We arrived at Whitemarsh Valley Country Club on a perfect golf day with the course in superb condition. The George C. Thomas designed course, with its many elevation changes and challenging greens, is the kind of course you want to play over and over. With the history of past champions from the Whitemarsh Open Invitational like Jack Nicklaus(3 time winner), Arnold Palmer, Billy Caspar, and Patty Berg looking down from the Wall of Fame, Philly Metro players were geared up to settle the Race to Pinehurst.
Division 1 saw AB Behura and Bobby Booth(42-35-77) locking horns as they both have their eyes set on Player of the Year honors. Behura raced out to a 6 shot lead at the turn after posting a rock solid even par 36 while Booth struggled to find his footing. Booth found solid ground on hole ten and started his back nine charge with back to back birdies on 10 and 11. He would go on to post a superb score of one under par 35 on the back chasing Behura down on the 17th hole. Needing a Par on 18 to force a playoff, he came up just short as AB hung on for a well deserved victory with a final score of 76. It should be a heck of race coming down the stretch for D1 Player of the Year.
It was a four player race in Division 2 with Mark Monkhouse(41-44-85) and Dave Baca(41-46-87) going out in 41 to hold the lead after nine. Rocky Dare(43-40-83) and Dave DiValentino(43-39-82) were lurking right behind two shots back. Monkhouse and Baca stumbled on some crooked numbers, leaving Dare and DiValentino to battle it out. DiValentino strung together 5 pars to end the round and take the victory by one stroke with Dare in second.
What is quickly becoming known as the “The Playoff “ division, D3 had another three man sudden death to determine the winner. Three other players tee’d off on the 18th hole with a shot at being in the playoff with a par. It’s a contentious division with the competitive thermometer raising up every event. Rick Knepp(42-41-83) won his second playoff of the year with a big time shot from the left rough to four feet on the very first playoff hole. He drained the putt earning his second playoff victory of the year and his fourth Amateur Players Tour win of 2021. Josh Numbers(41-42-83), fresh off his victory at Crystal Springs, and Steve Winnick(42-41-83) who came in with ascending form, tied for second. It will be a barnburner to the Steel Club to crown the PoY in this division.
Division 4 ended in a flurry as Larry Barber, Mike Byrne and Jim Bulicki came down the stretch with one shot separating them. On the 17th hole Bulicki was down two to Byrne and Barber who were teeing off in the group in front on 18. Bulicki stepped up and sunk a birdie on 17 to bring him within one. Meanwhile, on the Par 4 18th hole, Barber lag putted, leaving himself a two and half foot putt for Par while Byrne was laying three, thirty-two feet from the hole. The old adage about pressure making diamonds and busting pipes was fully in play. Mike “Diamond” Byrne(42-44-86) stepped up and rolled in the thirty-two footer, then coolly collected it from the hole, putting all the pressure back on Barber(47-40-87). Unfortunately the pipes would burst as Barber’s putt lost speed and missed low giving Byrne his second victory of the season. Bulicki(44-43-87)would Par the 18th to tie for second.
David Garrett (50-48-98) posted his second victory of the year with an 8 stroke win to punctuate what has been an excellent season with two wins and two second place finishes putting him in a commanding position to take Player of the year in Division 5.
Congratulations to all of the winners. We look forward to great playoff races to determine the Philly Metro Player of the Year in each division!