Bensel Outlasts Kennedy in Three-Hole Playoff at GALV Lehigh Valley Open

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EASTON, Pa. – In what is becoming an unfortunate trend for the GALV Lehigh Valley Open, inclement weather once again played a prominent role in the overall narrative of the tournament. Play was suspended multiple times during the first round before ultimately being suspended for the day at 7:00 p.m. With additional overnight rains, players were not able to get back on the course until 12:00 p.m. the following day. Because of this long delay, the decision was made to shorten the 36-hole event to an 18-hole tournament.

Playing in the tournament’s first group on Monday, Eric Kennedy (Overbrook Golf Club) posted a score that in the end would prove to be the number to beat. Kennedy made his way around the par 72 golf course posting five birdies, including one the closing hole, against only one bogey, to finish with a score of 4-under (68). Initially, Kennedy thought he would have to wait until the end of the day to see where he stood in the tournament, but because of the inclement weather, Kennedy didn’t know if his number was good enough until more than 24 hours after he finished his round.

Late in the day on Monday, Kennedy was joined at the top of the leaderboard by Trevor Bensel (Overbrook Golf Club). As a note, Bensel was one the last groups to finish before play was ultimate suspended for the day because of the weather. Bensel joined Kennedy at 4-under after carding one eagle, four birdies against two bogeys to share the clubhouse lead.

Although several players would make a run at Kennedy, Bensel, and the top spot, no other player was able to join them at 4-under. There was a large contingent of players who finished one shot shy at 3-under (69) including defending champion Mark Sheftic (Merion Golf Club), Brett Melton (Radley Run Country Club), Michael Little (Lookaway Golf Club), Alex Knoll (Blue Shamrock Golf Course), and amateur Steve Kluemper.

With no other players joining them at 4-under, Kennedy and Bensel headed to the 18th tee to begin the sudden death playoff. On the first playoff hole, both players found the green in regulation, however, neither was able to sink their birdie putts and both settled for a par meaning they needed to head back to the tee box to start the process over again.

On the second playoff hole, both players came up just short of the green, leaving each with nearly identical chip shots. Kennedy and Bensel executed their chip shots without much difficulty and once again both players parred the hole. With no player giving way, the duo would head back to the tee box for the third time.

On the third playing of the hole, things heated up beginning with Bensel’s approach shot. After finding the same spot in the fairway for the third time, Bensel knew what yardage he needed. His approach shot hit into the bank of the two-tiered green and as it spun back to the hole it rolled over the edge of the cup for a near eagle but in the end, it settled eight feet below the hole. Kennedy’s approach, although not as dramatic, finished inside Bensel’s ball leaving each player with a good look at birdie. Putting first, Bensel was finally able to convert a birdie and the pressure moved to Kennedy to convert his birdie putt. Despite a solid effort, Kennedy’s putt fell short meaning Bensel was crowned champion of the GALV Lehigh Valley Open, his first points win since the 2017 Match Play Championship.

“I have been playing well this season, I just haven’t been able to score,” commented Bensel of his play. “The delay wasn’t ideal, but I just tried to keep things in perspective and wait it all out. Eric and I both played good golf and it was fun to play in a ‘match play like setting’. I want to thank our host GALV and Karl Gilbert, as well as everyone at Northampton for proving such a terrific venue.”

Four players shared the top spot in the tournament’s senior division after each posted a score of 1-under (71). This group included Dave McNabb (Applebrook Golf Club), Dave Quinn (Laurel Creek Country Club), John Appleget (The Shore Club), and Mark Anderson (Philadelphia Cricket Club).

Leading the way in the amateur contest was Steve Kluemper was posted a tournament score of 3-under (69). Kluemper got off to a fast start with birdies on his first three holes. After a bogey on the difficult par-3 4th hole, Kluemper added two additional birdies to make the turn at 4-under. As he made his way back to the clubhouse Kluemper added two quick birdies to reach 6-under before three bogeys derailed his attempt to win the GALV Lehigh Valley Open.

The Section would like to thank our title sponsor, the Golf Association of Lehigh Valley and Mr. Karl Gilbert as well as the entire staff and membership of Northampton Country Club for their hospitality.

The Philadelphia PGA tournament calendar continues this Friday, August 2 at Doylestown Country Club for the annual Doylestown Open. For complete coverage of the Philadelphia PGA be sure to follow us online FacebookTwitterInstagram.

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