Jeff Osberg (Golf Association of Philadelphia photo)
Jeff Osberg joined the future GAP Hall of Famer as the second player to complete the career Grand Slam. Osberg captured the elusive final jewel of that quest, the Middle-Amateur Championship, with a clinical performance on Wednesday at LedgeRock Golf Club (par 72, 7,069 yards). The Pine Valley Golf Club power hitter finessed his way to a second-round 68 and 5-under total. Osberg finished two shots clear of second-place finisher, and his playing partner today, Matt Mattare of Saucon Valley Country Club.
“I’m overwhelmed with joy. It’s something I’ve had my sights on now for years since it’s been a possibility. It’s been a big focus of mine,” said Osberg, 36, of Bryn Mawr, Pa. “There have been so many great players in the Philadelphia area. To think I stand on top with Chris Lange, Sr., who is a great friend of mine, is special. Obviously, it goes without saying he’s one of the best players to ever play in Philadelphia. To think there are only two people to ever achieve [this] is really special.”
The GAP Grand Slam consists of the Middle-Amateur, BMW Philadelphia Amateur Championship, Open Championship and Joseph H. Patterson Cup. Osberg won the Amateur in 2014, the Open in 2016 and 2019 and the Patterson Cup on three occasions (2010, 2016, 2019). Lange completed his quartet with a victory in the 2004 Open at Philadelphia Country Club. At the time, Lange’s victory marked just the 11th time an amateur had captured the Open in 100 years.
Steady winds and wet conditions – LedgeRock measured 2.2 inches of rain overnight – made an already difficult course even harder. Tuesday’s scoring average was 76.2. That average raised a half a stroke Wednesday.
For the first nine of the final 18 holes, Andrew Mason, one of two first-round co-leaders, appeared poised to add a fourth GAP Major victory to his ensemble. Mason, 32, of Conshohocken, Pa. and Huntingdon Valley Country Club, is a two-time former Open champion (2011-12) and a Patterson Cup victor (2011). Mason made the turn at 6-under overall. Osberg was minus 3.
And when Osberg recorded his only bogey of the day on No. 10 (par 3, 180 yards), that lead bumped to four strokes.
That’s when Osberg reversed fortunes of a year ago. At Rolling Green Golf Club in May 2019, Osberg watched a three-shot lead on the back nine evaporate courtesy of a frosty putter. At LedgeRock, with the nightmares of a year ago long gone, Osberg posted three birdies and six pars. He drove No. 12 (par 4, 265 yards) and tapped in for birdie after his 15-foot eagle putted lipped out; on No. 13 (par 5, 556 yards) knocked down a wedge from 50 yards to 10 feet; and on No. 16 (par 4, 365 yards) ripped his driver greenside right before chipping up to 10 feet and draining the putt. Perhaps his most clutch, and greatest shot in GAP history, yes, we said it, came on No 17 (par 4, 445 yards), the uphill, dogleg left beast of a hole with very little bail out room anywhere. His 2-iron landed right off the tee in the rough. Trying to spank a 2-iron from 210 yards to the elevated putting surface, Osberg’s foot slipped from the steep, downhill lie and he came up 67 yards short of the green, and fortunately, for him, short of the cross bunker. Seeing the flag, and not much else on the green, he lifted a lob wedge to five feet and made the par save.
“Obviously, so much can go wrong on the 17th hole. I hit a horrible tee shot. I slipped on the second one and got lucky where it ended up,” said Osberg, who has finished second twice previously in the Middle-Amateur. “If it goes in the bunker, who knows what happens. I wasn’t looking to make par at that point and time. I got it up on the green fairly close and made a great par save. Once it didn’t go in the bunker, I was really just trying to get it on the green somewhere and make bogey at worse. Short could have been a huge number. I didn’t want to do anything catastrophic to take me out of the tournament there.”
“That’s all world,” Mattare said to Osberg.
Mattare, who finished at 3-under for the 36 holes, 1 under in Round 2, tried to apply pressure throughout. However, a double bogey on No. 9 (par 4, 380 yards) made the hurdle too high to get over.
“I stubbed my toe on one hole each day,” said Mattare, 34, of Jersey City, N.J. “I rip it down the middle of the fairway, then I chunk a shot into a bunker short, then I chunk it out of the bunker, chip onto the green and make a putt.”
On Day 1, that stumbled occurred on No. 11 (par 4, 411 yards).
Meanwhile, Mason’s consistent ball striking of the first 27 holes left him. Struggling with his tee ball, Mason bogeyed Nos. 10-11 (par 4, 413 yards). A flatstick miscue on No. 16 – a three-putt bogey – eliminated his championship chances.
Mason as well as fellow first-round leader Jason Wilson of Olde Homesteard Golf Club finished tied for third.
Defending champion Will Davenport of Whitemarsh Valley Country Club tied for 12th.
DuPont Country Club in Wilmington, Del. was set to host the Middle-Amateur May 18-19. GAP postponed the event — a spring to fall shift — because of the global health crisis. It canceled Qualifying altogether, thereby making the Middle-Amateur invitation-only. Furthermore, due to COVID-19 travel restrictions, a site change occurred.
This is the first GAP Major Championship held at LedgeRock.
A William Hyndman, III Player of the Year points event, the Middle-Amateur Championship started in 1984, three years after the USGA created the U.S. Mid-Amateur as a formal championship for post-college amateurs. GAP followed suit in creating a Mid-Am, but initially differed in its administration of the tournament in a couple of respects.
The most obvious difference was the age requirement. Prior to 2001, the GAP Middle-Amateur was only available to players 30 years of age or older.
The GAP Executive Committee reviewed and revised that age requirement in 2001 to match the USGA’s guidelines of 25 years of age or older for eligible players. At that point, the Committee changed the format of the event to a two-day stroke play tournament (instead of a one-day medal play event) with a cut to the low 70 players and ties after the first round.
View results for Philadelphia Mid-Amateur