Jun 06, 2008

Whitemarsh Valley CC’s Centennial adds to historic 108th Amateur Championship

  History and the game of golf in the Philadelphia area go hand-in-hand. And when 123 of the area’s top amateur golfers take to Whitemarsh Valley CC and Philadelphia Cricket Club (qualifying only) for the 108th running of the Golf Association of Philadelphia’s Amateur Championship on June 10, you have a recipe to add yet another chapter to Philadelphia’s on-going golf tale.

Befitting the magnitude of the event, Whitemarsh Valley CC, who will play host to the entire match-play portion of the event, celebrates it’s centennial in 2008 with the Amateur Championship, marking the 15th time the Montgomery County club has staged the contest.

 Ironically enough, players from Whitemarsh Valley hold 13 Amateur Championships, with the Trophy’s namesake, J. Wood Platt, laying claim to seven of them.

  Defending champion Phil “P.J.” Bartholomew, the first and only Yardley CC member to have his name engraved on the prestigious J. Wood Platt Championship trophy, looks to repeat as champion.

  “Winning the Am. again would be a fantastic start to the summer,” said the soon-to-be Junior at Elon University. “Repeating would be great. That’s the goal. I just have to go out there and play the way I know I can, let the birdie barrage begin and hopefully I’ll be holding that trophy again.”

  But winning at the historic club is not going to be easy, especially with the number of top competitors gunning for the same title.

  Among those poised to dethrone Bartholomew is Michael McDermott of Merion GC, arguably the hottest player on the GAP circuit. McDermott is riding high off an impressive win at the silver anniversary of the Middle-Amateur Championship where he came away with his third Mid-Am. title.

  “Hanging in there during two extremely challenging days at Fieldstone GC helped to build confidence for the rest of the GAP season,” said McDermott on whether or not winning the Mid-Am. gives him momentum coming into the Amateur.

  The Mid-Am. champ, 2007 Player of the Year, defending Patterson Cup champ and, oh yeah, the 2007 Silver Cross winner looks to become the first player to win the Amateur and the Mid-Amateur in the same season.

  “I am not thinking about that at all,” said McDermott of possibly making history. “You want to win the event no matter what the prior tourney results were. And despite some close calls, I have not yet won an Amateur, so I have extra incentive to try to win this one.”

  So while McDermott and the rest of the field try to win one on the George C. Thomas Jr., designed course, history looks on as another Amateur tries to leave his mark on the same track that has played host to some of golf’s greatest names. Players the likes of Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus, Tom Weiskopf and Tom Kite have all won at Whitemarsh Valley when the PGA Tour paid a visit to the club and even the legendary Ben Hogan has gone down in history describing the club as “one of the great golf courses.”

  “I never knew anything about [Whitemarsh Valley’s history] until I read the article in the Golf Association of Philadelphia Magazine,” Bartholomew said. “It’s just great to be able to play a course that some of the top names in golf history have played. I look forward to it.”

  The 108th Amateur Championship is scheduled for June 10-12 with the 36-hole final set for Saturday, June 14. Qualifying on the first day is 36 holes, 18 at each course (Whitemarsh Valley CC and Philadelphia Cricket Club – Wissahickon). The low 31 finishers and defending champion advance into the match play draw.

  First- and second-round matches are set for June 11 and the quarterfinals and semifinals are scheduled for June 12. The final begins at 8 a.m. that Saturday morning.

  In addition to determining the match play field, the Amateur Championship Qualifier also serves as first two rounds of the Silver Cross Award.

  The public and media are welcome.

  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 136 Member Clubs and 56,000 individual members are spread across parts of Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware and Maryland. The purpose of the Association is simple: To promote, protect and preserve the game of golf in the region.

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