Nathan Sutherland was one of two players to break par Tuesday
FLOURTOWN, PA (June 13, 2017) - Timing is everything for John Brennan and the BMW Philadelphia Amateur Championship. A Spring Ford High School social studies teacher, sometimes the educational calendar precludes Brennan from competing in anything more than the event’s stroke play qualifier.
This year, with Brennan’s home of Philadelphia Cricket Club hosting the Association’s most prestigious tournament, the 38-year-old made sure he was available to play all week, if necessary.
And it may just be.
Brennan, on a brutally hot day, scorched the Wissahickon Course (par 70, 6,868 yards) in a career best 4-under in the morning before finishing the 36-hole BMW Philadelphia Amateur Qualifier with an even-par 72 at the Militia Hill Course (par 72, 7,158 yards). His total was three clear of the field. He will be the No. 1 seed heading into match play, which begins Wednesday at 7:30 a.m. Wissahickon will be the match play site.
There was a 6-for-3 playoff at 8-over 150. Jack Melville of Lu Lu Country Club earned the No. 32 and final seed with a par on the second playoff hole. Melville outlasted Matt Mattare of Saucon Valley Country Club for the final match play spot.
The #BMWPhillyAm is the oldest Amateur Championship conducted by a state or regional golf association. It started in 1897.
“I think [playing on your home course] was a huge aspect,” said Brennan, a two-time Cricket club champion. “Just the conditions of the golf course. It’s a championship golf course out here at Wissahickon. Is everybody in the field prepared for something like this, ‘I don’t know.’ I knew I was prepared coming in for the day. This is a golf course where you just have to plod along and make a lot of pars and when you get an opportunity to make a birdie you have to capitalize on it.”
Brennan, of Collegeville, Pa., did that with a career-best showing on Wissahickon. He birdied No. 1 (par 4, 395 yards) with a pitching wedge from 125 yards to two feet. He added another on the difficult No. 4 (par 4, 472 yards) after dropping an 8-iron from 155 yards to five feet. He backed that up with a 20-footer on No. 5 (par 3, 193 yards) after landing a 6-iron to the right of the hole. Brennan missed a short par putt on No. 6 (par 4, 472 yards) to give one back but went on a tear, birdieing Nos. 7 thru 9. On No. 7 (par 5, 550 yards), he dropped a lob wedge from 80 yards to 15 feet; drained a 35-footer on No. 8 (par 4, 367 yards) and stopped a GAP wedge at 10 feet on No. 9 (par 4, 376 yards). He made the turn in 5-under 30.
He reached No. 12 (par 5, 538 yards) in two for an easy birdie, then carded five straight pars before getting in some trouble on 18 (par 4, 469 yards), both off the tee and around the green, before carding a double bogey.
“That’s my best round by far at Wissahickon. Maybe I shot 1-under par before. To do it on a day like today I’m proud of myself,” said Brennan, who won the Association’s Middle-Amateur Championship in 2012. “In fact, I had only four scores above par, two bogeys and two double bogeys.”
Brennan carded his other double bogey, ironically, on the first hole of the second round to make it back-to-back doubles.
After opening with that double at Militia Hill, Brennan then birdied No. 11 (par 3, 157 yards) with a three-quarter 7-iron to 10 feet and No. 14 (par 5, 531 yards) after reaching it in two.
“I settled in after that and just made a lot of pars,” said Brennan.
For some reason, this is Nathan Sutherland of LedgeRock Golf Club’s first Amateur appearance. His 1-under-par total was the only other red figure in the field of 139. The timing just never worked out before for the long-hitting 27-year-old.
It did today, however, for Sutherland who was playing Cricket for the first time.
“The course sets up well for me. You can spray the ball a little off the tee, you have to hit high shots into the green and I love putting on fast surfaces,” said Sutherland, 27, of Reading, Pa. “This was the first time all year I kind of put everything together.”
Sutherland isn’t without Championship credentials.
He finished second in the 2007 Patterson Cup at Berkleigh Country Club/Moselem Springs Golf Club to Michael McDermott. That was the same year Sutherland tied for third in the Pennsylvania State Amateur, where he opened with a 63 at Longue Vue Club.
Sutherland faces No. 31 seed Brian Fischer, 21, of Commonwealth National Golf Club.
Defending champion McDermott, 42, of Bryn Mawr, Pa., qualified for match play as well. The three-time Amateur Champion finished qualifying at 4 over and is seeded No. 17. He faces 20-year-old clubmate and No. 16 seed Peter Bradbeer of Rosemont, Pa. at 7:37 a.m. on No. 1.
A total of 13 Philadelphia Cricket Club members qualified for the Championship proper. Three others, in addition to Brennan advanced: Cole Berman, the 2015 BMW Philadelphia Amateur Champion; Conrad Von Borsig, the 2009 BMW Philadelphia Amateur Champion; and Gregor Orlando, a quarterfinalist in 2016.
This is the first time the BMW Philadelphia Amateur returns to the Wissahickon Course as the primary site since 1976. That year O. Gordon Brewer, Jr. of Huntingdon Valley Country Club defeated Duke Delcher of Sandy Run Country Club.
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