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Fieldstone Golf Club’s Simon Hagger saves par on No. 12 (par 4, 457 yards).

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Esbenshade, Hagger top Amateur Qualifier at Inniscrone

  AVONDALE, Pa. — Bent Creek Country Club’s Chris Esbenshade and Fieldstone Golf Club’s Simon Hagger carded respective 3-over-par 73s to share medalist honors in a Golf Association of Philadelphia Amateur Championship Qualifier at Inniscrone Golf Club (par 70, 6,364 yards). The two led a 77-player collective vying for one of 17 qualifying positions and ties available for the Championship proper, set for June 18-20 & 22 at Aronimink Golf Club.

  The field scoring average neared 81 by day’s end. Both Esbenshade and Hagger minimized mistakes on the Gil Hanse design. Esbenshade, 37, of Lititz, Pa., cited putting as a contributing factor to his co-medalist status. He reached 10 greens in regulation and executed crucial two-putts for par throughout the day.

   “I left myself with tricky three-footers coming back and made them, which keeps the momentum going,” Esbenshade said. “If you miss those, it makes it tough.”

  After a missed green resulted in a bogey on No. 1 (par 4, 402 yards), Esbenshade responded with back-to-back birdies on Nos. 2 (par 4, 345 yards) and 3 (par 4, 301 yards). He hit a wedge 110 yards to four feet on the first, and 80 yards to five feet on the latter. Esbenshade tugged a 4-iron right of the No. 4 (par 4, 439 yards) green, chipped on and failed to execute a 20-foot comebacker for par. He dropped back to even with a birdie on the par 3, 159-yard 11th hole, knocking a 7-iron to 15 feet. Conservative play coming in led to bogeys on Nos. 12 (par 4, 457 yards), 14 (par 3, 195 yards) and 17 (par 4, 445 yards).

  Now three years removed from hip surgery, Esbenshade, a member of the 2009 GAP Compher Cup, still experiences pain because of impingement, but enjoys competing nonetheless and looks forward to Aronimink.

   “I’m just happy to be able to play,” he said.

  A practice round with friend Bob Bechtold lifted Hagger, 43, of Hockessin, Del., onto the medalist platform.

   “I owe this one to Bob. He showed me where to be aggressive and where to be careful here,” Hagger said. “I didn’t get into too much trouble. I played a couple of the tough par 4s really well.”

  Hagger, who represented the Delaware State Golf Association in the 2012 USGA Men’s State Team Championship, inked red on two of his first three holes. He drilled a 9-iron 155 yards to five feet on No. 1. After nearly driving the No. 3 green, Hagger eased a chip to six feet and cleaned up the birdie putt. Consecutive bogeys concluded an otherwise pleasant outward tour. Hagger missed the No. 8 (par 3, 185 yards) green with a hybrid and left his ensuing chip significantly short. On the par 4, 433-yard No. 9, he watched his 6-iron approach reach the putting surface, only to slide off upon contact. Hagger held onto an even-par score until the 18th hole (par 4, 305 yards), where he hooked consecutive hybrids into the hazard and registered a triple bogey.

   “That was a disappointing end to a pretty solid round,” he said.

  That end, however, doesn’t hold a candle to the disappointment Hagger felt last month in a GAP Middle-Amateur Championship Qualifier at Downingtown Country Club. Inside the cut with five holes to play, Hagger signed for a 9 on the par 5, 495-yard 13th hole and failed to advance into the Championship proper, which begins this Wednesday on his home course.

   “That was a disappointing start to the season,” Hagger, an England native, said. “I was really hoping to play in that [the Middle-Amateur]. I think my game’s in pretty good shape right now. I’ve been working with Jim Larkin (Fieldstone’s head professional) on a lot of things. I’m very excited to play Aronimink. It’s another great course I haven’t played.”

  At the end of the day, the cut line fell to 77.

  Monday’s qualifier was the last of three to determine the 113th Amateur field, which also includes exempt players.

  Founded in 1897, the Golf Association of Philadelphia (GAP) is the oldest regional golf association in the United States and serves as the principal ruling body of amateur golf in its region. Its 143 Member Clubs and 57,000 individual members are spread across parts of Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware and Maryland. As Philadelphia’s Most Trusted Source of Golf Information, the Golf Association of Philadelphia’s mission is to promote, preserve and protect the game of golf.

