Defending #BMWPhillyAm Champion McDermott heads to Elite Eight
FLOURTOWN, Pa.â€“Reigning BMW Philadelphia Amateur Champion Michael McDermott and his title defense remain alive. The 42-year-old long-hitter survived a pair of grueling matches in the 117th BMW Philadelphia Amateur Championship on Wednesday at Philadelphia Cricket Club (Wissahickon) to advance to the Elite Eight.
McDermott edged fellow Merion clubmate Peter Bradbeer in 19 holes in a morning Round of 32 match before gutting out a 2&1 victory hours later over Jack Melville of Lu Lu Country Club in the Round of 16.
McDermott is a three-time Amateur Champion (2008, 2013, 2016). With a victory, he would join legends J. Wood Platt of Whitemarsh Valley Country Club (seven times) and Harold McFarland of Huntingdon Valley Country Club (four times) as the only players with four or more Amateur titles.
â€śI feel pretty fortunate right now. I survived two really tough matches against two really good young players (both players are 19 years old),â€ť said McDermott of Bryn Mawr, Pa., the No. 17 seed. â€śI think both guys played better than me today but I gutted it out. These are long days. I was getting tired at the end. Your brain sort of melts down a little bit. I had to fight mentally and physically. I think itâ€™s definitely experience. I canâ€™t explain winning those two matches but somehow Iâ€™m here.â€ť
The McDermott-Melville encounter was tense throughout. Neither player had more than a 1-up lead in the first 15 holes played. McDermott outdistanced Melville, of Maple Glen, Pa., by upwards of 75 yards at times, but the University of Delaware sophomore stayed in the moment and consistently hit hybrids and long-irons into the center of greens and made par.
McDermott finally put some space between himself and the subdued Melville on No. 8 (par 4, 365 yards). He drained an unexpected 60-foot birdie, putting from the bottom right to a middle left hole location.
â€śI was not expecting that. When he made that I knew I had to make mine,â€ť said Melville, who had a 40-footer for birdie to halve the hole. â€śItâ€™s tough to make long putts out there. I know heâ€™s a great player and three-time champ in this. I just tried to stick to my game plan and hang with him and see how it turns out. I knew pars would most likely halve the hole. I was just trying to get on the green and have a look for birdie.â€ť
Melville implemented that strategy to a tee in his Round of 32 match, shocking top seed John Brennan of Philadelphia Cricket Club, 3&2. Brennan finished at 4-under in qualifying yesterday.
McDermottâ€™s morning contest was even more stressful; he stood 1-down in the middle of the 18th fairway. Beginning on No. 13 (par 4, 447 yards), Bradbeer made a furious charge, turning a 3-down deficit into a 1-up advantage. On No. 18, both players found the fairway. Bradbeerâ€™s approach came up just short left, though, but still in prime position to make par. McDermott needed to force the issue and did. He launched a 5-iron from 205 yards that caught the left ridge of green and stopped 15 feet from the cup. Bradbeer chipped up to five feet, but no matter, McDermott drained his birdie. On No. 19 (No. 1, par 4, 422 yards), a focused McDermott hammered a drive, hit a lob wedge from 68 yards to eight feet and two putted for the win. Bradbeerâ€™s game wasnâ€™t as sharp.
McDermott faces Delaware buzzsaw Jay Whitby of Wild Quail Golf & Country Club Thursday at 7:30 a.m. Whitby, 30, of Wyoming, Del., distanced both his opponents Wednesday winning, 4&3 and 6&5, respectively. Whitby, who advanced to BMW Philadelphia Amateur Quarterfinals a year ago, is a three-time Delaware State Golf Association Amateur Champion.
Others victors were: Lu Lu Country Club mates P.J. Acierno and Michael R. Brown, Jr.; Grant Skyllas of LedgeRock Golf Club; Sam Soeth of White Manor Country Club; and host club hopefuls Gregor Orlando and Conrad Von Borsig. Von Borsig, the 2009 Amateur champion, is the only other former winner still alive.
Von Borsig won the final three holes to turn a 1-down deficit into a 1-up victory over David Hicks of Wildwood Golf & Country Club. On No. 18 (par 4, 483 yards), the powerful swinging right-hander knocked a 7-iron from 187 yards to 10 feet, and drained the putt to cap his comeback.
â€śI like this tournament. Match play suits me. Iâ€™m really wild and can make big numbers. And that doesnâ€™t really come into play in match play,â€ť said the affable Von Borsig, 30, of Philadelphia, Pa. â€śBeing on your home course helps a lot. Youâ€™re comfortable on every shot. Even more so, you know exactly how good or bad your opponentâ€™s next shot is going to be and that can dictate your strategy quite a bit.â€ť
Von Borsig faces Skyllas, 30, of Reading, Pa., in the quarterfinals. Their match begins at 7:52 a.m.
Golf Association of Philadelphia
Round of 16
Round of 32