ARDMORE, PA (June 14, 2016) -- In a tight, tense duel of recent champions, Michael McDermott eked out a 20-hole victory over Cole Berman in a scintillating BMW Philadelphia Amateur Championship Round of 16 match at Merion Golf Club (East). McDermott, a two-time winner (2008, 2013) is striving to become only the eighth player to win three or more Amateur titles.
Berman was looking to be the first repeat Amateur winner since Chris Lange of Overbrook Golf Club in 1993-94.
The Berman-McDermott slugfest was the highlight of Day 1 of match play in the 116th BMW Philadelphia Amateur. McDermott’s title quest continues Wednesday in one of four quarterfinal contests. Those matches begin at 7:30 a.m. The semifinals immediately follow. The 36-hole final is slated for 7:30 a.m. on Saturday.
McDermott’s next foe is also another former Amateur Champion, Scott Ehrlich of Five Ponds Golf Club (2004). Their quarterfinal match is set for 7:52 a.m.
“It was as tight a match as I can ever remember playing,” said McDermott, a Merion member. “The match was just square the whole day. It was just great golf, a couple of good saves by each of us, a couple of good birdies … It’s what this tournament is all about. He’s such a fierce competitor. It was a fun memorable match win or lose.”
Said Berman, a Philadelphia Cricket Club member, “[There are] almost no words for it. It’s all you can ask for. It was really close the whole time. It was a great finish. Someone had to lose, sadly it was me. At the end of the day, as far as the match goes, you couldn’t ask for a better ending.”
The ending came on the second playoff hole, No. 2 (par 5, 522 yards). Berman, a rising junior at Georgetown University, was 49 yards short of the green in two shots but watched his approach stop 30 feet from the hole. McDermott ripped his second shot from 235 yards with a 4-iron to just short and left of the green. His ensuing chip stopped two feet from the hole. Berman’s birdie putt rimmed the right side of the cup and stayed out. A gallery of 50 people or so congratulated the two with a smattering of applause.
“I fully expected him to make it,” said McDermott, 41, of Bryn Mawr, Pa. “I was only surprised it didn’t go in.”
The match was never more than a hole difference the entire distance.
Berman took a 1-up lead with wins on No. 14 (par 4, 419 yards) and No. 15 (par 4, 418 yards). A par and a birdie pushed the pendulum in his favor. However, McDermott answered immediately with par on No. 16 (par 4, 426 yards) to draw back All Square. The two halved holes from there on out. McDermott’s short game provided the ultimate difference; he got up-and-down on holes Nos. 17 thru 20.
McDermott finds himself in the same position he occupied 12 months ago, fresh off an intense victory over a talented foe. Ironically, last year it was also the then defending Amateur Champion, Jeff Osberg of Huntingdon Valley Country Club.
“I came off a win like this [against Jeff] and didn’t play as well the next day,” said McDermott. “So I want to just reset [this year] and forget what just happened. There are no easy matches in the quarterfinals.”
A short conversation ensued after the final hole. When asked of what was said, McDermott answered, “‘I told him I know we aren’t done.’” As in more tussles to follow.
Berman and McDermott each tussled with Michael Davis of Aronimink Golf Club a year ago.
McDermott fell to the rising Princeton University junior. Berman defeated Davis, his best friend, in the Amateur final.
This year, Davis remains focused on getting back into Championship contention.
“I’m hoping to get back to the Final. I want another crack at it,” said Davis, 20, of Newtown Square, Pa. “Obviously I was disappointed in my performance last year – I felt like I didn’t really give it my best day in the Final. But I was really happy to just be there last year. Tomorrow I’m hoping to get back out there, win some matches and give it all a go again.”
Davis defeated Carey Bina of Radnor Valley Country Club, 2&1, in the Round of 16 after opening with a 3&2 victory over Kyle Vance of the GAP Junior Players Club in the opener.
A name not seen before in the Amateur field before, Jay Whitby of Wild Quail Golf & Country Club, continues to make waves. Whitby, 29, of Wyoming, Del., earned a quarterfinal date with two victories on Wednesday.
Whitby, who advanced to Round 2 of the U.S. Mid-Amateur Championship last year, earned an exemption into the BMW Philadelphia Amateur Championship proper due to that performance. However, it wasn’t until a phone call from his father John with only two hours remaining before registration closed that Whitby thought to even compete in the Amateur.
“It’s pretty crazy,” said Whitby. “It’s been a lot of fun.”
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