|14th Hole at Cobbs Creek GC|
PPGA 2007 Year in Review
The Philadelphia Publinks Golf Association recently wrapped up another successful season of competition. The 2007 campaign included two anniversary tournaments, the 40th Annual Better Ball of Partners and the 35th Annual Philadelphia Open Amateur, both contested over three days at Cobbs Creek Golf Club. Over 575 contestants participated in the six-events in 2007.
The season kicked off with the Seventh Annual Terracciano Cup, where twelve clubs battle for bragging rights and the priviledge to hoist the Cup. Cobbs Creek rolled to a 3-0 record in the East division, accumulating 102 points from their three matches. The North division ended in a three-way tie between Rancocas, Bensalem, and defending champion John F Byrne, with Byrne winning out on the tiebreaker. The Western division came down to a final day match between Kimberton Golf Club and Linfield National, with Kimberton winning 26-22 on the strength of 17 ½ out of 24 points at home. The Championship match pitted defending champion John F. Byrne, Cobbs Creek and Kimberton, the 2001 and 2005 winners. Cobbs started quickly by grabbing 18 points and winning at Byrne, as well as securing 20 points to defend their home course. After the results were tabulated for the first two sites Cobbs held a 38 to 30 (Byrne) to 28 (Kimberton) lead. Byrne fought back in the matches at Kimberton to take 14 points out of the first three matches, while Kimberton took 15 ½. Cobbs’ lead was down to 44 ½ to Byrne’s 44 and Kimberton’s 43 ½ going into the fourth and final group. In the final group for Cobbs was Jim Durante, who managed a 4-0 win over Kimberton’s Lou Buckwalter and a 3-1 win over Byrne’s John Jester, thus sealing the first ever Terracciano Cup for Cobbs Creek with 51 ½ points. John F. Byrne finished second with 48 ½ points, 3 points shy in their bid to repeat. Kimberton finished 3rd with 44 points. Congratulations to Captain Paul Cornely and his teammates from Cobbs Creek for bringing the trophy to “the Crick”.
The traditional first tournament of the year, the Better Ball of Partners at Turtle Creek, was delayed due to a late spring frost delay. But when it did get underway some teams got hot in a hurry. Buck Jones and Jim Yenser set the early pace by shooting 69 in one of the earliest groups to lead the seventy-team field. That score stood as the number to beat for over two hours before the defending champions, Byron Whitman and Bill Schulz, turned in a 67 to take the lead. Whitman and Schulz’s score was equaled two groups later by Phil Arouca and Garrett Basalayga. This was the beginning of a sparkling summer for Arouca, who later went on to qualify for the US Amateur Public Links (where he qualified for match play and eventually lost in the round of 16), the GAP Amateur (where he also qualified for match play and lost in the semifinals), and the US Amateur. The Better Ball title, however, would elude Arouca and partner Basalayga, as Whitman and Schultz took the title in a scorecard playoff to successfully defend their title. The victory was Whitman’s 3rd Better Ball Championship (he teamed with Brent Wiley to win the 2004 title). The 40th Annual Better Ball Team Championship held at Cobbs Creek Golf Club was next on the schedule.
