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

May 02, 2024

U.S. Open Local Qualifying: York

Kennett Square’s Gross garners medal

YORK, Pa. — Tying course records translates into tournament wins and qualifying tickets for Nicholas Gross.

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The Kennett Square Golf & Country Club member tied the competitive course record (62) at LedgeRock Golf Club Monday en route to victory in the Pennsylvania Golf Association’s George Dressler Memorial Championship. He turned the same trick Thursday at Country Club of York (par 70, 6,679 yards).

Gross, 17, of Downingtown, Pa., carded a 7-under-par 63 to earn medalist honors in U.S. Open Local Qualifying administered by GAP at York. In doing so, he tied the club’s competitive course record, shared by Ken Rohrbough, Jr. and Max Siegfried.

Gross, along with amateur Casper Nerpin and professionals Joey Medora of Bethesda, Md. and Winton Munch of St. Petersburg, Fla., advanced to U.S. Open Final Qualifying.

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.

“I wanted to play [in the Dressler] to kind of play my way into this, to try and make sure the game was good,” Gross, a senior at Downingtown West High School, said. “I played a practice round yesterday and continued that momentum. I felt really good. And today, I was 4 under through five. I was hitting it well, and the putts were falling.”

In 54 holes played between the Dressler and U.S. Open Local Qualifying, Gross carded 23 birdies and an eagle. Wow.

Starting on the back nine, Gross drove No. 10 (par 4, 331 yards) green and tallied two putts from 40 feet for birdie. He drained a delicate downhill 30-footer on No. 11 (par 4, 427 yards) following a solid wedge from 116 yards. Gross fired back-to-back birdies on Nos. 13 (par 4, 308 yards) and 14 (par 5, 525 yards): a wedge 86 yards to 25 feet on the former, a two-putt from 35 feet following a fluid 5-iron from 225 yards.

“My distance control was really good. My speed control was really good,” Gross, who will attend the University of Alabama in the fall, said. “I got some really good reads from [caddie] Rob Coyne, so we working really well today. On both of those long putts, he had really good lines on them. They ended up going in.”

Gross met Coyne a decade ago at Applecross Country Club, where the latter previously served as an assistant golf professional. Coyne later coached Gross at Downingtown West for three seasons (2021-22). The player/caddie relationship began in 2021.

“We have a really good bond. We trust each other,” Gross said.

That trust appeared evident at every York turn. Conversations between Gross and Coyne flowed like the nearby Susquehanna River. A missed putt, a reassuring pat on the back. A made putt, a fist bump. Coyne put his arm around Gross on No. 9 (par 4, 479 yards) green, minutes before a five-footer for birdie took centerstage. Gross capitalized on his stellar 8-iron from 169 yards there. He embraced Coyne afterwards.

That birdie punctuated conversions on Nos. 5 (par 4, 393 yards) and 6 (par 3, 174 yards). On the former, Gross lifted a pitching wedge 138 yards to 12 feet. He converted a left-to-right breaking 12-footer.

“I played [in U.S. Open Local Qualifying] here two years ago. I played pretty well, but it didn’t fall my way. I felt like knowing the golf course was important and would help me in the long run,” Gross, who reached the quarterfinals in the 2021 U.S. Amateur, said. “I think I made the right decision. Hopefully I can bottle the last few days up and remember this for the rest of the year. I did exactly what I needed to and proved to myself I could do it. Remember the feelings I had so I can do it more.”

Gross will head to Canoe Brook Country Club in Summit, N.J. for U.S. Open Final Qualifying on June 3. He reached that stage a year ago, but slid out of contention with five holes remaining.

If Gross doesn’t succeed this year, then he will head overseas to compete in the R&A Amateur Championship June 17-24 at Ballyliffin in Donegal, Ireland. His upcoming itinerary also includes the North & South Men’s Championship, the Trans-Mississippi Amateur and the U.S. Junior Amateur. Oh, and representing Kennett Square in the BMW GAP Team Matches.

“I took my time off during the winter, and now I’m trying to get ready for college, playing in amateur events against the competition I’ll see in college or at a higher level. That’s the way we approached it when planning a schedule this summer. Play against the best and sharpen my game,” Gross said.

Munch, 29, of St. Petersburg, Fla., carded a 4-under-par 66 to finish second. He makes York a homecoming of sorts. His girlfriend, Ailey Pestcoe, has family in nearby Lancaster, Pa.

“It’s one of those, ‘I have a place to stay. I can see some family.’ I like being one of the few people from Florida to come up to a spot in the country where everyone is coming out of the winter. I like Donald Ross. I like bent grass. It’s the best of both worlds.”

Patience allowed Munch, a touring professional who frequents Korn Ferry Monday qualifiers, to advance to U.S. Open Final Qualifying for the second time (2021) in his career.

