VILLANOVA, PA (July 11, 2016) -- Chris Lange knows a thing or two about Overbrook Golf Club. His illustrious playing career, which includes three BMW Philadelphia Amateur Championship titles and the GAP career grand slam achievement, suggests he knows a thing or two about winning golf tournaments.
A forced hiatus from the game due to injuries became a harsh reality until recently, but make no mistake about it -- Lange is back. The two-time William Hyndman, III Player of the Year returned to Association action with a statement on Monday at his home club (par 70, 6,448 yards) when he earned a share of stroke-play qualifying medalist honors in the Brewer Cup presented by Callaway Golf, alongside Lookaway Golf Club’s Roc Irey, thanks to an even-par- 70.
“I haven’t played [golf] in a long time. I’ve only started playing again these past 30 days or so,” said Lange, who underwent hip surgery two-plus years ago and right knee surgery last December. “I’m really happy to have gotten out here again, and to have played in a GAP event today.”
It was a champion-like string of birdies that earned Lange a share of the day’s leading honor. The 61-year-old birdied four of his last six holes. It began on the par 4, 381-yard 13th – one that Lange knows better than most. He played his tee shot to the 12th fairway, setting himself up with a perfect angle to a hole located on the left. Lange placed his approach wedge to two feet from 106 yards out and tapped in for birdie. On No. 14 (par 4, 305 yards), Lange’s sand wedge approach stopped 10 feet from the cup. He made that birdie attempt as well.
His hot streak didn’t stop there. On No. 17 (par 4, 357 yards), his 8-iron from 136 yards out landed within seven feet of the cup. Lange snuck that birdie attempt over the front lip. It was much of the same on the closing hole (par 4, 380 yards). Lange’s 8-iron, again, this time from 140 yards, was the weapon of choice that settled to six feet. Another birdie fell for Lange to get him back to even.
Despite the injuries, and having not playing much golf as of late, it’s no surprise to anyone that Lange found success at his home club – one he has called home for 55 years.
“I grew up here. My dad was a member here, my son is a member here, all my nephews and nieces are as well. We’ve had a huge family that’s always been here,” said Lange, who holds six club championships to his name. “Since 1986, I’ve lived on the other side of the 13th tee.”
Lange’s GAP playing resume is rivaled by few. He is a three-time Amateur Champion (1984, 1993-94), three-time Patterson Cup (1989, 1994, 1999) Champion, two-time Middle-Amateur Champion (1995-96) and Open Champion (2004). Those four championships comprise the Golf Association of Philadelphia’s Majors schedule – the Grand Slam.
Although he took the 2010 Senior Amateur title at Sunnybrook Golf Club, Lange has never won a Brewer Cup. In fact, the last time he has competed in the event was six years ago. He hopes to change that this week seeded as the top player heading into match play.
“I feel like going out and practicing to keep this good mojo going,” said Lange, of Villanova, Pa. “I’m looking forward to playing in match play the rest of the week where anything can happen.”
Irey, last year’s Senior Silver Cross winner, was also impressive on the day.
His even-par round was highlighted by a chip-in eagle on No. 12 (par 5, 512 yards) and a kick-in birdie on No. 15 (par 3, 166 yards).
Despite his share of medalist honors, a looming business meeting on Tuesday forced Irey to pull his name out of match play.
“I’d love to be in match play but unfortunately I can’t. But hey, I’ve played in enough [Brewer Cups] before,” said Irey, 64, of Furlong, Pa. “I came out here to have fun today with my two buddies and that’s what we did.”
The Senior Division’s cut line stopped at 76. A 6-for-1 playoff decided the last seed, which went to Honeybrook Golf Club's Craig Kliewer. Match play in the Senior Division will begin tomorrow at 8 a.m.
SUPER SENIOR DIVSION
Robin McCool of Saucon Valley Country Club is a Brewer Cup force. Jay Ward of Cedarbrook Country Club is hoping to become one. The two claimed co-medalist honors in the ninth Brewer Cup presented by Callaway Golf at Overbrook Golf Club (par 70, 5,928 yards) on Monday.
McCool has his named etched on the Brewer Cup twice, winning the event in 2010 and 2013. Ward appears in just his third tournament, named after the Golf Association of Philadelphia legend.
