U.S. Open Local Qualifying: Running Deer - The Golf Association of Philadelphia

May 07, 2024

U.S. Open Local Qualifying: Running Deer

Cerbara and Ryan co-medal

PITTSGROVE, N.J. – Golf can be stressful, just ask professionals Stephen Cerbara and Matthew Ryan. Patience prevailed for both players who fired rounds of 3-under-par 69 to earn co-medalist honors in U.S. Open Local Qualifying administered by GAP at Running Deer Golf Club (par 72, 6,986 yards) Tuesday.

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Trevor Bensel of Schoeneck, Pa., an assistant at Sandy Run Country Club, carded 2-under-par 70 to earn the final qualifying position. There were three spots and two alternate positions available.

“Honestly, I’m just happy to have a good round,” Cerbara, 25, of Langhorne, Pa., said. “I feel like the game is moving in the right direction, moving forward is the number one goal.”

Cerbara, who has played professionally since 2022, currently splits time between the Philadelphia area and Florida playing in mini-tours including the West Florida Golf Tour as well as Korn Ferry qualifying events. He also has roots in GAP. As a junior, he won the 2013 Christman Cup and has held membership at Huntingdon Valley Country Club since 2020. Cerbara is at the end of an intense period of travel. Last Wednesday, he competed in the Myrtle Beach Classic Pre-Qualifier. A 3-under-par 69 there earned him a position in the field. In the midst of moving back north for the summer, he scheduled a practice round at Running Deer on Friday. On Sunday, he flew back south for the Myrtle Beach Classic Monday Qualifier where he missed the cut.

Playing professionally hasn’t always been an attractive lifestyle for Cerbara.

“As a professional, it was a tough start early on. It’s a grind. There’s a lot of guys that really want that spot.” Cerbara said. “Early on, it was like, ‘Alright, I’m feeling alone. I don’t know if this is my path.’ It’s more so blocking that out. I’ve always enjoyed golf, but I haven’t been enjoying it as much as I am now.”

“I didn’t play well yesterday. I was thinking today, ‘I’m just going to have some fun [with] no expectations, [and] just try to get a little bit better each day.’ I feel like I found something with the long game which was huge.” Cerbara a 2021 graduate of Drexel University said. “I got to see a couple of buddies on the driving range I knew from playing in GAP which was awesome.”

Aided by a well-performing driver, Cerbara carded five birdies against two bogeys. On No. 9 (par 5, 510 yards), a speared 5-iron from 210 settled 15 feet from the hole for a stress-free two-putt. On No. 10 (par 4, 422 yards), his approach with a 54-degree wedge stuck 15 feet from the hole. He drained the putt. On the par 4, 352 yard 15th hole, his 50-degree wedge stopped just six feet from the hole for another tap-in.

Cerbara attempted Final Qualifying in 2018 and again in 2022. He will head to Canoe Brook Country Club in Summit, N.J. for his third U.S. Open Qualifying chance.

The 124th U.S. Open will take place June 13-16 at Pinehurst Resort & Country Club (Course No. 2) in Village of Pinehurst, N.C.

A recent equipment change for lefty Matthew Ryan gave him his piece of the medal.

“I’ve been playing reasonable golf, but I’ve struggled with the putter mentally. Yesterday, I went and bought a right-handed putter and putted right-handed today,” Ryan, 37, of Charlotte, N.C., said. “I’ve putt left-handed by entire life. I’ve always been a really good putter, and the last year or so I’ve just felt really uncomfortable, especially in the last month.”

A mental breakdown at the KIA Open in Quito, Ecuador last week signaled a time for change. Yesterday, he pulled the trigger and purchased a right-handed Odyssey putter from Golf Galaxy. His round at Running Deer, which he saw for the first time last night when he only played the back nine, was the maiden voyage for his newest pickup.

“Honestly, the thought of putting it in [the bag] made me more anxious than actually putting with it,” Ryan said. “I have a couple of buddies over the years that have been really good and have done it.”

Ryan, who turned professional in 2010, has status on the PGA TOUR Americas. According to him, he sits 47th on the PGA TOUR Americas’ money list. On Monday, he leaves for Colombia to compete in the Inter Rapidisimo Golf Championship. U.S. Open Local Qualifying at Running Deer just fit into his schedule.

“My coach [Nick Bradley] works out of the Knickerbocker [Country] Club, which is in Tenafly, N.J.,” Ryan, a 2009 graduate of California State University, Fresno, said. “I was trying to time my week off with also seeing him. I’ll see him tomorrow.”

