Osberg, Hargrove to play for Philadelphia Amateur title

Jeff Osberg is slated to go head-to-head with Haverford School and Brown graduate Nelson Hargrove in the 36-hole final.
Jeff Osberg is slated to go head-to-head with Haverford School and Brown graduate Nelson Hargrove in the 36-hole final. (MATTHEW HALL / Staff Photographer)
Posted: June 13, 2014

Jeff Osberg reached into his wallet and pulled out tip money for his caddie. A $2 bill fluttered loose, and he tried to hand to it to his wife, Blaire.

She would have none of it. Osberg's semifinal victory Wednesday at the Philadelphia Amateur Championship meant he would need to hold on to the good-luck charm a little longer.

The ninth-seeded Osberg, who defeated Ray Thompson, 5 and 4, will play Nelson Hargrove, a 5 and 4 winner against Ben Feld, in the 36-hole final Saturday at White Manor Country Club.

A friend from his Huntingdon Valley Country Club gave Osberg the $2 bill before the opening round, but he has hardly needed luck. Since winning his round-of-32 match, 1-up, the 29-year-old from West Chester has closed out each of his last three matches with at least five holes remaining.

Thompson, the 1972 Amateur winner, was vying, at age 62, to become the oldest player to win the event in its modern era.

Osberg's run to his first Amateur final would have been unthinkable this time a year ago, when he could hardly walk, let alone play golf.

On the eve of the sectional qualifier for the U.S. Open last May, an old back injury flared up, and Osberg woke without feeling in his legs. He lost all function in his left leg for six weeks.

Last October, Osberg underwent his second major back surgery. He did not return to golf seriously until the end of March.

"My swing has changed a little bit," Osberg said. "I can't bring the club back as far, but I've managed to get the ball around the course - sometimes uglier than I'd like. But the ball is going in the hole, and that's kind of what matters."

Hargrove, a Haverford native who played at Haverford School, graduated from Brown last month. He came into the tournament seeded 26th, but he doesn't see himself as a long-shot contender.

Hargrove lost the Ivy League championship in a playoff last month and since returning home has been training steadily at his Gulph Mills Golf Club.

"I knew I was playing well coming into this week," Hargrove said. "Some people might not have seen it coming, but I kind of thought of myself as a favorite."


tmcmanus@philly.com

@ByTimMcManus

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