“I hit a lot of good putts that didn’t go in. I had to stay within myself today and know that it wasn’t going to be a super deep number,” Munch said.

Medora is an assistant professional at Congressional Country Club in Bethesda, Md. Nerpin is a sophomore at the University of Delaware.

GAP will next administer U.S. Open Local Qualifying on May 6 at Union League Liberty Hill in Lafayette Hill, Pa.

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
(a) Nicholas Gross, Downingtown, Pa.63
Winton Munch, St. Petersburg, Fla.66
Joey Medora, Bethesda, Md.67
(a) Casper Nerpin, Sweden67
Alternates (in order)
*Kevin Kraft, Dillsburg, Pa.68
*(a) Max Siegfried, Villanova, Pa.68
Failed to qualify
Conor McGrath, Huntingdon Valley, Pa.69
(a) Jeffrey Homer, Wilmington, Del.69
Connor Schmidt, Venetia, Pa.69
Cole Miller, New Tripoli, Pa.69
Nicholas Iacono, Wilmington, Del.70
(a) Garrett Engle, Harrisburg, Pa.70
(a) Caden Blanchette, Manchester, Pa.70
(a) Benjamin Smith, Blain, Pa.70
(a) Elliot Parker, Cranford, N.J.71
Daniel Griffiths, Binghamton, N.Y.71
(a) Scott Pugh, Harrisburg, Pa.71
(a) Michael Matheson, Norfolk, Mass.71
(a) Evan Barbin, Elkton, Md.71
(a) Dylan Ramsey, Lebanon, Pa.71
Jeff Berkshire, Scottsdale, Ariz.72
(a) John Steinberg, Fairfield, Conn.72
(a) Michael R. Brown, Jr., Maple Shade Township, N.J.72
Stuart Fuller, Winston-Salem, N.C.72
Todd Vernon, Pittsburgh, Pa.72
(a) Ben Shields, Towson, Md.72
David Hilgers, Hershey, Pa.72
(a) Ike Joy, Denver, N.C.72
(a) Aaron Fricke, Denver, Pa.73
(a) Matthew Salter, Olney, Md.73
(a) Evan Sitts, Oneonta, N.Y.73
(a) David Palumbo, Breinigsville, Pa.73
(a) Joshua Ryan, Norristown, Pa.73
(a) Michael Najburg, France73
(a) Hayden Moffat, Spring City, Pa.73
(a) Peyton Mussina, Montoursville, Pa.74
(a) Patrick Kilcoyne, Belmont, Mass.74
(a) Matthew Homer, Wilmington, Del.74
Dylan Yoder, Lewisburg, Pa.74
Alex Hoffman, Frederick, Md.74
Alex Blickle, Reading, Pa.74
Dawson Anders, Telford, Pa.74
(a) Ryan Cass, Lawnside, N.J.74
(a) Joseph Morganti, Philadelphia, Pa.74
(a) Braden Anderson, Buhl, Idaho75
Grant Strawoet, Sterling, Va.75
(a) Jacob Fripp, Rincon, Ga.75
Kevin Benstead, Tampa, Fla.75
(a) Brock Kovach, Wyomissing, Pa.75
(a) Quin Covington, Cary, N.C.75
Anthony Schweppe, Republic of Ireland76
(a) Nathan Sutherland, Wyomissing, Pa.76
Jd Hughes, Orlando, Fla.76
(a) Nick Barrett, Catonsville, Md.76
(a) Ethan Saxe, Bangor, Pa.76
(a) Richard Riva, Philadelphia, Pa.77
Brian Buskirk, Lancaster, Pa.77
(a) Shepard Stevens, North Haven, Conn.77
Mike Furey, Emmaus, Pa.77
(a) Thomas O’connell, Wellesley, Mass.78
(a) Jai Sheth, Rockville, Md.78
(a) Alexander Kim, Conshohocken, Pa.79
(a) Brett Rote, Mount Joy, Pa.79
(a) Will Wears, Baltimore, Md.80
(a) Ian Masenheimer, Orefield, Pa.80
Brady Benton, Accident, Md.80
(a) Tyler Fortney, Waynesboro, Pa.81
(a) Ian Patterson, Chambersburg, Pa.81
Christopher Dymek, Brielle, N.J.81
(a) Brandon Wilson, Perry Hall, Md.81
Greg Rhoads, Elizabethtown, Pa.81
Michael Ferguson, Yardley, Pa.85
(a) Rick Mellendick, Baltimore, Md.92
Jeff Snyder, Nellysford, Va.DNF
(a) Andrew Hwang, McLean, Va.NS
(a) Christopher Dolan, New Haven, Conn.WD
(a) Rij Patel, Hunt Valley, Md.WD
(a) — denotes amateur; * — determined in playoff
DNF — did not finish; NS — no show; WD — withdrawal

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