Amateur Chris Lange takes 100th Open ChampionshipGLADWYNE, Pa-Chris Lange’s resume is as impressive as any current or former player in the Golf Association of Philadelphia. The 49-year-old is a three-time Amateur and a three-time Patterson Cup (the Association’s stroke play competition) champion. The longtime Overbrook GC member also has finished as the Low Amateur in the Philadelphia Open Championship twice – a second- and third-place showing.
On Wednesday, Lange bettered those two notable prior Open placings in grand style, taking the 100th Open Championship as administered by the Golf Association of Philadelphia at the extremely difficult and challenging Philadelphia CC (par 70, 6,956 yards). Lange posted a 1-over-par total (141), the low golfer in the field of 60 players – 45 professionals from the Philadelphia Section of the PGA and 15 amateurs.
The Open is a 36-hole, one-day event.
"This is very special," said Lange, the first amateur to take the Open since Michael Brown did so in 1997. "I’ve been close a couple, but I was never able to finish the job."
Dave Quinn, the golf professional at Links Golf Club, placed second with a 143 total (71-72) and Michael McDermott, the reigning Golf Association Player of the Year from Llanerch CC, finished third with scores of 73-71 for a 144 finish.
Defending champion Brian Kelly placed seventh with rounds of 76-71 and 147 total (7-over par).
Kim Verrecchio, a teaching professional at Waynesborough CC, who made history by becoming the first woman to ever compete in the Open, carded rounds of 92 and 87 for a 179 total.
"I’m glad I played. Everyone involved was very supportive," said Verrecchio, 35, of Havertown, Pa. "The golf course was much more difficult than I could have ever prepared for."
Lange’s victory marked the 11th time an amateur has captured the Open Championship. Only amateur’s James B. McHale, Jr. (1948), William Hyndman, III (1968-69), R. Jay Sigel (1975, 77-78, 80, 86-87) and Brown (1997) have ever captured Open titles.
With Philadelphia CC playing long and difficult, Lange proved a model of consistency – at least as close as one could on this day. He made four bogeys and four birdies in the first round. On the final 18 holes, he registered four bogeys and three birdies.
Lange never strayed too far from a fairway or green all day. And on his final nine, he separated himself from the rest of the field with two fantastic birdies. On No. 1 (par 4, 325 yards), his 28th hole the Bryn Mawr, Pa. resident dropped a Lob Wedge to three feet. On No. 2 (par 4, 353 yards), Lange landed a 52-degree wedge 15 feet from the hole before making the putt for another birdie.
"That separated me from everyone else," said Lange. "I knew that."
Lange kept the round together after that with four pars and three bogeys.
He bogeyed the last two holes with the result well in hand.
"I knew at the 34th hole I had a three or four-shot lead," said Lange, "but I still felt pretty nervous."
Quinn posted a 71 in the morning trailing only Lange. His position never changed the rest of the day. The 38-year-old Marlton, N.J. resident posted a 72 in his final round, never seriously making a run at the leader.
"I couldn’t get the speed of the greens in the afternoon," said Quinn, who did take home the top professional prize of $4,400. Amateurs are not eligible for prize money. "I was parring everything and then I made a couple of bad swings coming in. I could never really challenge him."
Quinn surprised himself with the top finish. He just missed qualifying for the PGA Championship by a stroke after a strong push at the recent Club Professional’s Championship.
Being so close, Quinn assessed his game and made some swing changes, for what he called the long run. Today, he finally witnessed some positive results.
NOTES-The total purse for the Open Championship was $23,250. The top 15 professionals received prize money … Verrecchio played from the same set of tees as the male competitors. She qualified at the Philadelphia Section of the PGA Open Qualifier at Downingtown CC. There, under section standards, she played from 82 percent of the golf course.