Overbrook’s Mestre tops U.S. Senior Am. Qual.
AMBLER, Pa. — Oscar Mestre gradually arched his back, bent his knees and raised his right arm. The knee-knocking four-footer he needed to avoid a congested U.S. Senior Amateur Qualifying playoff dropped. So did his diaphragm.
“It felt like 20 feet. When I saw [my 25-footer for birdie] come up short, I had to take several deep breathes. I was sure I babied it into gimme range,” Mestre, 62, of Berwyn, Pa., said.
The Overbrook Golf Club member can breathe easy tonight. Mestre carded an even-par 71 to earn medalist honors in U.S. Senior Amateur Qualifying administered by GAP at Old York Road Country Club (par 71, 6,552 yards) Monday. He was the only individual who clinched a berth in regulation.
Lehigh Country Club’s Bob Beck, Pete DeTemple, the reigning Maryland State Golf Association Senior Champion, LuLu Country Club’s Glenn Smeraglio and LedgeRock Golf Club’s Chris Storck survived a tense 5-for-4 sudden-death playoff to advance. All finished regulation at 1-over-par 72.
The 67th U.S. Senior Amateur will take place Aug. 27-Sept. 1 at The Kittansett Club in Marion, Mass.
“Not to sound stupid, but you never know which one is going to be your last. It means a lot to get back there,” Mestre, who qualified for the U.S. Senior Amateur in 2019, said.
Mestre, who started on the back nine, birdied two of his first three holes to accelerate. Back-to-back 10-footers, no less. Mestre hit a pitching wedge 120 yards on No. 11 (par 4, 391 yards), a 52-degree wedge 95 yards on No. 12 (par 4, 354 yards).
“That helped me settle into the round. You’re always a little nervous no matter what,” Mestre said.
Then the wheels started skidding. On No. 16 (par 3, 202 yards), Mestre left a harmless rescue on the front fringe. A harmless leave on paper.
“My first putt, because of contour of the area, went straight up in the air and took a hard left, so I was left with a 20-footer for par. You can’t expect to make those too often,” Mestre said. “I kept my composure. There’s no easy putt around here.”
Fortunately for Mestre, he received a refresher of Old York Road’s formidable greens three days ago.
“[Member] Gregory Day was very gracious in hosting me [for a practice round]. He said to me, ‘You really want to come see [Old York Road] because they had redone some bunkers,’” Mestre said. “I think it helped a lot. You have a memory of it, but just to have a little more confidence for sure helps. Greg was helpful. He said, ‘All you want to do is get to that front edge here.’ I can’t tell you how many times I thought to myself today, ‘I’m not hitting it past that front edge.’”
It repeated in Mestre’s mind Monday. A pair of poor swings, however, temporarily disrupted the loop. Mestre needed to chip sideways on No. 2 (par 4, 340 yards) after driving it right behind a tree. Bogey. He blocked a 3-rescue on No. 5 (par 3, 212 yards) into jail. Bogey. A birdie on the next hole (par 4, 399 yards) reset Mestre, who serves as GAP President. He knocked a pitching wedge 120 yards to seven feet.
Perhaps Monday’s achievement will turn the tournament tide for Mestre, a two-time GAP Senior Player of the Year (2019, 2021). He classified the campaign to date as a disappointment.
“I personally feel because family, business, and GAP [responsibilities] had me running so much earlier in the year that my line was, ‘I have no reason to expect to be playing better than I was playing,’” he said. “But in the last month and a half, I’ve played a fair amount of competition. I’ve had a fair amount of testing of the game. You get one thing that kind of clicks. The patience, the calmness if you will to let good shots and good putts happen.”
Good things happen to Chris Storck when he tees it up at Old York Road lately. He won the Senior Flight in the club’s invitational last month. Storck, coincidentally, summoned that victory just to force his way into the overtime fray. He made good on a must-have birdie on No. 9, his final hole. Storck buried a fist-pumping 12-footer.
“Pulling into No. 9, I figured’ This has to go in.’ Ironically, I had the exact same putt in the Old York Road Invitational, and I knew what it did. I just had to get it to the hole. I was fortunate to make it,” Storck, 55, of Sinking Spring, Pa., said.
On No. 10 (par 4, 399 yards), the first playoff hole, Storck’s three-quarter wedge from 129 yards caught the edge of the grass greenside left. He eased a chip to five feet and advanced with a par. Storck will appear in his second USGA championship appearance. He previously qualified for the U.S. Mid-Amateur in 2014.
“I started looking forward to Senior golf and the opportunity to get back into a USGA event. It means a lot to be able to go,” Storck said.
