Cricketâs Orlando blooms in U.S. Mid-Amateur Qual. on home course
FLOURTOWN, Pa. â Nothing like a walk-off ace to earn medalist honors and a trip to the U.S. Mid-Amateur.
Gregor Orlando experienced such a wild scenario on his home course Tuesday. The Philadelphia Cricket Club member notched a hole-in-one on No. 10 (par 3, 169 yards), his final hole in a U.S. Mid-Amateur Qualifier administered by the Golf Association of Philadelphia at the Wissahickon Course (par 70, 6,938 yards). That conversion brought Orlando to the scorerâs table at 4-under-par 66, one clear of clubmate Andy Latowski.
Fellow Cricketer John Brennan, a two-time club champion (2014-15), also advanced. Yardley Country Clubâs Christopher Ault and DuPont Country Clubâs Matthew Finger, along with out-of-towners Chris Cassetta of Winston-Salem, N.C. and Brian Payne of Flossmoor, Ill., rounded out the list of qualifiers.
The U.S. Mid-Amateur will take place Sept. 10-15 at Stonewall.
âThe wind was a little into us, so I figured a low, cut 8-iron would be perfect there,â Orlando, 25, of Philadelphia, Pa., said of the ace. âThe pin was all the way up front, so we actually couldnât see it go in. It just cleared the bunker. Kirby [Martin, GAP Director of Competitions] comes flying around the bend and says, âI heard on the radio another hole-in-one was made. Was that you?â I had no idea. It was pretty neat. Iâm sure Andyâs not going to be happy when he lands to figure out that I clipped him by one with a walk-off ace.â
Latowski, a Cricket member of five years who moved to San Francisco, Calif. in June 2015 for business purposes, posted a 3-under-par 67 in the morning.
For Orlando, his sixth career hole-in-one came in a crucial setting. In invigorating fashion, he earned a spot in his first USGA championship on his home course.
âI know where you can miss it and where you need to miss it big on a couple of holes,â Orlando, a Golf Association of Philadelphia Magazine Player to Watch in 2016, said. âIf youâre going to swing, you better make sure youâre getting it out there in the right spot. You miss these fairways and youâre in thick rough. Itâs not fun.â
Orlando, who started on No. 11 (par 4, 393 yards), birdied the par 5, 538-yard 12th hole to pop on the leaderboard. He âfeather cutâ a 5-wood from 258 yards and logged two putts from 15 feet. A steady stream of pars escorted Orlando to his next red figure. On No. 2 (par 4, 425 yards), he attacked a back left hole location with a pitching wedge from 153 yards. Orlando then dropped a downhill 15-footer on the low side.
âThat was a great feeling. I knew I had to keep it going because I saw a couple of scores out there that were pretty low,â he said.
Hiccups on Nos. 5 (par 3, 214 yards) and 6 (par 4, 472 yards) halted Orlandoâs momentum. He failed to get up-and-down for par from the right greenside bunker on No. 5 after catching the upslope with a 4-iron. Two left misses didnât make a right number on No. 6, where Orlando carded another bogey. Feeling a sudden need for birdie, he unearthed one on the par 5, 550-yard No. 7. Orlando pummeled a 5-wood over the green, but flopped a wedge to 12 feet for a 4. Moments prior to the unprecedented finish, he fired a birdie on No. 9 (par 4, 372 yards), spinning a full 60-degree wedge 104 yards to two feet.
âI felt like the pressure was a little off going into the last hole,â Orlando, who works in insurance, said. âWhen Kirby told me it went in on No. 10, thatâs when I finally took a breath.â
Orlando is in the midst of a stellar summer campaign. He posted a Top 5 finish in the Middle-Amateur Championship presented by Callaway Golf and reached the quarterfinals in the BMW Philadelphia Amateur Championship. Orlando attributes his success of late to Cricketâs talent base.
âEvery day on the weekends, we play and get matches going. Itâs good to get the competitive juices flowing,â he said.
Latowski flew into town on Friday and spent a good portion of the weekend at Philadelphia Cricket. He joined Orlando, Brennan and a handful of members in Tuesdayâs field for a social/practice round on Sunday.
âWe have such a good group of guys who play out here. Just to see all of the guys from the GAP, itâs always a lot of fun to come back,â Latowski, 37, said. âI feel like I usually play pretty well out here. You donât get a chance to play a golf tournament on your home course that often. It didnât make a lot of sense to play in California. Now it feels good that I didnât.â
Latowski felt a calming weekend vibe with friend and member Cole Berman, a two-time GAP Major champion, on the bag Tuesday.
âThe course was a little soft, but the greens were pretty quick. Itâs always in good shape here so itâs always fun to play out here,â he said. âI tried to play it like it was a normal Saturday round. [Caddie] Cole [Berman] was great. He read some greens for me too, which was fun. Out of the blue, he texted me the other day and asked if I wanted a caddie for today. I was like, âYeah, absolutely.â Itâs always good to have someone as good as him on the bag. We had a great time.â
After looping for Latowski in the morning, Berman grabbed Brennanâs bag in the afternoon.
âI played with Cole at Huntingdon Valley (Country Club) in the Patterson [Cup], and I was like, âDo you want to come out? Nobody knows the place better than you do,ââ Brennan, 37, of Collegeville, Pa., said. âHe was really motivating. It was awesome.â
Brennan heads to his third U.S. Mid- Amateur (2012, 2014). Latowski will appear in his third (2006, 2014). He gained match play at Saucon Valley Country Club, where he fell in the quarterfinals to Kevin Marsh of Henderson, Nev., 7&6.
The Golf Association of Philadelphia will administer a second U.S. Mid-Amateur Qualifier on Aug. 15 at Llanerch Country Club in Havertown, Pa.
Golf Association of Philadelphia