The crown jewel of the PPGA schedule, contested over three days of pressure packed golf on a championship layout, began under blue skies and excellent course conditions. A first round 66 by Mike Valentine, Spring Mill CC and Michael Curry from John F. Byrne GC served as a warning to the rest of the field that conditions were ripe for scoring, and you had better go low or fear being left out. The 66 by Valentine and Curry led the field of 100 participants by one shot over two teams, Souderton high school seniors Travis Gahman and Luke Peters and Buck Jones, Linfield National GC and Jim Yenser, Raven’s Claw GC, after day one. A second round 70 from Gahman and Peters gave them a 36-hole total of 137 and a 1 shot lead over two teams. Hot on the heels of the leaders with a second round 67 was six-time winner Mike Owsik and Kevin Melnick, both from Plymouth CC and also the team of Buck Jones and Jim Yenser, who followed their 67 on day one with a 71 on day two. Day three saw Jones and Yenser get out of the gate fast with birdies on seven of the first eight holes on their way to a front nine 28. Their only par coming at the 122 yard par 3 6th. Gahman and Peters stayed in contention on the front side with a 2-under 33 of their own. But two bogeys coming in on 10 and 18 ended the second round leader’s bid for the championship as they settled for a fourth place finish. Liam Friedman, FDR GC, and Will DeGothseir, Cobbs Creek GC, followed a 2nd day 68 with a 67 on day three to finish third at 6-under par, 207. Owsik and Melnick mad a charge of their own with a front nine 31 which included three birdies and an eagle on the par 5, 7th. The runners-up birdied the 447 yard par 4 15th to draw within two shots of the leaders but their bid stalled with pars on the last three holes to finish two shots back at 9-under par, 204. After their torrid start, Jones and Yenser carded 10 straight pars to close the round for a final round 64 and the championship. The winner’s total of 11-under par, 202 was the lowest total for a winner since Mike and Joe Owsik teamed together in 2000 for a winning score of 12-under par, 201. Alan Hasher and Joe Tiberi won the A Flight by a shot over George Griffin and Fred Naegle, John Colello and Mike Haney shot a final round 71 to take the B Flight, and Bob Manfre and Pete Cardarelli defeated Chuck Kim and Rick Wright to take C Flight honors.
Next up was the Philadelphia Publinks Championship, held at Kimberton GC for the first time since 1992, a well manicured and challenging layout in Chester County. The weather proved to be a challenge for the early groups as play was suspended for an hour and thirty five minutes as over an inch of rain fell on the golf course in just over 40 minutes. When the rain subsided the players were back on the course and scoring was the major objective of the day. The Publinks Championship is a one day 18-hole event where more than a few birdies are traditionally needed to contend. On this day, however, soft fairways coupled with tricky greens ensured that par was going to be a good score. Jay Loehrs, Cobbs Creek GC posted an early 73 to lead the field, with Dave Shields, Walnut Lane GC and Joe Campisano, Center Square GC, posting 73’s right behind him. They stood as the leaders until Buck Jones turned in a 71, one over par. Bill Turner’s 72 was bested by Steve McIntyre’s 71, out of the same threesome, which led to the first play-off of 2007. It was McIntyre and Jones for the Publinks Championship as they headed to the first tee for the sudden death playoff. After McIntyre missed the fairway to the right Jones laced his drive down the middle in perfect position. McIntyre had to deal with some trees on his second shot and came up short as Jones found the middle of the green, pin high twenty feet away from the left hole location. McIntyre was first to play and chipped to 5 feet above the hole before Jones rolled in his twenty footer for birdie to capture the championship. For Jones, it was his second PPGA title in three weeks. This year’s Publinks Championship also included the first ever net championship, which was won by Damian Anzaldo, Kennet Square GC. Second place went to Lou Buckwalter of the host club, and Naz Gagliardi, Bensalem GC finished third.
The 35th Annual Open Amateur Championship featured 84 contestants vying for the title over three days at Cobbs Creek GC. “The Crick” again would prove a tough test, yet forgiving to the individual who could solve those quick, sloped greens. Day one was highlighted by Liam Friedman’s 68, which led by two shots over Wedgwood’s Steve Passalacqua. Both players would run into trouble on day two, where Friedman shot 74 and Passalacqua carded an 81. That opening was just enough for Anthony Saltarelli, John F. Byrne, to wrestle the lead. Saltarelli, whose first round 73 was marred by a triple bogey on 17, made six birdies on day two to fire a 68 and snatch the lead from Friedman by a shot. Four back of Saltarelli was defending champion Lance Oberparleiter from Wedgwood. Five back was a trio of players including four-time champion Chris Fieger, two-time champ Jay Loehrs, Cobbs Creek GC along with Travis Gahman. Birdies would be needed on the outward nine for positioning to face the challenging back nine where bogies are plentiful. Loehrs struck early, birdying 2, 5, 6, and 7 to take a one shot lead as Saltarelli bogeyed the 304 yard, par 4, 3rd. Loehrs quickly relinquished the lead with a bogey on 8 and a double bogey on the par 4, 9th. Fieger posted 3 birdies against 3 bogeys for a round of even par which was good enough for a tie for third with Loehrs. Friedman started with a front nine score of one over par before bogeying 10 and 11 which left him four back of Saltarelli after the eventual champion bidied the par 4, 11th. Friedman finished the final round with birdies on 14 and 16 but Saltarelli matched with two of his own on 13 and 15 to keep his pursuers at a distance. Friedman’s final round of 72 was good enough for 2nd place with a score of 214, one over par for the tournament. Saltarelli’s victory was his 2nd Philadelphia Open Amateur Championship, also hoisting the trophy in 2003. The A Flight was won by Andrew Jaskel in a three way play-off over Kyle Durham and George Griffin as Jaskel birdied the first two holes of the playoff. The B Flight was won by Kevin Frost by 2 shots over Jeff Owsik, and the C Flight was won by Louis Barclay by 2 shots over Jason Nawn.
