HVCC's Osberg defeats Spring Mill's Crawford in #GAPOpen playoff
A little more than 17 years after Rick Osberg’s victory in the Open Championship his son Jeff followed suit to become just the second father-duo to accomplish that feat (the first pro-amateur combination).
Early Tuesday morning, Jeff Osberg birdied the last hole to defeat Chris Crawford by a stroke, 17-18, in a four-hole aggregate playoff for the 112th Open Championship at The Ridge at Back Brook (par 71, 7,031 yards). A lengthy weather delay Monday afternoon, forced the two players to return to the site where both finished the 36 holes of regulation at even-par 142.
“It’s awesome. I grew up idolizing my dad,” said Jeff, 32, of Bryn Mawr, Pa. “Obviously he was one of the better players in the Philadelphia Section for a long time. To have my name on the same trophy as him is pretty incredible.”
Rick won his title in 1999 at Waynesborough Country Club, where he was the head golf pro at the time.
The Osbergs join the Griffins as the only father-son duos to earn victories. George and George, Jr., both professionals from Green Vally Country Club, won titles in 1932 and 1953, respectively.
While Rick’s victory was pretty comfortable, four strokes, Jeff’s was in doubt until the very end.
Crawford of Spring Mill Country Club and Osberg of Huntingdon Valley Country Club were tied at 14 strokes apiece standing on No. 9 (par 4, 410 yards) tee, the last hole of the playoff rotation.
Crawford knocked his 3-wood tee shot right and Osberg ripped driver left, barely flying the fairway bunker. It ended up in the rough.
On Monday, Crawford double-bogeyed No. 9, his final hole of the day to relinquish a two-shot lead to groupmate Osberg. Osberg parred the last hole. Osberg, Crawford and John DiMarco, the professional at Laurel Creek Country Club, were all paired together.
Today, staring at the same yardage, 160 yards, though with a better lie – he was in thicker rough farther to the right on Monday – Crawford knocked an 8-iron to 30 feet. Yesterday, his 9-iron found the left hazard adjacent to the putting green.
Osberg with a “comfortable” distance, 104 yards, lifted his 56-degree wedge from the rough up-and-over the front guarding greenside bunker to four feet.
Crawford’s long birdie try came up a little short; Osberg’s found the bottom of the cup.
“I tried to not think too much about what it meant,” said Osberg. “I pictured my son, honestly, he’s seven months old and all he does is laugh non-stop. I kind of thought to myself if he was here watching me, he’d be over in the corner kicking his feet and laughing.”
Said Crawford, 22, of Bensalem, Pa., “I got a little lucky that [my drive] kicked into the first cut. The ball was way above my feet. With an 8-iron, it’s not a shot that’s easy to hit close. I fully expected Jeff to hit something on the green and have a makeable putt. But at the same time I knew I couldn’t flirt with the hole too much because it was so easy to produce a pull hook off that lie.”
The prior three playoff holes were a bit Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde for both players.
Osberg grabbed a one-stroke lead with a par on No. 6 (par 4, 409 yard), though it could have been more. Crawford, a rising Drexel University senior academically who has exhausted his college playing eligibility, saved bogey after pulling his 9-iron long and left of the green. Osberg watched his six-foot birdie try stay outside the cup.
Both players made good par saves on No. 7 (par 5, 593 yards). Osberg came up short of the green and two putted from about 10 yards short of the green. Crawford went long with his approach, but made a nice up-and-down capped by a 10-foot putt. Osberg led nine strokes to 10.
On No. 8 (par 3, 169 yards), Osberg, with honors pulled his 7-iron tee shot into the left lateral water hazard. He chose to re-tee, this time with a 6-iron, and put his third shot 20 feet from the cup. Crawford put his 7-iron on the front portion of the putting surface, 50 feet shy of the cup. His six-footer for par came up shy of the hole. He made a bogey. Osberg made a double bogey.
“I played a lot of good golf this week,” said Crawford. “I played with Jeff all day yesterday and we had a good time battling it out. I’m happy with how I played most of the day, but very disappointed how I played the last 13 holes, if you include the playoff. Jeff is a great champion.”
Crawford, who made headlines by qualifying for the U.S. Open at Oakmont Country Club in June, held the top-spot of the leaderboard from the get go on Monday. He finished the first round with a 4-under 67, four shots clear of the field. Osberg was in the group chasing at even par. With nine holes to go, Crawford was six shots ahead of his nearest pursuer, that being Osberg. However, a couple of three putts combined with two Osberg birdies and a ninth-hole collapse put the two in a deadlock after 36 holes.
This was the seventh consecutive Open victory by an amateur, an unprecedented streak. From 1903-2007, there were only 12 amateur champions in total, and only twice before were the wins back-to-back.
Greg Matthias, an assistant professional at Tavistock Country Club, earned the $7,000 low professional prize. Matthias, 26, of Haddonfield, N.J. finished at 4-over-par 146.
NOTES–The field consisted of 47 amateurs and 31 professionals … There was a 1:40 weather delay at 3:18 p.m. on Monday … Brandon Matthews of Lu Lu Country Club, the reigning Open Champion, did not defend his title.
Golf Association of Philadelphia