FORT WASHINGTON, Pa.–Mike Meisenzahl’s opening qualifying round in the 111th Amateur Championship was moving comfortably along at Manufacturers G&CC – he was even par thru six holes on Tuesday – when it became that day. In a flash, the round went from mundane to extraordinary as Meisenzahl carded a spectacular 5-under 66. Pretty sensational considering it was his first-ever trip to Manufacturers G&CC. Difficult afternoon conditions, occasional rain, wind and the grind of a 36-hole qualifier, slowed the 23-year-old down at North Hills CC (1-over 72), but it didn’t stop Meisenzahl from earning medalist honors and the No. 1 match play seed. He finished the two rounds of the Amateur Championship Qualifier at 4-under-par 138, two shots clear of second-place finishers Robert Galbreath, Jr. of Huntingdon Valley CC and Matt Mattare of Saucon Valley CC.
Mike Meisenzahl of Little Mill CC (purple) walks off the 18th green at Manufacturers G&CC after carding a 5-under 66.
“I have nothing other to say than it feels great,” said Meisenzahl, a Medford, N.J. resident. “I talked a lot with my dad that I just wanted to get a good number in the house. My goal was even par. I made a couple good up-and-downs early and then the putter got hot. All of a sudden I started hitting it real close and giving myself opportunities for birdie. I left myself almost the easiest birdie putt on every green.”
The match play portion of the Amateur Championship begins Wednesday morning at 8 a.m. Meisenzahl will face the last survivor of an eight-player-for-seven-qualifying-positions playoff which begins at 7 a.m.
A recent James Madison University graduate, Meisenzahl opened his round at Manufacturers G&CC (par 71, 6,587 yards) with six successive pars before that happened and he registered four birdies and an eagle in the next six-hole stretch.
ROBERT GALBREATH, JR.
On No. 7 (par 5, 503 yards), he knocked his hydrid from 240 yards out on the green about 30 feet away and two putted for birdie; on No. 8 (par 3, 105 yards), the iconic drop hole, he stuffed a gap wedge to a foot; on No. 9 (par 5, 472 yards), he hit a 200-yard, 4-iron to 10 feet and drained the eagle try; on No. 11 (par 3, 175 yards), he ripped a 6-iron to 20 feet and holed the ensuing putt; and on No. 12 (par 5, 519 yards), he knocked a hybrid on from 225 yards to 20 feet and two putted.
Meisenzahl moved to 7 under after draining a smooth 18-foot left-to-right slider on No. 15 (par 5, 540 yards), but got in trouble on the final hole with a poor tee shot and ensuing three putt, his final two-foot bogey effort spinning around the entire hole.
At North Hills CC (par 71, 6,505 yards), Meisenzahl’s round wasn’t nearly as exciting.
Starting on the back nine, he registered one birdie and one bogey. One more bogey coming in, on No. 4 (par 5, 620 yards), resulted in a 1-over 72.
The Amateur Championship Qualifier also serves as the first two rounds of the Silver Cross Award. The Silver Cross is awarded to the player with the lowest aggregate score in the qualifying rounds of the Amateur Championship and the Patterson Cup.
Last year, Meisenzahl lost the Silver Cross to Jeff Osberg of Llanerch CC by a stroke.
“The Silver Cross means everything,” said Meisenzahl. “I think the Silver Cross means more to me than any single tournament. Winning the Silver Cross probably makes you the best golfer in the area. It proves you are the most consistent golfer over the course of the tournament schedule.”
Galbreath, 20, of Huntingdon Valley, Pa., and Mattare, 25, of Bethlehem, Pa., both finished at 2 under. Galbreath opened with a 68 at Manufacturers and finished with a 72 at North Hills. Mattare started with a 69 at Manufacturers and ended with a 71 at North Hills.
“Coming out I figured if I could make a few birdies early, that makes your day that much easier,” said Galbreath. “I was lucky I was in that position.”
