It was an experience unlike any other in the history of the Philadelphia Amateur on Monday when the 120th edition of the Golf Association of Philadelphia major championship began at Lancaster Country Club.
Eighteen holes of stroke-play qualifying instead of the usual 36. Carts permitted, but not caddies. A field of 80 players, well down from the average of around 138 in recent years. Contestants allowed to hit balls on the practice range for just 15 minutes.
“It is quite different,” said Jeff Osberg, the 2014 champion and 2019 runner-up. “I’m used to walking. I usually have a caddie with me. It’s usually an extra grueling start to a grueling week with 36 holes. I’m usually there an hour ahead of time, but only was able to warm up for 15 minutes.
“It definitely felt more like a casual round of golf than a major championship, but once we got out there and started playing, everyone kind of knows what’s at stake, it felt kind of normal.”
Osberg, of Pine Valley, was one of five players who shot even-par 70, one stroke behind the co-medalists, Will Davenport of Whitemarsh Valley and Jalen Griffin of Five Ponds.
Manasquan River’s Jeremy Wall, who is attempting to become the first player in championship history to win three straight Amateurs, put together a wild start — a double bogey at the first hole and an eagle 2 at the second. He followed that with three birdies and five bogeys for a 72.
Davenport, the 2019 GAP Mid-Amateur champion, carded three birdies and two bogeys and played his last 11 holes in 2 under par. Griffin was 2 under for the day before suffering his only bogey at No. 17.
Osberg started well with three birdies on his first seven holes and remained 3 under through 14 before a double bogey at the par-4 15th and a bogey at No. 17, a par 3.
“I figured I could play smart enough to hopefully get in and qualify,” he said. “I definitely don’t feel as sharp as I normally would feel at this time of year, but I knew I was playing well. I started playing well last week and was hitting it really well. I just figured as long as I stayed patient and played my game, that I should be OK.”
Tied with Osberg at 70 were Michael Davis of Aronimink, Lukas Clark of Galloway National, Zachary Barbin of Loch Nairn and Peter Barron III of Galloway National.