Bartolacci Gains Playoff For Patterson Cup A Six-foot Birdie On The Last Hole Allowed The Temple Senior To Meet Mike Gregor And Greg O'connor.

Posted: August 10, 2000

On a day as sultry as yesterday, when hazy sun and high humidity baked the contestants in the Patterson Cup to a crisp, it was difficult to keep an emotional even keel. But if there was one example of maintaining one's cool in this steambath, it came from Christian Bartolacci.

After appearing as if he had a lock on the major stroke-play event of the Golf Association of Philadelphia season, Bartolacci bogeyed five holes on his final nine of the day. But the Temple senior persevered and drained a six-foot birdie putt on his 36th and final hole to edge into a playoff for the championship.

The late heroics by Bartolacci, of Jericho National Golf Club, enabled him to post a 5-over-par 75 at Huntingdon Valley Country Club, good for a 36-hole score of 3-over 144, the same figure as Mike Gregor and Greg O'Connor.

Gregor, who like Bartolacci and O'Connor played at Commonwealth National Golf Club in the morning before moving to Huntingdon Valley in the afternoon, fired a second-round 70 that included bogeys on the final two holes. O'Connor birdied the 15th and 17th holes for an afternoon 69.

The three men will meet in an 18-hole playoff at Huntingdon Valley at a date to be determined. None should have a problem finding the course. Gregor and O'Connor are members. Bartolacci caddies there frequently.

Bartolacci, one of two players to shoot a 69 in his morning round to take the early lead, made the afternoon turn at 1 under for 27 holes. But things started to unravel on his 11th hole, the second at Huntingdon Valley. He bogeyed that hole, along with his 12th, 14th, 15th and 17th holes. He couldn't put a finger on what happened.

"I don't know. I thought I was doing the same things I had been doing all day," the Langhorne resident said. "But I kept making bogey after bogey. The thing is, if you miss a shot [at Huntingdon Valley], you get penalized more than if you miss a shot at Commonwealth. But before that, I had been pretty consistent."

On his last hole, a 460-yard par 4, Bartolacci had a wedge to the green and stopped it to within six feet. Once he got there, his father, Wayne Bartolacci, who had completed his day in the event, told him, "Make it."

"I really didn't know where I stood," the younger player said. "I didn't know if I had to make it to win or to get into a playoff. But I'm glad it went in.

"I had a good day, and I played well. I didn't play that last nine well. But I'm proud of myself for making that birdie on 18."

Gregor, 37, of North Wales, has contended for the Patterson Cup championship before. He lost in a three-way playoff in 1991 and placed second on two other occasions. Yesterday, finishing well before Bartolacci, he missed the green on the eighth and ninth holes - his last two of the day - and bogeyed them. After his five-footer at the last hole lipped out, he felt he was out of the hunt.

"Oh, absolutely," he said. "It's a relief to have a chance. I didn't think 144 was going to do it, but it's like having a second life."

Gregor, an insurance and investment planner, did get himself into contention with birdies at the first, second and seventh holes.

O'Connor, 25, of Wayne, a former star at Villanova who now works for SEI Investments, drained birdie putts at the 15th and 17th holes to gain his reservation in the playoff, something he didn't expect.

"I heard Bartolacci was playing well out there," O'Connor said. "I figured I had a slim chance, not a strong chance. But I got it around OK. There were no big mistakes."

Notes. Glenn Smeraglio of Yardley, the 1998 Patterson Cup champion, tied for ninth at 147, but that figure was good enough for him to win the Silver Cross, awarded to the player who returns the low 72-hole score for the Patterson Cup and Philadelphia Amateur qualifying. Smeraglio's aggregate of 291 was 1 stroke better than Bartolacci and two ahead of Merion's Craig Cochran. . . . Gary Daniels of Aronimink fired an afternoon 71 at Huntingdon Valley to finish 1 stroke out of the playoff at 145. . . . Robin McCool of Saucon Valley, who was tied for the lead with Bartolacci at 69 after the morning round, shot a 77 in the afternoon to finish in a four-way tie for fifth at 146.

The results

(Huntingdon Valley score first)

x-Christian Bartolacci, Jericho National... 75-69-144

x-Mike Gregor, Huntingdon Valley........... 70-74-144

x-Greg O'Connor, Huntingdon Valley ........ 69-75-144

Gary Daniels, Aronimink.................... 71-74-145

Michael Soroka, Melrose.................... 72-74-146

Glenn Sekella, Spring-Ford................. 76-70-146

Robin McCool, Saucon Valley................ 77-69-146

Chris Lange, Overbrook..................... 72-74-146

Andy Achenbach, LuLu....................... 75-72-147

Craig Cochran, Merion...................... 75-72-147

Glenn Smeraglio, Yardley................... 75-72-147

Jamie Slonis, Little Mill.................. 76-72-148

Sam McFall, Waynesborough.................. 73-75-148

Mike McDermott, Llanerch................... 74-75-149

Mike Moffat, Philadelphia Publinks......... 77-72-149

Vince Covello, Llanerch ................... 77-72-149

Oscar Mestre, Overbrook.................... 75-74-149

Gary Smith, Huntingdon Valley.............. 74-76-150

Charles McClaskey, Chantilly Manor......... 71-79-150

Matt Hancock, Philadelphia Publinks........ 74-76-150

x-will play off for championship

Joe Juliano's e-mail address is jjuliano@phillynews.com

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