Brett Young poses with the George Dressler Memorial trophy
YORK, PA - As he approached the 13th tee in Tuesday's second round of the 78th Dressler Memorial Championship, Brett Young was 5-over par for the day and 6-over par for the championship. The leader at the time, Ken Phillips, was at 1-over par on his round through 11 holes. Young knew that he needed some red numbers in his final six holes to catch the leaders, who were two groups behind him on the course. After a steady stretch that included a pair of birdies and a bogey-free remainder of his round, the field started coming back to Young. As the winds picked up, conditions got even tougher, and by the end of the day, Young's 36-hole total of 148 (+4) was enough to claim the title at the Country Club of York, in the season's opening event, which was presented by LECOM and hosted by UPMC Pinnacle.
"I didn't know what conditions would be like at the end of the day," said Young, of Nemacolin Country Club. "I thought originally that even par or 1-over would do it. But it just got really windy and so much tougher. I just thought that I needed to try to get a couple of shots back and then see what would happen."
What happened was that Young claimed the Championship division crown with his solid finish. The recent graduate of California University of Pennsylvania was able to outlast Phillips as well as Kevin Fajt and Kevin Rossi, who all tied for second at 149 (+5).
The key for Young's comeback was birdies on the back-to-back par 5s on the second nine at the classic Donald Ross design. After a birdie on No. 14 to get to 5-over par, Young's second shot on the 489-yard 15th hole flew the green. He then played a tricky flop shot and sunk the ensuing putt for his second straight birdie.
"After those birdies, I just wanted to make some pars and see what would happen," said Young, who qualified for the 2017 U.S. Amateur.
After making par on 17, his strategy was put to the test on the 18th and final hole of the afternoon. Young's approach on the 384-yard par-4 stayed above the hole. His birdie putt rolled seven feet by, but he was able to steel his nerves and knock in the seven-footer to post the clubhouse lead at 148.
Meanwhile, two groups back, Phillips, of nearby Lancaster Country Club, and Rossi, of Scranton Municipal Golf Club, were locked in a duel that looked like it would decide the championship division winner. After Phillips bogeyed the 12th hole and Rossi drained a birdie putt on No. 13, the two were tied for the lead at 1-over par. But Rossi's tee shot on the 14th went right off the tee and he couldn't find it and ended up posting a double bogey there. When Phillips made consecutive bogeys at holes 15 and 16, the two golfers were tied yet again.
But on the 17th, Rossi faced a difficult chip from left of the par 3 green, and dropped another two shots when his bogey putt hung on the lip. Phillips, the current Pennsylvania Golf Association President, made par there and took a one-shot lead over Young into the 18th. However, his drive found the left rough in a tough lie. Compounding matters further, Phillips then bladed a wedge and his ball ended up in the back right rough. With the green sloping away from him, he chipped it across the green. After getting his fourth shot to within six feet, Phillips had that putt to make bogey and force a playoff for the Championship division title. But the putt strayed to the left, and Young's victory was cemented. Despite the late struggles, Phillips did claim the Senior division crown with his score of 149.
"I'm thrilled to win the Senior title here on such a great golf course," Phillips said. "I'm disappointed with my finish, but hey, that's golf."
Rossi had a chance at birdie on 18 to get in a playoff but his 35-footer wouldn't fall. Joining Rossi and Phillips in second place overall was Fajt, of Hannastown Country Club, who got into the hunt with birdies on No. 14 and No. 15 before dropping a shot on each of the next two holes.
Ken Phillips eyes a tee shot at the Country Club of York
Phillips' score was good enough for a two-shot margin in the Senior division over home club hopeful Jeff Poet, whose second round score of 76 tied for the best in that division. Finishing third in the Senior division was 2016 Senior division champ Michael Vassil of the Country Club of Scranton.
To a man, the competitors raved about the conditions of the course over the past two days.
"It was my first time here, and this course is really great," Young said. "They did a great job with it and getting it ready for this championship."
Phillips hails from nearby Lancaster and is certainly more familiar with the club, and also had great things to say about the experience of the golfers during the event.
"I'd like to give special thanks to the staff and membership here at the Country Club of York. It's great for us to be welcomed with top-notch hospitality."
The Association echoes the thoughts of its president, and would like to thank everyone associated with the Country Club of York for their hard work and hospitality during the championship.