Zak Drescher breaks through to win the Philadelphia Mid-Amateur
Zak Drescher (Golf Association of Philadelphia Photo)
Zak Drescher (Golf Association of Philadelphia Photo)

The tea leaves knew it was only a matter of time for Zak Drescher. He’s been a name lurking on leaderboards for the better part of two years. A man with a power game and a nifty greenside touch.

At a hard and fast Commonwealth National Golf Club Wednesday, with a potential career-defining GAP moment in reach, Drescher took a deep breath (five seconds worth, per him), and six seconds later, he roped a baby draw 6-iron from 198 yards to 10 feet. When the putt dropped, his friend and sometimes four-ball teammate Conor Gilbert let out a scream that sent the resident wild turkeys scurrying.

It was the only birdie recorded on No. 18 in the final round.

Drescher shot 4-over-par 217. He closed with rounds of even par 72 and 3-over 75 to grab a two-shot victory. The trio of Michael Davis of Aronimink Golf Club; Scott McNeil of The 1912 Club and Jon Rusk of LuLu Country Club tied for second at 6 over. Four players finished at 7 over and in a tie for fifth.

The scoring average for Rounds 2 and 3 was 76.93.

“To be honest I didn’t think I’d be holding the trophy today,” said Drescher, 35, of Bent Creek Country Club and Lancaster, Pa., “but I hung on. I’ll take it.

“I felt like I was moving up and playing better in more and more GAP events. It was encouraging but I didn’t think I’d win. I would say I have confidence. But when you are under the gun it’s a different ball game. I think I was able to handle everything today. I didn’t look at the scores at all. I had no idea coming up 18 of where I was.”

Where he is, is on top of the world.

He and wife Ellen welcomed a baby boy, Rhodes, 3½ weeks ago.

A new trophy for the new toddler is en route.

“I haven’t practiced much in the last three weeks since the baby. I did play in the LANCO Golf Association (Lancaster County) Two-Man Scramble this past weekend and we won. So that was encouraging,” said Drescher.

Drescher is an 11-time LANCO champion (four Amateurs; two Opens; two Better Balls; one Match Play; one Mid-Am and the aforementioned Scramble).

Drescher opened the tournament with a 70 in Tuesday’s first round. He entered the day two shots off the lead held by Sean Hughes of the USGA/GAP GC and Kevin Kramarski of Moorestown Field Club.

Drescher made a statement with back-to-back birdies to open Round 2. On No. 1 (par 5, 554 yards), he laced a 2-iron from 243 yards to 15 feet and two putted. On No. 2 (par 4, 395 yards), he lifted an 8-iron from 155 yards to 10 feet for a second straight red figure.

When the second round ended, Drescher had surged to top of the leaderboard, two shots clear of Kramarski.

New this year, the Middle-Amateur Championship expanded from 36 to 54 holes. It is now listed on the World Amateur Golf Ranking (WAGR) and eligible for points.

Drescher started his final round navigation in cruise control with four straight pars before he blew a tire on No. 5 (par 3, 167 yards). A bunker and a bogey putt miss resulted in a double.

A birdie and bogey to complete the front nine followed, before a par on No. 10 (par 4, 417 yards) emboldened his chances. Long of the green, on a back mound, Drescher gingerly lifted a chip to a hole on a speedy, and severe downhill slope. It nested inches from the cup for an easy par. Six was in play.

Yes, bogeys on Nos. 14, 15 and 17 followed, but they weren’t tragedies. It was more or less what the field was doing at that point. That’s when he hit the shot of a lifetime on No. 18.

“I knew the adrenaline was running so I tried to crunch [the 6-iron]. I did it,” said Drescher. “I knew it was better to be short because this morning I was long and I was dead. I think I needed to make the putt, but I had no idea.”

Last year, Drescher placed sixth in the Middle-Amateur. In August, he finished ninth in the Joseph H. Patterson Cup presented by Provident Bank. A couple weeks after that, he and Gilbert secured the Four-Ball Stroke Play Championship with a 63.

A good year in 2023. Already a better one in 2024.

View results for Philadelphia Mid-Amateur
ABOUT THE Philadelphia Mid-Amateur

Format: Thirty-Six hole individual gross stroke play, two day event. With a cut after the first day to the low 70 and ties.

Eligibility: Open to Member Club golfers who are 25 years of age and over with a USGA Handicap. Nonexempt players must prequalify. Index of 7.0 or lower.

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