MALVERN, Pa.–A balky left shoulder almost derailed Michael McDermott’s Amateur Championship title defense before it started.
A cortisone shot late last week alleviated the pain, however, and some swings on the range Monday at White Manor Country Club loosened the stiff joint.
That meant it was business as usual on the course for the five-time William Hyndman, III Player of the Year.
McDermott opened Amateur Championship qualifying at White Manor Country Club (par 71, 6,752 yards) with a 5-under 66 and added a 1-over-par 71 at Overbrook Golf Club (par 70, 6,566 yards) in Round 2 to earn medalist honors for the second time in his career. He finished 4-under 137. Five players finished at 3 under. The low 32 players advanced to match play. The cut line fell at 148 with five players competing for two spots. Jalen Griffin of Talamore Country Club birdied the first playoff hole with an 8-iron from 153 yards to eight inches to survive. Russell Hill of Old York Country Club at Chesterfield grabbed the final match play spot with a par on the third playoff hole. He will face McDermott at 7:30 a.m. Tuesday at White Manor.
“I don’t know what to say about the shoulder because it was fine today,” said McDermott, who is gunning for a third Amateur title (2008, 2013). “It was a scary couple of days because I didn’t know. I told my wife this morning that I’ve never felt more uncertain heading to a tournament because I didn’t know if I was going to play. I can tell there is a little bit of a twitch there but I felt fine. Hopefully that will be the last time I think about that this week.”
Rounds 1 and 2 of the 114th Amateur are set for tomorrow. The quarterfinals and semifinals are scheduled for Wednesday. The 36-hole final begins at 7:30 a.m. on Saturday.
McDermott stated his intentions early on White Manor’s back nine, his initial outward jaunt, with four birdies on the final four holes.
On No. 15 (par 4, 321 yards), McDermott almost drove the green before chipping up to a foot for a 3; on No. 16 (par 4, 412 yards) he lifted a sand wedge from 115 yards to six feet; on No. 17 (par 5, 546 yards), he cozied a difficult putt from 35 feet away and the back fringe to inches before knocking a gap wedge from 130 yards on No. 18 (par 4, 399 yards) to four feet.
“By the first tee I knew I was OK to play. I played really solid the whole day at White Manor. It was a pretty low stress sort of round for a course that is tough,” said McDermott, 39, of Bryn Mawr, Pa. “Overbrook has always had my number. I’ve never really put together a good competitive or social round there. I had a sand wedge into 14. I landed on the fringe on the sprinkler head and bounced out-of-bounds. Then I had to hit the shot again with a pond short. There were a lot of thoughts in my head at that point. I hit it to about eight feet and made a five. It was a bad break but I kept it together and parred out from there.”
McDermott’s other Amateur medalist honor came in 2003 when qualifying was at Manufacturers Golf & Country Club and Philmont Country Club (North). He carded an identical 4-under 137 that year.
Last year, McDermott defeated Alexander Hicks of Wildwood Golf & Country Club, 5&4, at Aronimink Golf Club for the Amateur trophy.
The quintet at 3 under includes John Brennan of Philadelphia Cricket Club; Chris Crawford of Spring Mill Country Club; Aaron Fricke of Honeybrook Golf Club; Anthony Sebastianelli of Glen Oak Country Club and Matthew Teesdale of Commonwealth National Golf Club. Brennan, 35, of Audubon, Pa., the 2012 Middle-Amateur Champion, withdrew from match play. His scores will count in the Silver Cross Award standings. He carded a 67 at Overbrook before returning a 71 at White Manor.
Crawford, 20, of Bensalem, Pa., also started at Overbrook. He posted a 68 there before carding a 70 at White Manor. Crawford just completed his sophomore year at Drexel University. He advanced to Round 2 of match play last year at Aronimink Golf Club.
Aaron Fricke, 19, of Lancaster, Pa., recently captured the Pennsylvania Golf Association’s 74th Dressler Public Links Championship. He posted a 67 at Overbrook in the morning and a 71 at White Manor in the afternoon. This is Fricke’s first time competing in the Golf Association of Philadelphia Amateur. Fricke just completed his freshman year at Lackawanna Junior College.
It is also Anthony Sebastianelli’s first Amateur experience. The Glen Oak Country Club member started at White Manor with a 67 before closing with a 71 at Overbrook. Sebastianelli, 19, of Clarks Summit, Pa., graduated from Abington Heights High this year. He is headed to Central Connecticut State University in the fall. Sebastianelli finished his high school career with a third-place showing in the PIAA Class AAA State Championship.
ABOUT THE Philadelphia Amateur
Format: 36-hole individual gross stroke play
qualifying on the first day. 32
players continue to match play competition with two
rounds scheduled on
the second and third days, and the final at 36 holes
on the last day.
Eligibility: Open to all GAP Member Club
golfers with handicaps of 7.0 or less. Non-exempt
players must prequalify.
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