June, 2007 --- Philip Bartholomew
Golf is a game of firsts: the first time you break 100, your first birdie, eagle and hole-in-one.
It's friendship, it's competition, it's a walk in the park. Golf is a game for life, and it's a sport where winning isn't always an option. Yet sometimes the sweet smell of victory comes ones way at it opens up all kinds of doors.
Enter Phil Bartholomew, the Yardley Country Club member who has been honing his game for a dozen years on area fairways as he's matured from junior player to adult. Now at Elon University, where he's an incoming sophomore, Bartholomew took a major step from good young player to champion when he became the first player from Lower Bucks County to claim the 107th Golf Association of Philadelphia's Amateur Championship.
The 19-year-old outdistanced cagy veteran and 1996 champion Bill McGuinness of Tavistock in their 36-hole match play finale, 2 and 1, at the Applebrook Country Club. With the victory Bartholomew joined superb players like R. Jay Sigel, William Hyndman, III, O. Gordon Brewer and Buddy Marucci as Philadelphia Amateur Champions.
"That's quite a list," said Bartholomew after his victory. "It hasn't quite sunk in yet. But I know that a lot of things had to fall into place for this to happen. It's an honor."
For his victory Bartholomew was named http://www.golfbuckscounty.com/ Player of the Month of June.
Lower Bucks County has had numerous players challenge for the Amateur Championship. Yardley, which has claimed 7 GAP Team Championships, has historically had a clubhouse full of outstanding golfers who contend...but who until this year came up short.
Yardley's Paul Rogowicz (2006) and Richboro's Duke Delcher (1976) came closest with runner-up finishes. Gary Deetscreek, now a pro at Warminster Five Ponds, won the 1981 championship while living outside Lower Bucks, while Clint Deibert earned the 2005 title while residing in Upper Bucks County and playing at Doylestown.
Bartholomew has seen his game evolve over the years as hours of practice paid off. He claimed the 2005 Helen Sigel Wilson Junior Invitational and was the first flight champion of the 91st GAP Junior Boys Championship that year and team with his father Philip to claim the TDGA Parent-Child Championship.
He earned a berth on the Yardley men's team 2006 that finished 2nd in the GAP team championship, then turned in a good freshman season at Elon. This summer he returned from college a tournament tested player that played a large role in Yardley's GAP team championship.
In the Amateur defeated Yardley's Mark Miller in the semifinals before securing the championship in the finals over McGuinness. Earlier rounds saw the Holy Ghost Preparatory School graduate advance through qualifying at 144 over 36-holes before ousting Huntington Valley's James Sullivan (4 and 3), Yardley's Glenn Smeraglio (5 and 4) and Penn Oak's Chris Gallagher (1-up).
"Phil has shown constant improvement and his game and is tournament tested," said 9-time Yardley men's champion Smeraglio. "He played a big part of our Team victory this year and he's now got a major feather in his tournament success story."
Bartholomew has been working on various aspects of his game with an eye toward becoming a consistent player.
"I played extremely well this week and am proud of the way I played," explained Bartholomew after his victory. "I've worked hard at my game, especially in the area of consistency. It's a learning experience but there are some very good signs. This victory is one of the best there can be."
He's in the running for the William Hyndman, III Player of the Year Award (currently 2nd to Penn Oaks' Chris Gallagher) and several GAP teams as his resume expands. The victory also comes with perks, as he earned an exemption into the Philadelphia Open as well as a lifetime (as long as he's an amateur) into the Philadelphia Amateur and a five-year exemption into the Patterson Cup.
The GAP Amateur Championship vaulted Bartholomew among the game's local elite players, and is the first step of hopefully many awards down the road.