*William Hyndman, III Player of the Year standings
Spring Ford CC’s Steinmetz sets record, wins Open ChampionshipLITITZ, Pa.–On a day when birdies and eagles came in bunches for many, Rich Steinmetz registered more than any other.
“Awesome. I’ve come close a couple of times. It’s one of the top wins in my career,” said Steinmetz, the 2006 Philadelphia Section of the PGA Player of the Year and 2007 Sectional Championship winner.
Adam Condello, an assistant professional at Aronimink GC, and Mark Sheftic, the teaching professional at Merion GC, tied for second at 6 under. Conrad Von Borsig of Concord CC earned Low Amateur honors with a 4-under-par 138.
Defending champion Greg Pieczynski, a teaching professional at the Academy of Golf Center and the first-round leader, finished at 4 under as well.
Steinmetz’s total, in relation to par, eclipsed Joseph Lewis of Tredyffrin CC’s previous mark of 8-under-par 136 set at Llanerch CC in 1942. Gene Feiger of Overbrook GC held the lowest aggregate Open total when he shot a 135 at Laurel Creek CC in 1995. Steinmetz's aggregate score was 132.
“I hit the ball about the same in both rounds but I was hitting more shots really close in [the second round],” said Steinmetz, 37, of Gilbertsville, Pa. “I had a couple of good five to 10 footers as well. My wedge game was really on. I put myself in good position to have wedges in and I hit a lot of shots tight.”
Steinmetz’s title run started on the first hole of his second 18. Playing the back nine first, Steinmetz knocked a wedge from 127 yards to a foot on No. 10 (par 4, 423 yards).
After that, the birdies came in rapid succession. On No. 12 (par 5, 518 yards), he two-putted from 50 feet after reaching the par 5 in two shots; drained a 30-footer on No. 13 (par 3, 148 yards); cracked a 7-iron from 165 yards to two feet on No. 16 (par 4, 456 yards); on No. 17 (par 4, 292 yards) flipped a wedge to five feet from 79 yards and concluded a front-nine 30 on No. 18 (par 5, 522 yards) with an up-and-down from the left greenside bunker that he hit to eight feet.
Steinmetz followed that up with a wedge from 120 yards to five feet on No. 1 (par 4, 431 yards). That’s seven birdies in 10 holes.
He bogeyed No. 4 (par 4, 403 yards) when he missed the green short and failed to get up-and-down in the middle of the short rain storm that blew in and caused a 45-minute delay, but responded with birdies on No. 6 (par 3, 169 yards) with a 6-iron to eight feet and No. 7 (par 4, 304 yards) with a wedge from 65 yards to about the same distance. He bogeyed No. 9 (par 5, 548 yards) after a poor chip, but in the end in didn’t matter.
He opened the Championship with a 3-under-par 68 in the morning.
The victory proved a bit of redemption for Steinmetz.
He missed a playoff for the 2002 Open at Pine Valley GC by a shot after bogeying four of the final five holes and was in contention at Merion GC in 2005 before struggling on the final nine.
“It’s a learning experience, [you] learn what fails in those situations and build on it from there,” said Steinmetz.
For the win, Steinmetz earned the $8,000 winner’s share.
Pieczynski, who moved to 10-under par two holes into the final round, eliminated himself from contention when he knocked two drives on his last nine holes, the front side, out of bounds. In all, he said, he took five penalty strokes.
“It was a lot of fun. I made a few mistakes in the second round and you can’t do that with the strength of the field that is here,” said Pieczynski, 26, of Kingston, Pa.
Von Borsig of Swarthmore, Pa., the reigning Amateur Champion, carded a pair of 69s en route to Low Amateur honors.
“That was my goal once I realized I wasn’t going to win the tournament,” said Von Borsig, 22. “I heard after [hole] 16 that Rich [Steinmetz] was 10 under. I was only 5 under at that time. I was playing with Michael Brown. Sometimes it’s frustrating when you know you aren’t going to win but I tried to play a tournament within the tournament and beat all the amateurs. Going into the summer winning the Player of the Year was a goal.” Von Borsig currently leads in the standings. Brown is second.
Overall, 18 of the 72 players, made up of 36 amateurs and 36 professionals, finished the two rounds under par.
In Round 1, the top of the leaderboard resembled a revolving door.
When all was done, Pieczynski emerged with a one-shot lead after carding an 8-under-par 63. Condello carded a 64 and 17-year-old amateur Tucker Koch of RiverCrest GC & Preserve posted a 65. In all 24 of the 72 players carded red figure rounds in the morning round.