It was the fourth hole of a sudden-death playoff for the championship of the 105th Pennsylvania Open and Alex Blickle figured a solid shot on his 206-yard approach from the left rough would give him the 2-putt he would need to make par and still be alive.
Blickle got a little more than that; much more, in fact. His 7-iron on the par-4 first hole at Philadelphia Cricket Club hit perfectly in front of the slope guarding the pin and jumped up level with the pin only 2 feet away.
Blickle tapped the putt in for a birdie to outlast Jeff Osberg on a brutally hot day and take the title plus the $8,000 first-prize check given to the low professional.
“My plan wasn’t to get it to that back slope,” said Blickle, 29, a mini-tour pro from Reading. “It was to get it in front and give myself the best chance of a two-putt par as possible. The guy I played with in regulation actually went over the green and I saw how dead that was.
“So I figured that was a miss I couldn’t make. So I just hit one really, really pure right at the flag and it happened to get up top. With that admittance that I wasn’t trying to get it all the way back there, it’s certainly one of the best results in the best situations.”
Blickles’ final-round 71 ended with a birdie at the 18th that forced the playoff at even-par 210 with Osberg, who fired a 73. Each contestant went par-bogey-par in the playoff at 18, 1 and 18 before Blickle finally decided it.
Osberg, 37, a four-time Golf Association of Philadelphia player of the year, almost led from wire-to-wire after opening with a 5-under-par 65, carding eight birdies in his first 29 holes to get to 6-under at one point in the second round. However, the birdies stopped falling in his final 29 holes — zero, to be exact, including some good looks on the greens.
“When I came off nine, I said, ‘I’m still hitting it good, let’s see how many birdie looks I can get and one’s going to fall,’” the Pine Valley member said. “I had a good look on 11, 13, 14, but the same thing as [Tuesday]. I made some good par saves, on 15, a bogey on 16. For some reason my par putts were going in but I couldn’t get a birdie putt to go in [Tuesday] or today.”
Overbrook’s Trevor Bensel, playing in the last group, shot 73 and tied for third at 212 with Finley Mason of the Cricket Club, who shot a 70. Anthony Sebastianelli of Clarks Summit fired the day’s best round, a 69, and finished in a four-way tie for fifth at 214.