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Pieczynski takes shortened Open; McDermott finishes as low amateur

  BUCKINGHAM, Pa.ĖIntense lightning and rain forced Greg Pieczynski to wait 90 minutes before completing his one and only round of the weather-shortened Open Championship Wednesday at a scenic and challenging Lookaway GC (par 72, 6,901 yards). Pieczynski, a teaching professional at the Academy Golf School, stood at a tournament best 5-under par with his ball in the right rough on the final hole when players were forced off the golf course.

  When play resumed, the 25-year-old Kingston, Pa., resident, didnít miss a beat, smacking a smart 8-iron and stroking two solid putts for a par to register the greatest victory of his short professional career.

MICHAEL MCDERMOTT
  Pieczynskiís 5-under 67 finish put him two shots clear of the field and sent the second-year pro home with the $8,000 winnerís share. Michael McDermott of Merion GC, the reigning Amateur Champion and Player of the Year, and Dave McNabb, the head professional at Cavaliers CC, tied for second at 3-under par.

  "Even though I was in the prime position when I was sitting in [the clubhouse during the delay] I wasnít assuming it was only going to be one round," said Pieczynski, an aspiring PGA Tour hopeful. "You always have to assume itís going to go the distance. I was playing so well I was looking forward to going back out there."

  The Golf Association of Philadelphia tournament committee decided to reduce the championship from 36 to 18 holes after the lengthy stoppage and the threat of more weather loomed. Torrential rains and treacherous lightning stopped play at 2:38 p.m. The final two groups to complete their initial 18 holes of play returned to the golf course at 3:58 p.m. It was determined any more stoppages, and another was looming, would result in a lack of daylight.

Dave McNabb (right) with caddie Mark Parisi
on the 18th hole as the rain begins to fall.
  It was the first Open shortened to 18 holes since 1997.

  "That was the goal but itís still kind of a shock when you do it," said Pieczynski of winning the 104th Open. "Iíve been playing well all summer and had a good feeling [coming in here]."

  Pieczynski announced his championship intentions early. He hit a "hard" sand wedge from 120 yards on No. 1 (par 4, 378 yards) to six feet for birdie and then made a nice up-and-down from the greenside bunker on No. 3 (par 5, 573 yards) to get to 2 under.

  On No. 6 (par 3, 183 yards) Pieczynski rocketed a 6-iron to six feet for another birdie. He knocked his sand wedge over the green on No. 7 (par 4, 394 yards) to drop a shot, but responded in style on No. 9 (par 4, 355 yards) with a 40-foot birdie. He headed to the backside at 3-under and tied for the lead on a crowded scoreboard. At one point, four players were at 3-under par.

  A poor approach on No. 10 (par 4, 337 yards) resulted in a second bogey before Pieczynski birdied three of the final six holes. He lofted a gap wedge from 82 yards on No. 13 (par 5, 587 yards) to 10 feet; launched a 7-iron on No. 15 (par 3, 166 yards) to 20 feet and rocketed a 9-iron from 156 yards to 10 feet on No. 16 (par 4, 409 yards). He made a nice par saving 12-footer on No. 17 (par 5, 520 yards) after a poor drive and then after waiting an hour and a half, knocked his 8-iron from 168 yards on No. 18 into the center of the green.

  "I didnít take anything for granted. Some goofy things have been known to happen. I knew if I knocked it on the green and tried to make a birdie I would make an easy par," said Pieczynski, who has attended the PGA Tourís Q-School the last two years. "And fortunately, thatís what happened."

  McDermott, who in addition to holding the 2008 Amateur trophy, is also the reigning Middle-Amateur (2008) and Patterson Cup (2007) champion, was looking to become the first individual to hold all four of the Associationís Major titles at once. Instead, he finished as the Low Amateur for the third time in his career (2000, 2003).

  After a non-descript even-par front side, McDermott, 33, of Bryn Mawr, Pa., turned up the dial on No. 10 with a sand wedge from 100 yards to 10 feet for birdie. An 8-iron miss to the left of the green on No. 11 (par 3, 175 yards) temporarily stopped his momentum, but McDermott rebounded in a hurry with three birdies in his next four holes. He knocked a pitching wedge from 135 yards to 15 feet on No. 12 (par 4, 390 yards); hit a sand wedge to 10 feet on No. 13 (par 5, 587 yards) and an 8-iron to 10 feet on No. 15. McDermott had a chance to go even lower when he reached the par 5, 17th in two but three putted from 20 feet for a disappointing par.

  "No question," said McDermott if the weather was in the back of his mind. "I said letís play hard for 18. I got off to kind of a slow start, not bad, but I just wasnít hitting it great. Then I played a great back nine. I knew that that score was going to be around it and if someone played really well, like Greg did, then it was beatable."

  NOTESĖThe 72-player field was comprised of 40 amateurs and 32 professionals from the Philadelphia Section of the PGA of America or head professionals of GAP Member Clubs. Of those 72 players, 24 were exempt entrants and 48 were qualifiers from one of three sites. The Open carried a purse of $40,000 for the professionals Ö this was the first time the Open Championship has been competed at a Bucks County course Ö defending champion Mark Miller of Yardley CC struggled with the putter and finished at 3-over-par 75.