NOTES–James Kania, Jr. of Overbrook GC pulled a Fred Couples of yesteryear on Manufacturers G&CC’s fourth hole (par 3, 184 yards). Kania, the 2009 Amateur runner-up, shanked his 8-iron drive out of bounds but re-teed and jarred his next shot for an improbable 3. “Right after I hit it I said just go in,” said Kania, 22, of Haverford, Pa. “It jumped up right and past the hole and spun back in.” Kania is still in search of his first regulation ace. Kania finished his two rounds with a 148 total … Kyle Sterbinsky of Yardley CC, the youngest competitor in the field at age 14 advanced into match play. Sterbinsky posted a 74 at North Hills CC in the morning and a 1-over 72 at Manufacturers G&CC in the afternoon for a 146 total. A recent graduate of Greynun Academy in Yardley, Pa., this was Sterbinsky’s first Amateur experience. “I just wanted to make the cut,” said Sterbinsky, who noted he putted well all day. Sterbinsky will either attend Holy Ghost Prep or the Peddie School next fall ... Last year’s champion, Justin Martinson of Hartefeld National turned professional in late May and, therefore, is ineligible to defend his title.
Meisenzahl, Little Mill Country Club
Mattare, Saucon Valley Country Club
Galbreath, Jr., Huntingdon Valley Country Club
Smeraglio, Mercer Oaks Golf Course
Charen, Makefield Highlands Golf Club
Burkhart, Meadia Heights Golf Club
Lange, Overbrook Golf Club
Zelner, Coatesville Country Club
Feld, Blue Bell Country Club
McNicholas, Commonwealth National Golf Club
Gramigna, Tavistock Country Club
Hyland, Little Mill Country Club
Ross, Glenmaura National Golf Club
Davis, Fieldstone Golf Club
Achenbach, RiverCrest Golf Club & Preserve
Daniels, Saucon Valley Country Club
Sanders, Laurel Creek Country Club
Pancoast, Radley Run Country Club
Hudacek III, Glenmaura National Golf Club
Mandel, Philadelphia Cricket Club
McDermott, Merion Golf Club
Kovalcheck, Lu Lu Country Club
Kania, Overbrook Golf Club
Sterbinsky, Yardley Country Club
Koch, RiverCrest Golf Club & Preserve
McNeil, Philadelphia Publinks GA
(8 players, 7 positions)
Lutz, LedgeRock Golf Club
Mason, Huntingdon Valley Country Club
Jarmas, Philadelphia Publinks GA
Bechtold, Loch Nairn Golf Club
Slonis, Tavistock Country Club
Kania, Jr., Overbrook Golf Club
Fuga, Phoenixville Country Club
Barron, III, Stone Harbor Golf Club
Simone, Philmont Country Club
Klee, Indian Valley Country Club
Finger, Wedgwood Country Club
Gill, Fox Hill Country Club
MMarty, Little Mill Country Club
Murphy, Mercer Oaks Golf Course
Martire, Seaview Resort & Spa
White, Manufacturers Golf & Country Club
Marcincin, Northampton Country Club
DiPasquale, Commonwealth National Golf Club
Brennan, Spring Ford Country Club
Brown, Huntsville Golf Club
West, Whitford Country Club
Feeney, Philadelphia Cricket Club
Fahey, Overbrook Golf Club
James, Five Ponds Golf Club
Wolfe, Cavaliers Country Club
Amole, Huntingdon Valley Country Club
Storck, Moselem Springs Golf Club
Bea, Spring Mill Country Club
O'Connor, Huntingdon Valley Country Club
Kelly, Jr., Applecross Country Club
Griest, Waynesborough Country Club
Kania, Jr., Merion Golf Club
Gelrod, Commonwealth National Golf Club
Seiden, Llanerch Country Club
Lange, Jr., Overbrook Golf Club
Chet Walsh, Philadelphia Country Club
Cooley, Lu Lu Country Club
Carr, Plymouth Country Club
Jeremiah, Bidermann Golf Club
Shin, Laurel Creek Country Club
Sullivan, Jr., Mercer Oaks Golf Course
Spano, Llanerch Country Club
Berman, Philadelphia Cricket Club
Hyland, Little Mill Country Club
Burton, Hartefeld National
Hartung, Doylestown Country Club
Mendez, Fieldstone Golf Club
Moffat, Five Ponds Golf Club
Arthur, Jr., Tavistock Country Club
Rothaus, Five Ponds Golf Club
Dalinka, The Ridge at Back Brook
Smith, Little Mill Country Club
Svigals, Radnor Valley Country Club
Muller, Manufacturers Golf & Country Club