May 14, 2009

Tavistock CC set to host 26th Mid.-Am. Championship

The Golf Association of Philadelphia launches the Majors section of its tournament season next week with the 26th Middle-Amateur Championship, which will be held May 20-21 at Tavistock CC.

   Defending champion Michael McDermott of Merion GC looks to become the first player in GAP history to win four Mid.-Am. titles. He won the silver anniversary of the contest last year at Fieldstone GC by carding a 2-over-par 144. He also earned titles in 2001 and 2004.

   McDermott hopes to again achieve success and to start the tournament season strong.

   “The Mid.-Am. always gets here quickly. It sort of sneaks up on us,” he said. “I think everyone is still trying to figure their game out. We may all be a little rusty. Hopefully, I’ll be ready to go.”

   McDermott, a five-time William Hyndman, III Player of the Year Award winner, will tee off alongside two-time Mid.-Am. champs Chris Lange of Overbrook GC (2005-06) and Chip Lutz of LedgeRock GC (1998, 2007). That trio also teed off together at Fieldstone GC last year.

   “It worked out pretty well for me,” McDermott said. “Aside from being great players and competitors, they’re also really close friends. That just makes for a really great day.”

   Lutz also speaks highly of his tee-mates.

   “It’s a great pairing. I’m looking forward to playing with those guys,” he said.

   At the outset of last year’s final round of the Mid.-Am., McDermott and Lutz were deadlocked at even-par through seven holes. However, Lutz called a penalty on himself on No. 8, received five penalty strokes and fell off the lead.

   “It was down to Chip and I toward the end,” McDermott said. “It would never surprise me if that happened again this year.”

   Aside from Lutz, McDermott faces a plethora of competition at Tavistock CC. Some of those tough players include Brian Gillespie of St. Davids GC, the 2001 Amateur Champion; Tom Gramigna of Tavistock CC, a three-time New Jersey State Golf Association Mid.-Am. champion; Oscar Mestre, Jr. of Overbrook GC, the 2002 Mid-Am. champion; Bill McGuinness of Tavistock CC, the 2007 New Jersey State Amateur Champion, a former GAP Amateur Champion and the 2003 Mid-Am. runner-up; Jamie Slonis of Tavistock CC, the 2001 Patterson Cup winner; Glenn Smeraglio of Commonwealth National GC, a three-time Silver Cross winner, the 2006 Marston Cup winner and 2008 Patterson Cup winner; Mike Tash of Tavistock CC, a three-time Patterson Cup winner and two-time Silver Cross champion and Ray Thompson of Overbrook GC, the 2007 Senior POY.

   “The quality of the Mid.-Am. players is really strong in Philadelphia. We have a great contingency of players,” McDermott said. “Whoever goes on to win this tournament will have a lot of success this tournament season.”

   Next week’s Mid.-Am. will be Lutz’s last, he said.

   “It’s a tournament that I’ve always enjoyed playing in,” Lutz said. “I’m hopeful I play well and make a good showing. I’ve had a few putting woes lately. If I can get a grip on that, it will improve my odds of winning.”

   The Middle-Amateur is for players 25 years of age and older. It is a two-day, 36-hole tournament.

   The GAP Middle-Amateur started in 1984, three years after the USGA created the U.S. Mid-Am as a formal championship for post-college amateurs. The Association followed suit with the USGA in creating a Mid.-Am., but initially differed in its administration of the tournament in a couple of respects.

   The most obvious difference was the age requirement. Prior to 2001, the GAP Mid-Am was for players 30 years of age and older. That Committee reviewed and revised that age requirement in 2001 to match the USGA’s guidelines of 25 years of age or older for eligible players.

   Also at that point, the Committee changed the format of the event to a two-day stroke play tournament (instead of a one-day medal play event) with a cut to the low 70 players and ties after the first round. The field begins with 132 players. Players must have a GAP/USGA Handicap Index of 7.0 or lower.

   This is the first full scoring event toward the William Hyndman, III Player of the Year standings.

   As always, members of the media are encouraged to attend and can contact the golf office at 610-687-2340 for more information.

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