Michael McDermott (right) tees off while Jeff Osberg
(second left) looks on
HAVERTOWN, Pa.– In one of the more anticipated and well-played matches in current BMW Philadelphia Amateur history, Michael McDermott defeated Jeff Osberg in a clash of recent champions. McDermott, the 2013 victor, defeated Osberg, the reigning titleholder, 2-up, in a Round of 16 match on Wednesday at Llanerch Country Club. A sizable crowd followed the former Llanerch members throughout.
McDermott was one of eight to advance to the 115th BMW Philadelphia Amateur Championship quarterfinal round, which begins tomorrow at 7:30 a.m. The four winners will compete in the semifinals beginning at 12 p.m. The 36-hole final is set for Saturday at 7:30 a.m.
“It’s one we’ve both heard a lot about, the possibility [of a match],” said McDermott, 40, of Bryn Mawr, Pa. “It’s fun that it came to be. It was exciting for Jeff and exciting for me. He’s playing such great golf right now. I’m really lucky to have beaten him. It was a classic. You had the last two [Amateur] winners and the last two [Amateur] medalists. Here we are at a place, Llanerch, that both of us still call home. It was great I came out on top, but I don’t think there is any question Jeff Osberg is the best player in Philadelphia right now.”
“Somebody might say it’s a bad draw but the thing is I’m here to win. Whether I needed to beat Michael in the second round or the final, either way my goal would obviously be to beat him,” Osberg, 30, of Bryn Mawr, Pa. “It would have been great to have another 18 [as in a final] with him to see what type of golf we could have put up again. Michael’s résumé speaks for itself. He’s probably one of the best amateurs to play in Philadelphia and one of the top amateurs in the country. It’s kind of what you look forward to when you sign up for a tournament like this.”
McDermott, now out of Merion Golf Club, and Osberg, who calls Huntingdon Valley Country Club home, have five Llanerch club championships between them (McDermott three, Osberg two). Keen with local knowledge, their contest was destined to be a classic.
The match started on the back nine, and the elder statesman McDermott scooted to a 2-up lead after four holes. He won No. 10 (par 4, 434 yards) with a lengthy 20-foot birdie putt and then drained a head shaking 40-footer on No. 13 (par 4, 366 yards) when Osberg appeared to be in charge.
The golf then got crazy good. Both players birdied Nos. 15 (par 4, 318 yards), 16 (par 5, 504 yards) and 18 (par 4, 291 yards). They made nine birdies, between them, in nine holes. Putts ranged in distance from six to 10 feet.
McDermott led 2-up with nine holes to go.
Osberg never got discouraged, though, and won Nos. 1 (par 4, 402 yards) and 3 (par 4, 456 yards) to pull All Square.
McDermott treaded water for the next few holes before reclaiming the lead.
He found bad country off the tee on No. 4 (par 3, 205 yard) just over the left greenside bunker but saved a bogey to eke out a halve. McDermott saved himself again on No. 5 (par 5, 547 yards) after sculling a bunker shot, his third, over the green. He lifted a flop shot to three feet for a par. Osberg played the hole down the 16th fairway after hitting his tee ball left but got very unlucky when his 30-foot birdie roll horseshoed out.
On No. 6 (par 4, 422 yards), McDermott found his equilibrium. He hit a sand wedge from 103 yards to 12 feet and made birdie. Both almost charted twos on the par 3, 8th (par 3, 215 yards) but neither opportunity dropped. McDermott hopped over the green on No. 9 (par 5, 489 yards) in two shots and Osberg fell 20 yards short. Osberg hit a fine chip and charged his birdie try. McDermott, whose short game uncharacteristically struggled, safely put his ball on the green before impressively draining the 18-foot birdie clincher.
“I managed to hit a flop shot to three feet and his birdie putt did a full 360. He hit a great putt. That was a big turning point. If that putt drops or I don’t get up-and-down he goes 1-up,” said McDermott of No. 5. “I made a great birdie on the next hole. [No.] 8 was a big one as well. [No.] 8 is such a tough par 3. In my mind I felt if I could hit this on the green, it’s a 220-yard shot, this could be the match because he would be under a tremendous amount of pressure. He stepped up and not only hit a great shot but hit it about 12 feet. It was an impressive pressure shot he hit. He did not convert the putt and then we went onto No. 9.”
McDermott and Osberg, friends, haven’t competed against very frequently.
The two recalled competing in the Crump Cup against each other a couple years ago, and in a few BMW GAP Team Matches.
McDermott faces another friendly face tomorrow, Princeton University rising sophomore Michael Davis, 19, of Aronimink Golf Club. McDermott and Davis, a Newtown Square, Pa. resident, played together on Merion’s BMW GAP Team Matches squad, though be it a few years ago.
Earlier in the day, McDermott needed 20 holes to defeat David West of Whitford Country Club.
West was 4-up after eight holes and in command, before McDermott made a sterling rally with quality upon quality shot.
NOTES–McDermott won his only other Amateur title in 2008 at Whitemarsh Valley Country Club … None of the remaining seven players have ever won the J. Wood Platt Trophy … Cole Berman of Philadelphia Cricket Club, the No. 2 seed and reigning Patterson Cup champion, stayed alive with a pair of victories … the last morning Elite 8 match features Overbrook clubmates Chris Fuga and Chris Lange, Jr.