ARDMORE, PA (June 15, 2016) -- In the Amateur’s return to Merion’s historic East Course, the golf gods have served up a Championship Match of epic proportions. Two of the Association’s most decorated players of the last decade plus, Michael McDermott and Jeff Osberg, advanced to Saturday’s 36-hole Final in the 116th playing of the BMW Philadelphia Amateur Championship.
McDermott, already a two-time Amateur champion (2008, 2013), is striving to become only the eighth player to own three or more J. Wood Platt trophies. Osberg, who edged McDermott last year in the William Hyndman, III Player of the Year race, took the 2014 Amateur title in historic fashion. He defeated Nelson Hargrove in a record result of 10&9. Osberg, too, is looking to join a rare group to possess more than one Amateur title.
Add in the fact that this is the first Amateur Championship in 62 years to visit the hallowed grounds on Ardmore Avenue and the stakes couldn’t be any higher.
“I am excited for Saturday,” said Osberg, 31, of Huntingdon Valley Country Club and Bryn Mawr, Pa. “Last year, we both hoped that it would happen at Llanerch [Country Club]. Unfortunately, for me I met Michael a little too early last year and I was not on the good end of that match-up.”
Last year, the duo provided a preview of what may come, clashing in the Round of 16. In a high-quality match of former Llanerch club champions, McDermott won 2-up. More than 100 people spectated.
“We’ve referenced this a lot. Jeff has become a good friend of mine over the last couple of years,” said McDermott, 41, of Bryn Mawr, Pa. “When we played at Llanerch last year, I said before the match and after the match that Jeff is the best player in Philadelphia. He is. He was then. He is today. And he will be on Saturday. That doesn’t mean I can’t win. I have to be ready to bring it. I will have my hands full.”
McDermott, a Merion member, is a nine-time Golf Association of Philadelphia Major winner and five-time Player of the Year. Osberg has won four Major organization titles since 2010. Last fall, the two actually joined forces and qualified for the U.S. Amateur Four-Ball Championship. However, neither played particularly well at Winged Foot Golf Club a few weeks ago and the duo missed the cut.
There will be no secrets on Saturday.
“We’ve talked a lot the last year about how much fun it would have been to have 36 holes last year,” said Osberg. “We have what we wished for.”
Added McDermott, “We’ve spent time at Winged Foot together. And he’s [even] my accountant. We’ve become close on a variety of levels.”
It was a winding road to the Final for both. McDermott needed two extra holes to defeat 2004 Amateur Champion Scott Ehrlich of Five Ponds Golf Club in a morning quarterfinal matchup. In the semis, he drew a familiar foe in Aronimink Golf Club’s Michael Davis. The two met in the quarters last year; a match Davis won in 20 holes.
McDermott, like last year, sprinted to a 3-up lead on the rising Princeton University junior. That advantage was down to 1-up when McDermott parred No. 15 (par 4, 420 yards) for the win after Davis, 20, of Newtown Square, Pa., found the front greenside bunker. The two halved No. 16 (par 4, 424 yards) to make McDermott dormie before both registered fantastic, improbable chips on No. 17 (par 3, 244 yards) to card pars. A score good enough for a McDermott win.
Osberg stopped a talented Gregor Orlando of Philadelphia Cricket Club, 3&1, in the quarterfinals before upending another former Llanerch clubmate, Stephen Seiden, 5&3 in the semis.
“I’ve played a lot of golf with Steve,” said Osberg. “I thought this course was suited perfectly for him. I knew it was going to be an extremely difficult match. I felt very fortunate to make a few key putts. That’s what separated us today.”
Who will separate on Saturday? Only the golf gods know.
Semifinals5. Jeff Osberg, Huntingdon Valley CC, d. 8. Stephen Seiden, Llanerch CC, 5&3.3. Michael McDermott, Merion GC, d. 7. Michael Davis, Aronimink GC, 2&1.
Quarterfinals8. Seiden d. 16. Jay Whitby, Wild Quail G&CC, 21 holes.5. Osberg d. 20. Gregor Orlando, Philadelphia Cricket Club, 3&1.7. Davis d. 15. R.J. Wren, Applecross CC, 4&2.3. McDermott d. 11. Scott Ehrlich, Five Ponds GC, 20 holes.
View results for BMW Philadelphia Amateur Championship