Relying on new putting techniques, Ryan carded four birdies before day’s end. For starters, he played the course’s par-5s one under. On No. 13 (par 3, 226 yards), his laced a 5-iron settled 15 feet from the hole. On No. 14 (par 5, 555 yards) his 4-iron from 223 yards stopped 20 feet away. Two putts sealed the deal. He converted on a four-footer to close his round on the par 4, 469 yard, 18th hole.

Ryan advanced past Local Qualifying on two occasions (2015, 2023). This year, he will head to Old Chatham Golf Club in Durham, N.C. for Final Qualifying.

Bensel carded five birdies against three bogeys to get to his number. This is the 29-year-old’s first time advancing past Local Qualifying. He will attend Final Qualifying at Canoe Brook Country Club.

“[From past qualifying expereinces, I learned] just to never give up. You just never know what’s going to get through one of these.”


Celebrating Amateur Golf since 1897, GAP, also known as the Golf Association of Philadelphia, is the oldest regional or state golf association in the United States. It serves as the principal ruling body of amateur golf in its region. The organization’s 345 Member Clubs and 110,000 individual members are spread across Pennsylvania, Delaware, New Jersey and Maryland. The GAP’s mission is to promote, preserve and protect the game of golf.

Name, city, stateScore
Matthew Ryan, Charlotte, N.C.69
Stephen Cerbara, Langhorne, Pa.69
Trevor Bensel, Schoeneck, Pa.70
Alternates (in order)
*(a) Caleb Rossi, Manahawkin, N.J.71
*Michael Winter, Ocean City, N.J.71
Failed to qualify
(a) Matthew Bastian Jr., Philadelphia, Pa.72
(a) Kevin Lydon, Doylestown, Pa.72
(a) Patrick McRae, Kennett Square, Pa.72
(a) Troy Vannucci, Marlton, N.J.72
Johnny Bush, Cranford, N.J.72
(a) Nicklaus Harrington, Chaplin, Conn.72
Blaise Vanitvelt, Fenton, Mich.73
(a) David Stanford, Vienna, Va.73
Michael Rushin, Bartonsville, Pa.73
(a) Daniel Ayars, Millville, N.J.73
(a) Thomas Young, Center Valley, Pa.73
John Reid, Gainesville, Va.74
(a) Clark Topping, Bel Air, Md.74
Richard Stolz, West Deptford, N.J.74
(a) Andrew Wallace, Narberth, Pa.74
Hugh Reilly, Willow Grove, Pa.74
(a) Christopher Ault, Yardley, Pa.74
Chris Krueger, Rehoboth Beach, Del.75
(a) Logan Wagner, Quarryville, Pa.75
Michael Meisenzahl, Medford, N.J.75
Joseph Winslow, Overland Park, Kan.75
(a) Griffin Mitchell, New Albany, Ohio76
Dalton Deardorff, Salisbury, Md.76
William Thornton, West Palm Beach, Fla.76
Brian Devlin, Oreland, Pa.76
David Sanders, Palm Beach Gardens, Fla.76
(a) Brian Isztwan, Huntingdon Valley, Pa.76
Connor Moffat, Trenton, N.J.77
(a) Sebastian Botero, Abington, Pa.77
(a) P.J. Schulte, Middle Township, N.J.78
Steven Ashworth, Media, Pa.78
Shea Wolfle, Sewell, N.J.78
(a) Louis Giovacchini, Palm Coast, Fla.78
Kyle Quagliero, Medford Lakes, N.J.78
(a) Nicholas Riscica, Newtown, Pa.79
(a) Jack Irons, Naples, Fla.80
Michael Kelly, Alexandria, Va.80
Kyle Early, Bridgeport, Pa.80
(a) Stephen Barry, Mullica Hill, N.J.80
(a) Ian Natale, Blue Bell, Pa.81
(a) Riley Ruby, Atlanta, Ga.82
Jason Uibel, Lumberton, N.J.83
(a) Stephen Burek, Williamstown, N.J.83
(a) Brent Glah, Ambler, Pa.83
(a) Jeremy Harper, Mountain Top, Pa.84
(a) Matthew Petrowski, Burlington, N.J.84
Rick Burk, Ashburn, Va.84
(a) Alex Durelli, Philadelphia, Pa.85
(a) Colin Hoy, Harleysville, Pa.88
(a) Rich Owsik, Bryn Mawr, Pa.88
Omar Sallah, Gambia92
Zachary Oakley, King of Prussia, Pa.WD
(a) Scott Ehrlich, Berwyn, Pa.WD
(a) Mark Grilli, Philadelphia, Pa.NC
(a) Joshua Krumholz, Reading, Pa.DNF
* – determined in a playoff
WD – withdraw
NS – no show
DNF – did not finish

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