NORTH HILLS, Pa. (Aug. 29, 2012) — Michael Brown and Scott McNeil follow similar paths. Both belong to the Philadelphia Publinks Golf Association. They competed in a lot of the same golf tournaments this season. They start work at 4 a.m. — Brown manages a soft pretzel factory, McNeil a parking garage in Rittenhouse Square.
So for the Golf Association of Philadelphia’s 41st Four-Ball Stroke Play Championship at North Hills Country Club Wednesday, Brown, who spent seven years as an assistant professional at the club, knew who to call.
“I’m not bashful. I’ll dig out the talent,” Brown said.
The selection proved successful as he and McNeil blazed Brown’s former stomping grounds (par 71, 6,350 yards), carding an 8-under-par 63 to triumph.
“Anytime you beat a field in Philadelphia, you did some good things,” Brown, 39, of Cheltenham, Pa., said. “Today was no different. I rode my partner most of the day and contributed a few on the second nine, so I watched most of the show.”
“It’s nice to finally get a GAP win,” McNeil, 26, of Philadelphia, Pa., said. “Hopefully, we can build off it for next year. It was a great time at a great venue. I can’t complain.”
Eight birdies left little room for complaining. Starting on the back nine, the Brown and McNeil team posted its first birdie on the par 5, 519-yard 12th hole. McNeil powered a 4-iron 215 yards to the front of the green and two-putted. He and Brown dominated the next par 5 (No. 15, 500 yards) with a pair of 4s. Brown came up short of the putting surface on his second stroke — a 4-iron from 200 yards — and left his chip three feet from the jar. McNeil hooked a 6-iron onto the green and, given Brown’s position, made a run for eagle, but watched his putt slide four feet by the cup.
The duo then used a four-birdie stretch to accelerate ahead of the 65-team field. On No. 17 (par 4, 420 yards), Brown deposited a 15-footer following a 9-iron approach, McNeil a three-footer after a sand wedge set-up. The par 4, 280-yard 18th hole — a dogleg right temptress flaunting a forward tee — prompted both players to equip 3-woods. McNeil powered his onto the practice green — a good 20 yards behind the hole location. He pitched it to 35 feet and converted a spectacular left-to-right bender.
“That was after Mike’s putt just rolled over the edge, so I had a good idea that it was going to turn like crazy right at the hole,” McNeil, who qualified for match play in this year’s U.S. Amateur Public Links Championship, said. “It really started moving laterally.”
On No. 1 (par 4, 340 yards), Brown, the 2010 William Hyndman, III Player of the Year, hit a lob wedge 70 yards to eight feet for birdie. He nearly reached the par 5, 504-yard No. 2 on his second stroke with a 4-iron. An effective chip-and-putt led to a 4. Brown hit a lob wedge 82 yards to four feet for birdie on No. 5 (par 4,364 yards). The team’s red figure campaign ended on No. 8 (par 4, 430 yards), where McNeil knocked a sand wedge 114 yards to 10 feet and drained a right-to-left breaker.
Brown and McNeil will briefly go their separate ways next week. The two will compete in the Pennsylvania Golf Association’s Middle-Amateur Championship at The ACE Club. They will reunite as a team in October for the Publinks Challenges.
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.
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