“To tell you the truth, we just moved here from the San Francisco-area four years ago,” Ward said. “The first year I played in this event was three years ago. I didn’t really know who O. Gordon Brewer, Jr. was. I tried to qualify at a course I had never played at and I didn’t. I saw O. Gordon Brewer Jr.’s name up there, he shot like 76 or something. Last year, I met Gordon up at Saucon and he’s a great guy.”
Due to order of scorecard return, Ward earned the No. 1-overall seed and will face Daniel Burton of Lancaster Country Club, while McCool took the No. 2 seed and will take on John Owens of Tavistock Country Club.
In 2015, Ward reached the quarterfinals at Saucon Valley, before losing to eventual champion Don Donatoni in a 21-hole thriller. The 67-year-old used last year’s experience, as well as a heavy dose of play over the last couple of days, to his advantage coming into this year’s event.
“I played good last year. I had played 36 holes yesterday cause we had our club championship,” said Ward. “I qualified on Saturday and then I won my morning round. And then I had to go out and play again yesterday afternoon. I didn’t know how my body would take it today, so that’s why I’m really happy. I played well.”
Ward didn’t get off to a great start, however. He bounced back from a double bogey on No. 11 (par 4, 406 yards), his second hole, with a birdie on No. 12 (par 5, 450 yards). Ward bashed a 3-wood from 213 yards into a greenside bunker. He proceeded to get up-and-down after splashing out to four feet.
“I had two three-putts in the first four holes,” Ward said. “So, I didn’t start off that good. I three-putted 11 and 13. Other than that, it was a pretty standard round.”
Despite top names filling the brackets, Ward looks at match play with the same mindset he would during any other round.
“There are some incredible players here that are 65 and older. I don’t really have any expectations. It’s kind of like when I’m playing, just take it one shot at a time. Try to hit fairways and greens."
McCool also comes into the season’s second Major having a recent spell of great play.
“I’ve been hitting the ball really well,” McCool, 65, said. “I came into this tournament feeling pretty good about things.”
On No. 1 (par 4, 346 yards), McCool proved that after hitting a knock-down 8-iron from 130 yards to eight feet.
The rest of the Bethlehem, Pa. native’s front nine was a bit bumpy, with three bogeys coming on No. 4 (par 4, 385 yards), No. 5 (par 5, 491 yards) and No. 7 (par 3, 183 yards). But McCool righted the ship with consistent play on the back nine, including seven-straight pars on Nos. 12-18.
“On three holes today, I played what I thought was an uphill shot and it ended up over the green,” So, I finally learned my lesson and on the back nine I was better. In this kind of a round, all you’re trying to do is make a lot of pars anyway. I guess mission accomplished.”
His extensive Golf Association of Philadelphia playing resume includes two Silver Crosses in 1990 and 1991, a Senior Amateur Championship in 2006, and three Tournament of Champions wins in 2006, 2007 and 2012. As a member of the Executive Committee from 2004 to 2012, McCool helped to establish the Brewer Cup as a Senior tournament in 2008.
“I’ve been familiar with it from the beginning, before it even started. It’s a great tribute to a tremendous person and tremendous player. So, you know, I’m not going to miss this tournament. I’m going to play every chance I get.”
With yet another match-play appearance looming, McCool looks to address a simple part of his game.
“I kept hitting it over the greens today, so I’m going to try and hit it below the hole tomorrow and see if that will work out a little better. We’re going to give that a try.”
The Super-Senior’s cut line stopped at 77. There was a 3-for-2 playoff to decide the final two seeds. Lancaster Country Club's Dan Burton and Tavistock Country Club's John Owens grabbed the two available spots and moved on to match play, which will begin tomorrow at 9 a.m.
The Brewer Cup is named in honor of O. Gordon Brewer, Jr., the former president of Pine Valley Golf Club. Brewer carded a 76 in today’s stroke play qualifying round, and will enter match play as the No. 5 seed. He is a two-time U.S. Senior Amateur Champion and veteran of 42 USGA Championships. He’s captured two Golf Association of Philadelphia Amateur Championship titles (1967, 1976), a GAP Senior Amateur Championship crown (1997) and a Senior Player of the Year (1997) as well as countless invitational titles. Five years ago he was recognized for his contributions to the game with the USGA’s Bob Jones Award.
View results for Philadelphia Brewer Cup Golf Tournament