HUNTINGDON VALLEY, Pa. – It’s apropos Brian Colbert of White Manor Country Club resides in the Windy City. The 22-year-old recent Villanova University graduate took the Philadelphia golf scene by storm this week, going from unheralded medalist to Amateur Champion in a mere five days. Colbert disposed of Princeton University junior Greg Jarmas of the Philadelphia Publinks Golf Association, 6&4, in the 112th Amateur Championship Final on a chamber of commerce weather Saturday at Huntingdon Valley Country Club.
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Colbert became the first Amateur medalist to go wire-to-wire, per se, since Bill McGuinness of Tavistock Country Club turned the feat in 1996. He is also the first White Manor CC member to capture the Association’s most prestigious trophy, the J. Wood Platt Trophy. The legendary Allan Sussel represented White Manor in the 1953 and 1964 final but fell both times.
“It’s a great honor. I consider myself a part of this city. I’ve been here for four years,” said Colbert, who is set to return to Chicago in the fall to begin his business career. “There are so many great players in the area and so much history. You think about the guys who are on that trophy, Buddy Marucci, Chip Lutz, [James] Kania, [Sr.] and Jay Sigel. I’m thrilled.”
Said Jarmas, “It was an awesome week. It was great to play well. I beat a lot of really great players. You have to give all the credit to Brian, he played great. He didn’t let me get away with anything.”
Colbert previewed the day to come when he opened the Final in a flurry, winning the first three holes. He knocked a lob wedge from 82 yards on No. 1 (par 4, 381 yards) to 12-feet and made birdie; took No. 2 (par 4, 447 yards) after Jarmas drove his tee shot left and never recovered; and won No. 3 (par 3, 232 yards) by rolling in a 20-foot par saver. A Jarmas bunker hole-out for eagle on No. 4 (par 4, 305 yards) cut Colbert’s lead to 2-up, but that was as close as the 20-year-old Wynnewood, Pa. resident would get.
Colbert, who converted every timely putt he needed, canned a 10-foot comebacker for par on No. 8 (par 4, 405 yards) to move 3-up when Jarmes missed a six-foot par try to halve. On No. 9 (par 4, 460 yards), Jarmes again went left off the tee – a common theme in the first 18 holes – and Colbert dunked a smooth 25-footer up the hill to move 4-up at the turn.
“It was definitely the start I was looking for,” said Colbert. “I was three up before I could even blink an eye. The whole time I wanted to keep pressing the gas pedal. I didn’t want to get lazy out there. That can happen when you get a big lead. You can get too conservative and start giving away holes. I had to stay focused out there. My goal was to keep going.”
He did just that.
Colbert saved par from inside the upslope of the No. 11 (par 4, 377 yards) creek after spinning his approach all the way from the back of the green to go 5-up when his opponent missed a 15-footer high. On No. 12 (par 4, 421 yards), Colbert dropped a pitching wedge from 125 yards to two feet for birdie. Jarmas found the left rough off the tee and could manage only par.
The former Lower Merion High School standout cut the deficit to four after winning the next two holes, but Colbert rolled home a six-foot par save on No. 15 (par 5, 565 yards) to match Jarmas and won the next two holes to move 6-up.
On No. 16 (par 4, 401 yards), Colbert’s second shot, a 5-iron, found the green 30-feet short of the hole where as Jarmas’ approach landed long. Jarmas’ chip ran across the width of the green, left to right, and both players stared at 25 footers. Colbert’s first roll traveled eight feet past. Jarmas’ bogey was conceded after putting his first try tight. Colbert responded by dropping the tricky eight-foot, right-to-left breaker for par to move 5-up. On No. 17 (par 3, 212 yards), his 4-iron landed six-feet right of the flag. Jarmas found the right bunker and never challenged. Colbert completed the first round 6-up.
“I didn’t want to stop. I was playing well,” said Colbert of the lead. “I always like to consider [the putter] a strength of mine. Today [the greens] were a lot faster than they were earlier in the week. I made some nice comebackers and mid-range putts. When I play well I make those mid-range putts.”
“I was definitely a little bit tight early,” said Jarmas, who was bidding to become the first public golfer to win the Association’s signature event. “I never really settled in. Being 6-down after the morning was too big to overcome.”
Colbert and Jarmas each won two holes on the front nine of the second 18. Colbert was 6-up with nine holes to play and went dormie five on the back side before securing the trophy on the 14th green.
“Having a Villanovan win the J. Wood Platt Trophy is incredible,” said Jim Wilkes, Villanova University’s golf coach who caddied for Colbert. “For me, it gave me a chance to be with Brian for one more week. As a captain and a leader for the Wildcats it’s really special to be on the golf course with him for one more week. It’s not surprising he played well. Maybe playing so well, medalist going wire-to-wire was a little surprising but he’s a super talented kid.”
By virtue of the victory, Colbert earned an exemption into the Open Championship this July at venerable Pine Valley Golf Club.
“I played their once,” said Colbert. “I look forward to testing my game against the same amateurs and some of the best pros in the Philadelphia area. I look forward to the challenge.”
Founded in 1897, the Golf Association of Philadelphia (GAP) is the oldest regional golf association in the United States and serves as the principal ruling body of amateur golf in its region. Its 145 Member Clubs and 57,000 individual members are spread across parts of Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware and Maryland. As Philadelphia’s Most Trusted Source of Golf Information, the Golf Association of Philadelphia’s mission is to promote, preserve and protect the game of golf.
NOTES-The last time Huntingdon Valley CC hosted an Amateur Championship was 1960 when John Guenther, Jr. of Berkshire Country Club defeated home-grown Linc Roden, III, 2&1.
1. Brian Colbert, White Manor CC, d. 14. Greg Jarmas, Philadelphia Publinks GA, 6&4.