Philly Open: Amateur Mattare Dodges Disaster to Win
Matt Mattare struggled but ultimately came out on top at Philadelphia CC<br>(GAP photo)
Matt Mattare struggled but ultimately came out on top at Philadelphia CC
(GAP photo)

GLADWYNE, PA (July 18, 2017) - Matt Mattare remained calm at every point of crisis in the Open Championship’s final round. A near disaster on No. 16 included.

Entering Round 2 with a four-shot advantage, and fresh off a Philadelphia Country Club (par 71, 6,920 yards) course-record of 8-under-par 63, Mattare kept the field at arm’s length throughout to register a two-shot victory. Mattare, an amateur, finished the 36 holes of the event’s 113th edition with a 138 total. He posted a second-round 4-over 75.

Mattare joins former Professional Ralph Hutchison as the only Saucon Valley Country Club reps to earn Open hardware. Hutchinson took the 1954 Open.

Brian Bergstol, Shawnee Country Club’s director of instruction, and Tony Perla, an assistant professional from Philadelphia Cricket Club, tied for second place as well as low-pro honors at 2 under. Only four players broke par for the 36 holes.

“It certainly wasn’t as easy as yesterday,” said Mattare, 31, of Jersey City, N.J. “It feels great to get it over the finish line. I feel like my résumé has a bunch of runner-ups and Top 5s and not enough of the big hardware. It feels great to bring this one home.”

Mattare’s top prior Open finish was a tie for third in 2011 and 2016.

He did win the Association’s Middle-Amateur Championship last spring at Waynesborough Country Club in a three-man playoff.

“This is definitely the biggest win I’ve had,” Mattare added.

This year’s Open was the first with a revamped format, which included the expansion of the field to 130-plus players (up from 78) and administration of the tournament over two days instead of one. A total of 65 players made the cut (the cut was the low 60 players and ties) – 38 amateurs and 27 professionals.

Mattare opened his title march in solid, yet conservative, fashion with nine straight pars. He either found the putting surface or the fringe on every front-nine hole. At one point, standing on No. 5 (par 3, 153 yards) he held a six-shot advantage. Mattare headed to the back nine eventually five strokes clear.

That’s when a little trouble started to brew. On Nos. 10 (par 4, 435 yards) and 11 (par 3, 192 yards), he missed both greens with resulting bogeys. On the former, his tee ball found the left rough and his subsequent approach missed right. On 11, his 5-iron landed eight feet left of the flagstick but bounced over the green. He missed his four-foot par try.

“The pins were a little tougher and the greens dried out a little bit,” said Mattare of the course conditions. “I wasn’t hitting bad shots. It was set up tough and the course fought back a little bit. I bogeyed Nos. 10 and 11. I didn’t hit bad shots. They just kind of bounced over the green. And I didn’t get up-and-down.”

Mattare found the greenside bunker on No. 15 (par 3, 221 yards) for another over-par score and then on No. 16 (par 4, 403 yards) almost watched his monster lead disappear.

He ripped a perfect drive and was left with an 85-yard wedge shot.

“The only time I felt like I hit a really bad shot was on No. 16 when I laid the sod over [the second shot],” said Mattare. “It’s such a ticklish shot down the hill, hitting a three-quarter lob wedge off a downhill lie to a pin where you have the size of a coffee table to land it in.”

Mattare’s next shot from 38 yards ran through the green, leaving him a 35-foot par effort. His bogey putt was six feet.

“That was the only putt I made outside three feet. Yesterday I had 13 one putts, today I had one. It was a very timely one putt. We got through that and here we are.”

He concluded with solid tee to green play and two pars.

Bergstol carded a 2-under 69 with six birdies to gradually move up the leaderboard. His score tied for the low round of the day.

Perla, who opened the second round at 4 under after a 67 yesterday, never seemed to find solid footing. He did, however, answer the bell late when he launched a 90-yard sand wedge on No. 18 (par 4, 390 yards) to eight feet and made the birdie putt to tie Bergstol as the low pro.

Defending champion Jeff Osberg of Huntingdon Valley Country Club tied for 37th after rounds of 74 and 75.

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ABOUT THE Philadelphia Open

Format: 36-hole individual gross stroke play, two day event. With a cut after the first day to the low 60 and ties.

Eligibility: The field will consist of professionals who are active members of the Philadelphia Section PGA in good standing (the A-4 classification is not eligible), Head Professionals of GAP Member Clubs, Assistant Professionals of member clubs who are active members of the New Jersey Section PGA and amateurs who are members of member clubs and have handicap index of 7.0 or less. Non-exempt players must prequalify.

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