Qualifiers

Name, Club

Scores

Chris Esbenshade, Bent Creek Country Club

73

Simon Hagger, Fieldstone Golf Club

73

Matthew Teesdale, Commonwealth National Golf Club

74

Paul Carbone, Jr., Old York Road Country Club

74

Matthew Walsh, Overbrook Golf Club

75

Edward Kelly, Jr., Old York Road Country Club

75

Daniel Pinciotti, Jr., Huntingdon Valley Country Club

75

Michael Quinn, Edgmont Country Club

75

Matthew Crescenzo, Philmont Country Club

76

John Fasy, Wilmington Country Club

76

Zachary Falone, Rolling Green Golf Club

76

G. Patrick Dougherty, Philadelphia Cricket Club

76

Joshua Isler, Chester Valley Golf Club

77

Kevin Cahill, Merion Golf Club

77

Bill Boyle, Metedeconk National Golf Club

77

William Jeremiah, Bidermann Golf Club

77

Dwight Diorio, Rolling Green Golf Club

77

Failed to qualify

Daniel Feeney, Philadelphia Cricket Club

78

Mike Amole, Huntingdon Valley Country Club

78

Thomas Lindberg, St. Davids Golf Club

79

Brian Corbett, Huntsville Golf Club

79

Tom Piersanti, Saucon Valley Country Club

79

Doug Marcincin, Northampton Country Club

79

Jack Russell, Philadelphia Cricket Club

79

Greg O'Connor, Huntingdon Valley Country Club

79

David Justi, RiverCrest Golf Club & Preserve

80

Marc Oliveri, Jr., Lancaster Country Club

80

Matt Grubb, Overbrook Golf Club

80

John Manfredi, Sand Barrens Golf Club

80

Alan Wagenschnur, Back Creek Golf Club

80

Mike Dunn, Little Mill Country Club

80

Tim Westfall, RiverCrest Golf Club & Preserve

80

Gerald Bowes, Jr., Whitemarsh Valley Country Club

81

Joe Kerrigan, Jr., Llanerch Country Club

81

Ethan Means, Inniscrone Golf Club

81

Jim Ryan, Waynesborough Country Club

81

Alexander Maguire, Jr., Brookside Country Club

81

Kevin Davis, Commonwealth National Golf Club

81

Daniel Myers, French Creek Golf Club

82

John Gosselin, Kennett Square Golf & Country Club

82

Michael DiGiandomenico, French Creek Golf Club

82

Tom Watchko, Plymouth Country Club

82

R. Morgan Dougherty, Huntingdon Valley Country Club

82

Brad McFadden, Overbrook Golf Club

82

Ryan Kline, Golden Oaks Golf Club

82

Patrick O'Brien, North Hills Country Club

83

Robert Gill, Fox Hill Country Club

83

Gerald Newell, Jr., DuPont Country Club

83

Santo Lafoca, Huntsville Golf Club

83

Michael Decapua, Northampton Country Club

83

Brad Sokol, Green Valley Country Club

84

Mark Wachter, DuPont Country Club

85

Kyle Allan, Phoenixville Country Club

85

Jared Palubinski, Golden Oaks Golf Club

85

John Samaha, Old York Road Country Club

86

Rob Beaver, Makefield Highlands Golf Club

86

George Henry, Hartefeld National

86

Liam Fahey, Overbrook Golf Club

87

Jim Witt, Commonwealth National Golf Club

87

John Leighton, Huntingdon Valley Country Club

87

Ellis Chandler, Honeybrook Golf Club

88

Robert Dietrich, Makefield Highlands Golf Club

89

Michael Hodges, The Springhaven Club

89

Ari Flaisher, McCall Golf & Country Club

92

Michael Book, Honeybrook Golf Club

94

Mark Quigley, Blue Bell Country Club

WD

Arthur Kania, Jr., Merion Golf Club

WD

Jack Clough, Wilmington Country Club

WD

William McCrossan, Applebrook Golf Club

NS

Dave Fardon, Philadelphia Publinks GA

WD

Bobby Kershner, Spring Ford Country Club

WD

David Barnett, Inniscrone Golf Club

WD

Christopher Thude, Torresdale-Frankford Country Club

NS

Sean Coyle, Llanerch Country Club

WD

WD - withdrawal; NS - no show

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