James Donnelly Wayne, PA 81
Alex Weber West Chester, PA 82
Sean Quinn Philadelphia, PA 82
Dominic Schiavone Bangor, PA 82
Dave Fardon Center Valley, PA 82
Michael Quinn East Fallowfield, PA 82
Russell Rose Wilson, NC 82
Matthew Shevlin Drexel Hill, PA 82
Michael Santerian Villanova, PA 82
Ryan Gelrod Ambler, PA 82
Nicholas Anderson Broomall, PA 82
Ari Flaisher Ardmore, PA 83
Ed Chylinski Gulph Mills, PA 83
Rich Morrison Marana, AZ 83
Charles Scalzott North Wales, PA 83
Thomas Gramigna Haddonfield, NJ 83
Michael Rogers Bryn Mawr, PA 83
Craig Scott Marshalls Creek, PA 83
Mark Metaxas Yardley, PA 84
Damon Barbacci York, PA 84
Robert Loftus Rosemont, PA 84
Robert Struthers Ocean City, NJ 84
Mark Wachter Wilmington, DE 85
Bill Turner Delran, NJ 85
Bob Ursomarso Marlton, NJ 85
John Nottage Warminster, PA 86
Timothy Westfall Bala Cynwyd, PA 86
Ashley Brasfield Merion Station, PA 86
Todd Vonderheid Kingston, PA 86
Christopher McLaughlin Bear, DE 87
Glenn Gamza Bridgeport, PA 87
John Lupica Newtown, PA 88
Joseph Dulka West Chester, PA 88
Andrew Speaker Newtown, PA 88
Christopher Meares Turnersville, NJ 89
Drew Forrester Parkville, MD 89
Brian Sexton Little Egg Harbor, NJ 89
Roger Stone Honey Brook, PA 90
Ajai Sirohi Princeton, NJ 91
James Levy Bryn Mawr, PA NS
Kevin Hart Hopewell, NJ NS
Jeffrey Romines Conshohocken, PA NS
Frank Corrado, Jr. Washington Crossing, PA WD
Christopher Binder Collingswood, NJ NC
Matthew German Collegeville, PA WD
Douglas Schroer Malvern, PA WD
John Castleman Devon, PA WD
Clinton Bunting Rehoboth Beach, DE WD
Drew Panebianco Dresher, PA DQ
# – determined in playoff
DQ – disqualification; WD – withdrawal
NS – no show; NC – no card

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