Wacky opening week of GAP Team Matches - The Golf Association of Philadelphia

Apr 11, 2014

Wacky opening week of GAP Team Matches

  A title defense, a battle in South Jersey and a pair of wild halves highlighted Week One of the GAP Team Matches.
  With steady sunshine and pleasant spring temperatures as a backdrop, defending champion Philadelphia Cricket Club remains at the forefront in the GTM conversation; it dominated Laurel Creek Country Club, 40-14. Rob Savarese, Philadelphia Cricket’s captain, classified the day as “nerve-wracking.”
  “We had such a short spring to prepare and get guys playing,” he said. “I know everybody’s in the same boat, but I think with the added pressure of wanting to win again, I knew our guys were anxious to do well. You just never know how you’re going to perform until you’re in the middle of match, and our guys did a great job yesterday.”
  Philadelphia Cricket swept the better-ball portion at home en route to a 22-point total. Kevin Kelly and Sean Sementz led the road squad by posting three points apiece in the singles portion.
  As team captain, Savarese is charged with setting line-ups and determining who plays at home and on the road. He placed himself on Philadelphia Cricket’s second team, which defeated RiverCrest Golf Club & Preserve, 44.50-9.50.
  “I had this constant argument with myself all week. ‘What are you doing? You set the team and you demoted yourself?’” “Savarese said. “It really gets back to the fact that we had very little time to prepare and to quantify who was playing well and who wasn’t so I thought, being the leader of the group, that I would sacrifice myself just to give us another week to evaluate everybody. It was hard. It worked out.”
  In a Section 2 battle in South Jersey, Little Mill Country Club edged Tavistock Country Club, 29-25, with that four-point margin coming from the first. Newcomer Vincent Kwon led Little Mill’s home charge with three singles points.
  “He’s a really big pick up. The kid is a hard-worker,” James Arsenault, Little Mill’s captain, said. “It was a tough day [at Little Mill]. The greens were hard; they weren’t holding. The wind started howling halfway through, and on that course, you can’t really tell where it’s coming from because it’s just cut out of the pine trees. The course played tough, and so did Tavistock.”
  Little Mill salvaged a half at Tavistock, which allowed the two-time GAP Team Matches champions to claim victory standing on its home merits.
  “That was an important one to win, and boy we just eked it out,” Arsenault said. “Tavistock and Little Mill have an interesting relationship. We all know each other, and it’s a little back-and-forth.”
  And in a GAP Team Matches rarity, Division AA featured not one but two halves: Commonwealth National Golf Club and Overbrook Golf Club in Section 2, Back Creek Golf Club and Yardley Country Club in Section 4. In the first, ties from both sites resulted in an overall deadlock.
  “With the line-up that they sent our way, we’re pretty happy with pulling off a tie at home,” Brett Diakon, Commonwealth National’s captain, said. “I know that’s never the game plan, but they sent a pretty strong team.”
  “A tie, in retrospect, keeps us alive, which is important,” Oscar Mestre, Overbrook’s captain, said. “A tie is not a death sentence, whereas a loss usually is.”
  Playing without stalwarts Chris Lange and Ray Thompson, Overbrook still stood strong at home. Lineup linchpins Andy Thompson and Brad and Francis McFadden accounted for 7.5 of its 13.5 points. Commonwealth National fared well in turbulent waters in matching that point total.
  “Anytime we can get some points at Overbrook and get some good play out of our guys, especially some of our experienced veterans, certainly helps,” Diakon said. “We knew it was going to be close. They have so much firepower, and especially at home, they have so many guys who can defend that golf course. We would have liked to get a half point more, but would have been devastated to get half a point less.”
  The road squads earned their keep in the Back Creek-Yardley match-up. Both posted 15 points against 12 from their home counterparts. Yardley’s Sean Clifford and Mike Lam, playing in the No. 5 and 6 spots, respectively, shined at Back Creek, earning three singles points apiece and three in the better-ball portion. Lam recorded two eagles.
  “Considering we weren’t fully loaded this week and everyone’s kind of rusty, a half is definitely better than a loss,” Chris Ault, Yardley’s captain, said. “You are still sort of in control of your own destiny. If Back Creek and Yardley won out, it would come down to points. You don’t really need any help from anyone else. We got through the week we were going to be at weakest as far as players go.”
  Ault, the reigning Pennsylvania Golf Association Amateur Champion, fell in his singles match against Jay Whitby, the reigning Delaware State Golf Association Open Champion. The Back Creek pairing of Charles McClaskey, a two-time GAP Super-Senior Player of the Year, and Greg Wolfe spearheaded its road effort by reeling off five singles points and three in the better-ball. Buddy Reed, Back Creek’s captain, also represented the away team at Yardley.
  “I had a blast up there. It was one of the more entertaining matches I’ve been involved in,” he said. “In our match, we had six holes in a row that were birdied, and one was halved with a birdie. It was a back-and-forth.”
  A Reed three-putt on No. 18, however, prevented him and teammate Warren Smith from seizing a crucial half in the better-ball portion.
  “I walked off the 18th green telling my partner Warren ‘We just cost us the match. I guarantee it,’” Reed said. “We started doing all the numbers, and it was a tie, 15-12, at both places.”
  The GAP Team Matches head into a bye week of sorts because of Easter Sunday. Philadelphia Cricket will continue its repeat bid April 27 when it competes against Huntingdon Valley Country Club (0-1). Savarese will be a part of that contest.
  “I couldn’t live with my captain another two weeks,” he said.
  In a match-up for Section II supremacy, Little Mill faces fellow unbeaten Merion Golf Club, which defeated Mercer Oaks Golf Course in Week One. Overbrook takes on Jericho National Golf Club (0-1) and Commonwealth collides with Glenmaura National Golf Club (1-0).
  “We, in theory and on paper, should get stronger,” Mestre said. “With two weeks until the next competition, everybody will have an opportunity to get their games to where they would feel more confident in their ability to perform.”
  In Section IV, Back Creek opposes Aronimink Golf Club while Yardley squares off against Fox Hill Country Club (0-1).

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