The 2007 Senior Amateur Championship was contested at the FDR GC in South Philadelphia. The 82 player field was highlighted by the marquis grouping of Buck Jones, Mike Dutill, Mike Owsik, and Bill Turner. Each with a resume too long to list. The headline this day, however, belonged to Naz Gagliardi. Gagliardi, of Bensalem CC, fired an even par 69 for the overall championship and also for a three shot victory over Anthony Fortunato in the 60-69 age group. Mike Dutill, the 2006 champion, tied Kerry Burley from Kimberton GC with 71 for the low scores in the 50-59 age bracket. Dutill, who won the scorecard playoff with Burnley, highlighted his round with an eagle at the final hole which leapfrogged him past five players including ten time PPGA champion Mike Owsik. Owsik was joined by Bill Turner, Curt Biehn, Mike Harms, and John Dickinson who all finished one shot behind Dutill and Burnley. John Palumbo won the 70 and over division with a 76, one shot better than Coleman Holmes and two better than Nick DiFabio.
The final event of the year was the 3rd annual Over/Under Better Ball Championship, played at Wedgwood Country Club. Seventy-two players, each team consisting of one player 45 years of age or older and the other player under 45 tried for the title in the near perfect conditions. For the third consecutive year a play-off would be needed to crown a champion. Tim Papa and Curt Oberparleiter of the host club tied John Dickinson and Matt Kohn, Hartefeld National GC both with 3-under par rounds of 69. Papa’s par on the first playoff hole was good enough for the victory. Two teams tied for third place with rounds on one under par 71, Mike Dutill and Mike Schubert of Horsham Valley and Ken Hayman and Joe Herner, of Kimerton GC. The net division was won by Ted Nunez and Pete Cardarelli, whose net 64 was four shots better than Pat Sullivan and Bill Albertus.
For the second year, the PPGA crowned both a Player of the Year and a Senior Player of the Year. Players who hold their handicaps at PPGA member clubs John F. Byrne, Cobbs Creek, or Linfield National are eligible to earn points based on their finish in PPGA events and also USGA events. Both the Player of the Year and the Senior Player of the Year, determined by points earned in a season long competition, represent the PPGA in the Golf Association of Philadelphia’s annual Tournament of Champions. This year’s Player of the Year was Jay Loehrs and the Senior Player of the Year was Buck Jones. Both Jay and Buck, in addition to exhibiting immense talent on the golf course, exhibit both a respect and graciousness for the game and in how they carry themselves away from the golf course. The PPGA is proud to affiliate themselves with these two champions and wishes them luck in the upcoming Tournament of Champions at Coatesville Country Club.
In closing, it was another outstanding year for the Philadelphia Publinks Golf Association, and that can only be attributed to the players who participate in our events, the host clubs for both the team matches and tournaments, and the volunteers whose endless time and dedication help make the tournaments enjoyable for all involved. With the growing popularity of PPGA events it is inevitable that 2008 will be even better. The 2008 Tournament Calendar will be posted to the website by late February. An e-mail will go out notifying everyone when the calendar is finalized and applications are ready to print. If you would like your e-mail address added to the PPGA distribution list please e-mail email@example.com and you will receive all future correspondence regarding PPGA news and events. We look forward to seeing everyone again in 2008 and, hopefully, some new faces as well.
The PPGA Board of Directors
Paul Cornely, Pat Sullivan, Jerry Haas, Kevin Koch, Mike Millar, Bill Turner, Caesar Caramenico, Tony Carroll, Bob Manfre, Bruce Doherty, Peter Boylan, Rick Wineberg, Will DeGothseir