Jeremy Wall described his golf game Saturday in terms that were flattering and unflattering.
“I can’t hit a driver, and I’ve got a crazy short game,” he said.
It’s the crazy short game that enabled Wall to become the first back-to-back champion of the BMW Philadelphia Amateur championship in 25 years, as he defeated Jeff Osberg, 3 and 2, on an ideal weather day at Stonewall in Chester County.
Over the 34 holes of the match, Wall, 23, went 11-for-14 on putts of 10 feet or less and his chipping saved him a number of times. He almost holed out a 40-yard pitch on the 10th hole of the afternoon session and made a 6-foot par putt there to halve the hole.
“I don’t think I even really practice it,” he said of his short game. “I practice my swing just trying to keep it on the planet so I don’t come out here and embarrass myself. But the short game for whatever reason comes so natural. I see the topography and see the way the greens are shaped and just the shot that’s required.
“I have a pretty creative imagination. Around here, it’s served me pretty well. With some of these pin locations, where they can put them with the tiers and ridges, it came in handy. It might have been an advantage for me.”
Wall, a Manasquan River Golf Club member from Brielle, N.J., never trailed in the final. He sank a 6-foot par putt at the 18th hole to take a 5-up lead at the lunch break and held off a late charge by Osberg, 34, of Bryn Mawr, the 2014 Amateur champion from Pine Valley and this year’s qualifying medalist.
“He probably used his short game more than he liked today, but when he needed it, it was spectacular,” Osberg said. “He made a ton of big putts, a ton of crucial par saves.”
Twice Osberg made runs at Wall in the afternoon. He won back-to-back holes at 7 and 8, the latter when Wall surprisingly lipped out a 3-footer for par, to cut the deficit to 3-down. But Osberg found the water with his tee shot at the par-3 ninth, which Wall won with a bogey.
Osberg, a two-time GAP player of the year, later won 13 with a birdie and 14 with a conceded birdie, reducing Wall’s lead to 2-up. But at the difficult par-3 15th, Osberg scuffed a chip and wound up with double bogey, making the score 3-up with three to play.
“It seemed like every time I got something going, I just couldn’t keep it,” Osberg said. “When you’re 5-down, you really don’t have much room to let anything slip away, but I hung in there and battled back at least to make it interesting with four holes to play.”
Wall fittingly closed out the match after missing the green left at No. 16 and chipping to 8 feet. After Osberg barely saw a 20-foot birdie try slide by, Wall drained the par putt for the victory, becoming the first repeat champion since Chris Lange in 1993 and 1994.