McDermott wins Philly Amateur

Michael McDermott receives the championship trophy from Aronimink official Michael Higgins.
Michael McDermott receives the championship trophy from Aronimink official Michael Higgins. (CHARLES FOX / Staff)
Posted: June 23, 2013

It might have been a rude awakening for Michael McDermott after he finished tied for third in the 36-hole, stroke-play qualifying to enter match play in the 113th Philadelphia Amateur.

"The younger guys came up to me and said, 'Good playing, Mr. McDermott,' " the 38-year-old Merion and Pine Valley member said with a chuckle. "That's really depressing."

In a championship where players under 25 held 22 of the 32 match play spots, McDermott more than held his own. He concluded a strong week Saturday at Aronimink Golf Club by defeating 20-year-old college junior Alex Hicks, 5 and 4, in the 36-hole final to capture his second Amateur title.

McDermott, who lives in Bryn Mawr and works in wealth management, played like the seasoned golfer he is. In 87 holes of match play, he won 37 of them while losing only 10. Of his five matches, he trailed for just one hole - when Hicks won No. 2 Saturday morning, a hole that McDermott got back on No. 3.

Experience and patience helped, especially in knowing what to do when some clubs in the bag aren't behaving. McDermott struggled with his driving Saturday, hitting only five fairways out of a possible 25 for the duration of his match.

He said physical exhaustion "obviously added to the less-than-stellar play."

With Aronimink's firm and fast greens back after rain earlier in the week, both players needed to grind. McDermott was 2-up at the lunch break despite a score of 6-over-par 76 for the morning 18.

The match may have turned in the afternoon on the third hole, the 22d of the match. After Hicks knocked his approach shot to 15 feet, McDermott struck his to 7 feet and made the birdie putt after Hicks missed. McDermott later went 4-up winning No. 7 with a bogey.

"I never thought I was out of it but 3-up, I guess mentally, seems a lot nicer than 4-up," said Hicks, a Middle Township High graduate who stars at William and Mary. "I didn't give myself the best opportunities, or I just wasn't capitalizing on the opportunities I gave myself."

McDermott won 11 and 12 to go 6-up with six to play.

For McDermott, who has won seven Golf Association of Philadelphia major tournaments - two Amateurs, four Middle-Amateurs, and one Patterson Cup - the win continued his comeback from an intestinal disorder that sidelined him for much of the summer of 2012. Since returning, he has won the prestigious Crump Cup at Pine Valley, a Middle Amateur, and an Amateur.

"I was in the hospital a year ago today," he said. "Everything's fine, my health is great. I'm just on a run that I had never envisioned."

Contact Joe Juliano at Follow on Twitter @JoeJulesInq

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