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 Association’s 330 Member Clubs and 90,000 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, state||Score|
|Oscar Mestre, Berwyn, Pa.||71|
|*Bob Beck, Allentown, Pa.||72|
|*Peter DeTemple, Callaway, Md.||72|
|*Glenn Smeraglio, Ambler, Pa.||72|
|*Chris Storck, Sinking Spring, Pa.||72|
|Alternates (in order)|
|*Edward Kelly, Fernandina Beach, Fla.||72|
|Bill McGuinness, Haddonfield, N.J.||73|
|Failed to qualify|
|Thomas Brennan, Covington, La.||73|
|Bryan Marvin, Hatboro, Pa.||74|
|Robert Savarese, Scottsdale, Ariz.||74|
|Art Brunn, Hanover Township, Pa.||75|
|William Charpek, Red Bank, N.J.||75|
|Gary Daniels, Berwyn, Pa.||75|
|Kevin Kelly, Horsham, Pa.||75|
|John Nottage, Warminster, Pa.||75|
|Joe Roeder, Marlton, N.J.||75|
|Paul Rogowicz, Yardley, Pa.||75|
|Michael Tash, Thorofare, N.J.||75|
|David Blichar, Allentown, Pa.||76|
|Christopher Clauson, Philadelphia, Pa.||76|
|Mark Czerniakowski, Montgomeryville, Pa.||76|
|George Marucci, Jr., Villanova, Pa.||76|
|Robert Arthur, Marlton, N.J.||77|
|Chris Fieger, Denver, Pa.||77|
|Thomas Hyland, Marlton, N.J.||77|
|Mike Moffat, Horsham, Pa.||77|
|Carlos Ochoa, Marlton, N.J.||77|
|Brian Rothaus, Elkins Park, Pa.||77|
|Michael Vassil, Dalton, Pa.||77|
|Steve Walczak, Tequesta, Fla.||77|
|Kevin Wall, Ambler, Pa.||77|
|Byron Whitman, Reading, Pa.||77|
|Edward Armagost, National Park, N.J.||78|
|John Barry, Lancaster, Pa.||78|
|Michael Fagan, Conshohocken, Pa.||78|
|Kevin Haag, Hummelstown, Pa.||78|
|Thomas Humphrey, Rockland, Del.||78|
|Rick James, Doylestown, Pa.||78|
|Robert Spellman, Riegelsville, Pa.||78|
|Ronald Weaver, Lititz, Pa.||78|
|John Castleman, Devon, Pa.||79|
|Gregory Day, Fort Washington, Pa.||79|
|Thomas Egolf, Allentown, Pa.||79|
|Drew Forrester, Parkville, Md.||79|
|Larry Martone, Washington, D.C.||79|
|Robin McCool, Center Valley, Pa.||79|
|Mark McGowan, North Bergen, N.J.||79|
|Michael Quinn, Coatesville, Pa.||79|
|Ed Reidy, Gibsonia, Pa.||79|
|E Mason Rudolph Jr., Covington, La.||79|
|Tom Soares, Emmaus, Pa.||79|
|P. Chet Walsh, Wayne, Pa.||79|
|Daniel Brown, Cleona, Pa.||80|
|Bill Davis, Newtown Square, Pa.||80|
|John Gosselin, Landenberg, Pa.||80|
|Brad Jankowski, Shamong, N.J.||80|
|William Jenner, Laplata, Md.||80|
|Drew Panebianco, Gwynedd Valley, Pa.||80|
|Rufino Rosal, Smyrna, Del.||80|
|Joseph Russo, Sewell, N.J.||80|
|Greg Buliga, Yardley, Pa.||81|
|John Lupica, Newtown, Pa.||81|
|Al Kline, Lewisburg, Pa.||82|
|Salvatore Picone, Easton, Pa.||82|
|Al Sala, Staten island, N.Y.||82|
|Bob Wurtz, Lafayette Hill, Pa.||82|
|Robert Allshouse, Greensburg, Pa.||83|
|Joseph Coulson, Coopersburg, Pa.||83|
|Tom DiCinti, Voorhees, N.J.||83|
|Andy Hydorn, Houston, Texas||83|
|Roc Irey, Furlong, Pa.||83|
|Rodney Stilwell, Staten Island, N.Y.||83|
|David West, Downingtown, Pa.||83|
|Brian Corbett, Clarks Summit, Pa.||84|
|Ronan Culligan, Washington Crossing, Pa.||84|
|Denis Darragh, Orefield, Pa.||84|
|Jim Gavaghan, Newtown, Pa.||84|
|Scott McIntosh, Philadelphia, Pa.||84|
|Darren Riddle, Harrisburg, Pa.||84|
|John Alterman, New Hope, Pa.||85|
|Stephen Boyd, Morristown, N.J.||85|
|Jorge Luis Herrera Ariza, Windermere, Fla.||85|
|Patrick Dougherty, North Wales, Pa.||86|
|Karl Beeson, Doylestown, Pa.||87|
|Robert Dietrich, Oxford, Pa.||87|
|Jeff Green, Zionsville, Pa.||87|
|Carl Kruse, Glenside, Pa.||87|
|James Prendergast, Limerick, Pa.||87|
|Michael Sulewski, Broomall, Pa.||87|
|Robert Wiechecki, Garnet Valley, Pa.||87|
|Vince Yost, Harleysville, Pa.||87|
|Frank Corrado, Washington Crossing, Pa.||88|
|Rick Boucher, Nazareth, Pa.||89|
|Karl Brand, Colts Neck, N.J.||89|
|Joseph Buglio, Exton, Pa.||89|
|Bruce Hooper, Blakeslee, Pa.||89|
|Marlin Detweiler, Lake Wales, Fla.||92|
|Robert Falls, West Chester, Pa.||92|
|John Murphy, Millington, N.J.||94|
|Kevin Lambert, Chalfont, Pa.||106|
|John Manfredi, Margate City, N.J.||DNF|
|Daniel Sheehe, Cumberland, Md.||DNF|
|Bill Burke, Little Egg Harbor, N.J.||NC|
|Steve Harris, Kennett Square, Pa.||NC|
|Parker Weil, Ridgewood, N.J.||NC|
|Christian D’Annunzio, Oldwick, N.J.||NS|
|Robert Gill, Shavertown, Pa.||NS|
|* – determined in playoff|
|DNF – did not finish; NC – no card; NS – no show|