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  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 136 Member Clubs and 56,000 individual members are spread across parts of Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware and Maryland. The purpose of the Association is simple: To promote, protect and preserve the game of golf in the region.

Name

Club

Out

In

Total

Gregory Pieczynski

The Academy Golf Center

33

34

67

David McNabb

Cavaliers Country Club

33

36

69

(a) Michael McDermott

Merion Golf Club

36

33

69

(a) Chris Esbenshade

Five Ponds Golf Club

35

35

70

David Quinn

Links Golf Club

33

37

70

(a) David West

Whitford Country Club

36

35

71

(a) Greg Wolfe

Cavaliers Country Club

35

36

71

Hugh Reilly

Twining Valley Golf Club

34

37

71

Jason Panter

Sea Oaks GC

35

36

71

(a) Matthew Mattare

Saucon Valley Country Club

36

35

71

Michael Moses

Concord Country Club

35

36

71

(a) Nathan Sutherland

Golden Oaks Golf Club

36

35

71

(a) Sean Leonard

Tavistock Country Club

33

38

71

Stuart Ingraham

M Golf Driving Range

36

35

71

(a) Christopher Lange

Overbrook Golf Club

37

35

72

(a) Glenn Smeraglio

Yardley Country Club

38

34

72

Joey Pohle

Merion Golf Club

34

38

72

(a) John Brennan

Spring Ford Country Club

34

38

72

Mark Sheftic

Merion Golf Club

38

34

72

(a) Michael Brown

Philadelphia Publinks GA

37

35

72

Rich Steinmetz

Spring Ford Country Club

34

38

72

Travis Deibert

Commonwealth National Golf Club

34

38

72

(a) Tyler Brewington

Huntsville Golf Club

35

37

72

(a) Douglas Zelner

Spring Ford Country Club

38

35

73

(a) Geoffrey Cooper

Laurel Creek Country Club

37

36

73

George Forster

Radnor Valley Country Club

37

36

73

Graham Dendler

Trenton Country Club

32

41

73

(a) Justin Van Hyning

Olde York Country Club

36

37

73

Kevin Melrath

Sunnybrook Golf Club

35

38

73

(a) Mike Meisenzahl

Little Mill Country Club

36

37

73

Richie Krebs

Hanover Country Club

35

38

73

(a) Robert De Rojas

RiverCrest Golf Club & Preserve

38

35

73

William Sautter

Philadelphia Cricket Club

36

37

73

Brian Kelly

Bucknell Golf Club

37

37

74

(a) David Liotta

Whitemarsh Valley Country Club

38

36

74

Desmond Patrick Atkinson

Riverton Country Club

35

39

74

Jakob Gerney

Olde York Country Club

35

39

74

James Masserio, Sr.

Applebrook Golf Club

37

37

74

John Appleget

Cape May National

37

37

74

Rick Hughart

Tavistock Country Club

35

39

74

(a) Robert Dziak

Spring Ford Country Club

36

38

74

(a) Jack Wallace

Burlington Country Club

37

38

75

John Spina

Philadelphia Cricket Club

39

36

75

(a) Kyle Davis

Fieldstone Golf Club

37

38

75

(a) Mark Miller

Yardley Country Club

35

40

75

(a) Warren Taylor

Yardley Country Club

37

38

75

(a) Andrew Lawson

Hershey's Mill Golf Club

36

40

76

(a) Brian Gillespie

St. Davids Golf Club

37

39

76

(a) Cole Willcox

Philadelphia Country Club

37

39

76

(a) Eric Schmehl

Moorestown Field Club

38

38

76

Eric Dovre

Galloway National Golf Club

38

38

76

(a) Michael O'Keefe

Little Mill Country Club

37

39

76

(a) Robert Robertson

Sunnybrook Golf Club

40

36

76

Robert Agresti

Aronimink Golf Club

34

42

76

(a) Stephen Dressel

St. Davids Golf Club

40

36

76

Terry Hatch

Hidden Valley Golf Course

40

36

76

Mike Dynda

Blue Bell Country Club

35

42

77

(a) Philip Bartholomew

Yardley Country Club

37

40

77

(a) Pierce Dever

Jericho National Golf Club

37

40

77

Robert Shuey

Dauphin Highlands Golf Course

39

38

77

Bill Walker

Bala Golf Club

36

42

78

(a) Jeffrey Griest

Waynesborough Country Club

38

40

78

(a) Oscar Mestre, Jr.

Overbrook Golf Club

37

41

78

Peter Kowalinski

LedgeRock Golf Club

38

40

78

(a) Eric Spiller

Woodcrest Country Club

42

38

80

Jim Smith, Jr.

Philadelphia Cricket Club

38

43

81

(a) John Phillips

Olde York Country Club

43

38

81

(a) Zachary Davis

Makefield Highlands Golf Club

41

40

81

(a) David Goodman

Bucks County Golf Club

42

40

82

(a) Rich Pruchnik

West Chester Golf & Country Club

41

41

82

(a) Steve Ransom, Jr.

Wildwood Golf & Country Club

41

41

82

Andrew Barbin

Chesapeake Bay Golf Club

46

37

83

 

(a)-denotes amateur

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