Sensational surge propels Tavistock's Gramigna to Middle-Amateur title
PLYMOUTH MEETING, Pa.–Tom Gramigna ended two decades of championship frustration in grand fashion on Thursday at Philadelphia Cricket Club’s Militia Hill Course (par 72, 7,102 yards). Gramigna, 40, of Tavistock CC, carded five back-nine birdies for a spectacular final-round 67 and a one-shot victory in the 27th Middle-Amateur Championship, the first GAP Major of the season. Gramigna finished at an improbable 7-under par for the two days.
President Rich Meehan (left) presents Bill Jeremiah of Bidermann GC with the second-place crystal.
Bill Jeremiah of Bidermann GC bogeyed No. 18 (par 4, 428 yards) to finish a stroke back. Cricket’s own Rob Savarese, Jr. and first-round leader Chip Lutz of LedgeRock GC tied for third with a 142 total. Defending champion Michael Brown tied for seventh at 143.
“I wasn’t sure I was ever going to win one of these things,” said Gramigna, a Haddonfield, N.J. resident. “It feels real good to finally win one of these in Philadelphia. It’s been a long drought.” Gramigna, who has won four Major New Jersey State Golf Association titles, has been a fixture on the Golf Association of Philadelphia circuit since he was “16 or 17.”
Playing in the next to last group of the day, Gramigna was still a title winning long shot despite posting a level-par 36 on the front side. That’s because Jeremiah, playing in the last group, carded four birdies on his opening nine holes and was well in command at 8-under par. Lutz stood in second at 6 under. Savarese was next at 3 under.
Gramigna, however, gave himself a mini-pep talk on the No. 10 tee.
“It was funny. I’ve probably said to myself 50 times in tournaments, ‘You are kind of out it, you are kind of far back, but if you shoot 31 or have this great back nine you can be back in it,’ ” said Gramigna. “Usually I shoot 40 and I’m way out of it. This is the first time it’s happened, so it’s a nice surprise.” He posted an astounding inward 31.
On No. 10 (par 4, 428 yards), Gramigna started his improbable surge when he knocked a pitching wedge from 125 yards to 25 feet and made the birdie chance. Two holes later, on No. 12 (par 4, 395 yards), he stopped a sand wedge from 102 yards at 15 feet for birdie. Next, he laced a 6-iron from 187 yards on his second shot to 30 feet left of the hole on the shortish par 5, 14th (528 yards) and two-putted for another under-par score. A relentless Gramigna continued the birdie barrage on No. 16 (par 4, 393 yards) when he hammered a driver and then stopped his 60-yard lob wedge three feet from the hole. At the same time as Gramigna pushed, Jeremiah started to teeter just a bit. When he carded a fifth and final birdie on No. 17 (par 5, 559 yards) after getting up-and-down from the right greenside bunker, Gramigna officially seized the lead. At the same time, Jeremiah recorded a three putt on No. 16 from 25 feet for a bogey. Lutz and the others had fallen back. Gramigna would complete his fantastic finish with a par on the last (par 4, 428 yards) to post the day’s lone round in the 60s.
“I [had] two feet [for par on the final hole] and I asked Brian [Gillespie] if I could putt out,” said Gramigna. “I told him I don’t think I could take it anymore.”
Jeremiah, however, refused to quit and still had holes to play.
The 41-year-old from Spring Grove, Pa. showed great resolve on No. 17 when he made an unlikely birdie from 25 feet after his approach stopped short of the hole. On No. 18, knowing he needed a par to force a playoff, Jeremiah pumped a drive down the middle but watched his 6-iron from 199 yards land just short of the green surface. Deciding to chip it from about five yards off the green instead of putting it – he did have two birdie chip ins yesterday – Jeremiah’s try took off after reaching the hole and stopped 18 feet past. His par chance never threatened.
“I was pretty much relaxed the entire day, until the 15th tee, when I got a little nervous,” said Jeremiah. “After I bogeyed 16 I said to myself ‘Get back to what you were doing.’ I hit a lot of good shots this week. It was a lot of fun.”