A golf professional for only two years, Blake Hinckley was looking for that tournament where his game was clicking and where he was able to stand up to the pressure down the stretch.
That feeling came Wednesday in a big event – the 117th Philadelphia Open, the third major of the Golf Association of Philadelphia season, where Hinckley held off a number of challengers at the Country Club of York to win by one stroke.
“It’s a strange feeling just because you kind of go into every event thinking that you’re going to play well and that your game is in a good spot and everything,” said Hinckley, 24, who plays out of Wilmington Country Club and lives in Greenville, Del. “Obviously in golf, more times than not, it doesn’t work out that way, so it’s a good feeling to have it actually work out like that for once.”
Hinckley, a graduate of Unionville High School and the University of Maryland, fired a 1-under-par 69 to post a 36-hole final score of 5-under 135 and take the $6,000 first prize. Ron Robinson of LuLu shot a 67 and won low amateur honors with a 136 total.
Union League Liberty Hill teaching pro Billy Stewart, the 2018 Open champion, shared the first-round lead with Hinckley but couldn’t keep up on the back nine, and his 71 put him in a four-way tie for third at 137 with three amateurs: Little Mill’s Troy Vannucci (70), Talamore’s Patrick Sheehan (68), and Joshua Ryan of the 1912 Club (67).
Hinckley was 2-over par for his second round through eight holes and trailed Vannucci by two shots, but a birdie at the ninth touched off a six-hole stretch where he went 5-under par. The run included an eagle 2 at the 11th hole where he holed out a 87-yard approach with what he called “a little chip 56-degree wedge.”
Birdies on 13 and 14 got him to 6-under for the championship and into first place. Robinson stayed close but bogeyed the 18th to fall two shots behind, and Hinckley, after making a 4-foot par save at No. 17, only needed to make a bogey at 18 to claim the trophy.
“Going into  I knew I had a two-shot lead, so making that putt and then going into 18, sustaining that lead was big for me mentally just knowing that I had a little bit of wiggle room headed for the last hole,” he said.
Women’s Golf Association of Philadelphia
Defending champion Samantha Perrotta and qualifying medalist Jackie Rogowicz each won two matches and will compete in a 36-hole match Thursday for the championship of the 124th Philadelphia Women’s Match Play Championship at Saucon Valley Country Club’s Grace course.
Perrotta, of Philmont, posted a pair of 5 and 4 victories over Mary McGuinness of Tavistock and Suzi Spotleson of RiverCrest. Rogowicz, of Commonwealth National, eliminated Barbara Maralikova of Honeybrook, 5 and 3, and Casey Oppenheimer of Whitemarsh Valley, 4 and 3.