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Philadelphia announces Compher Cup team

   The Golf Association of Philadelphia announced its 2009 Compher Cup Matches team today.

2009 Compher Cup roster

John Brennan, Spring Ford CC

Michael Brown, Philadelphia Publinks GA

Mike Danner, Lu Lu CC

James Donnelly, Merion GC

Chris Esbenshade, Five Ponds GC

Robert Galbreath, Jr., Huntingdon Valley CC

Jeffrey Griest, Waynesborough CC

Sean Leonard, Tavistock CC

Rand Mendez, Fieldstone GC

Stephen Seiden, Concord CC

Glenn Smeraglio, Commonwealth National GC

David West, Whitford CC

   The 47th annual matches, which pit Philadelphia against the New Jersey State Golf Association, will be held April 21 at Hollywood Golf Club in Deal, N.J. To date, the Golf Association of Philadelphia leads the series, 31–11–4.

   Glenn Smeraglio of Commonwealth National Golf Club will captain the Philadelphia squad. This marks Smeraglio’s eighth Compher Cup appearance, but first as team captain.

   It always feels good,” he said. “We work all year to try to get on there. This is a nice perk.”

   Smeraglio, 49, of Newtown, Pa., expects to lead the squad to victory this year.

   "You don’t want to be a losing captain,” he said in jest.

   In the Compher Cup, each association fields a 12-man team with players simultaneously competing in a singles match and four-ball match. There are a total of 18 possible points. Matches that end in a tie result in a half point for the team.

   In addition to Smeraglio, returning to the Compher Cup Matches for Philadelphia are (appearances in parentheses): Mike Danner of Lu Lu Country Club (second), Stephen Seiden of Concord Country Club (second), Sean Leonard of Tavistock Country Club (second), Robert Galbreath, Jr. of Huntingdon Valley Country Club (second) and Michael Brown of Philadelphia Publinks Golf Association of Philadelphia Association (fourth).

   The newcomers to the Compher Cup Matches are David West of Whitford Country Club, John Brennan of Spring Ford Country Club, James Donnelly of Merion Golf Club, Jeffrey Griest of Waynesborough Country Club, Rand Mendez of Fieldstone Golf Club and Chris Esbenshade of Five Ponds Golf Club.

   West, 49, of Downingtown, Pa., looks forward to competing in his first Compher Cup Matches.

   "I feel honored,” he said. “It has a lot of good players.”

   West believes a strong 2008 season helped his Compher Cup candidacy.

   "I had more time to work on my game, and it paid off. I finished as high as I ever did in the points,” he said.

   Like West, Brennan, 30, of Norristown, is happy to be a member of the Philadelphia team this year.

   "It’s pretty exciting,” he said. “When you look at the guys who have played the Compher Cup Matches in the past, it’s an honor to have your name on that list.”

   Participating in last year’s Mason-Dixon Matches has prepared Brennan for the upcoming Compher Cup Matches.

   "I’m sure it will be the same thing,” Brennan said.

   In 2008, Team Philadelphia defeated New Jersey at Pine Valley Golf Club. The squad has won the last three meetings with its Jersey counterparts, and 11 of the past 12.

   For the Hollywood GC, this is the fourth time hosting the Compher Cup Matches. It hosted the inaugural Compher Cup in 1962.

   Smeraglio played Hollywood in 2005’s Compher Cup, which was eventually cancelled due to severe weather.

   "I got to play 14 holes,” he said. “It’s a solid golf course. The greens are very fast.”

   Brennan has never played at Hollywood GC, but his friend, Doug Zelner of Spring Ford Country Club, has informed him of its features.

   He says it’s an awesome golf course,” Brennan said. “It’s a great 18 holes.”

   As a newcomer, West hopes to prevail in the Compher Cup Matches.

   "I would expect to beat whoever I play,” he said.

   Fred Compher, a former New Jersey State Golf Association president, conceived the neighborhood matches after leaving his post in 1959. Compher donated a silver trophy that year earmarked for such a rivalry.

   In 1961, association representatives Bob Jacobson of New Jersey and Richard Ollmah of GAP completed the details. In 1962, the first Compher Cup matches took place. That year, the NJSGA side forged a 5–1 lead in the morning foursomes’ competitions and held serve in the afternoon singles matches for an 11½–6½ victory.

   After the New Jersey victory, Compher himself, who was known at the time as the most successful NJSGA president in its history, presented the trophy “to promote golf between the groups.”

   For a year-by-year history and individual player records, go to www.gapgolf.org.

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