Huntingdon Valley’s Acker, Galbreath take 31st Francis X. Hussey
SPRINGFIELD, Pa. — Matthew Acker and Daniel Galbreath are widely viewed as longshots in Huntingdon Valley Country Club’s upcoming better-ball championship. That’s because the Huntingdon Valley, Pa. residents will face Andrew Mason, a former professional and two-time Golf Association of Philadelphia Open Champion, and Sean Ryan in the first round.
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Acker, 16, and Galbreath, 17, sent oddsmakers scrambling Monday. The two carded a 4-under-par 67 to capture the 31st Francis X. Hussey Memorial at a pleasant Rolling Green Golf Club (par 71, 6,371 yards).
“No one’s giving us a shot against [Andrew and Sean],” Acker, 16, a rising junior at La Salle College High School, said. “We came out here and played like this. Hopefully they’ll show us some respect.”
“We went out there trying to make birdies,” Galbreath, 17, a rising senior at Lower Moreland High School, added. “We didn’t make as many as we wanted to on the back nine, but we wanted to try and stay bogey-free.”
Coincidentally, the team made its most important (and only) bogey and birdie on Rolling Green’s home stretch. A pair of loose drives off the tee nearly caused a crumble. Acker recovered and made a key 20-footer for 5.
“That probably saved our round right there,” Galbreath said.
Saved and set the stage for a dramatic finish.
The Acker and Galbreath team entered the 18th hole (par 5, 517 yards) at 3 under — tied with clubhouse leaders Matthew Davis and Max Siegfried of Aronimink Golf Club, and the team of Jacob Zeng of Applecross Country Club and Case Hummer, also of Aronimink. Acker parted the fairway with a drive; his teammate, however, found the right bunker. Galbreath’s extrication out of an “awful lie” led to more trouble in the left trees. Given the result, he urged Acker to exchange a 3-wood for a safer selection. Acker didn’t heed the request, and instead pured his original choice to the front of the green — some 60 feet from the hole location. Galbreath, with a narrow window at hand, hit a low cut 8-iron, “more of a feel shot,” to 30 feet above the flagstick. With the honors, Acker elected to putt through a portion of fairway and left his eagle attempt 15 feet short.
“I was just lagging it really well all day,” he said. “I knew one of us was going to make it for birdie. We knew we had to birdie it to win.”
Galbreath then drained a delicate downhiller for said win. An enthusiastic fist pump, and an energized hi-five from his partner, followed.
“I feel like I can make right-to-left putts a lot easier than left-to-right putts. I just gave it my best shot,” Galbreath said.
The Acker and Galbreath team carded four birdies prior to afford a final shot at victory. On the downhill, par 3 No. 3 (164 yards), Acker knocked an 8-iron to 35 feet and converted a right-to-left slider. Galbreath returned the birdie favor on the next hole (par 4, 371 yards), dropping a gap wedge to five feet. He also inked red on No. 8 (par 4, 405 yards) following a 145-yard 8-iron shot to six feet. Galbreath continued to impress on the par 4, 428-yard 11th hole. Despite catching the left fairway bunker off the tee, he launched a 7-iron 155 yards into tap-in territory.
Acker and Galbreath became friends a year by virtue of time spent and rounds played together at Huntingdon Valley. The two felt confident coming into Monday’s Junior better-ball event.
“We know our strengths. Not that many people believed in us today,” Acker said.
“I said the day before that I think we had a good chance to win this,” Galbreath added. “We play together a lot and we know that we’re a pretty good better-ball team.”
Galbreath’s older brother Robert, a four-time GAP Junior Boys’ Champion, teamed with Eric Chipin to win the Hussey’s Junior Division title in 2006. The two are the second set of brothers to accomplish that feat independently. Davis (2014) and his brother Michael (2011) share the distinction. Chris and Drew Yard of Whitford Country Club won back-to-back titles in 1987-88.
The Huntingdon Valley, Pa. residents grabbed runner-up honors a year ago. Competitors in the Junior-Junior Division play nine holes.
“We were just solid,” Isztwan, 13, an incoming eighth grader at Penn Charter, said. “We hit greens and two-putted. We really didn’t make any mistakes.”
Eight pars and a birdie means very few, if any, mistakes. McGrath logged the team’s lone red figure on No. 3 (par 3, 138 yards), stopping a pitching wedge at three feet.
“Today was really fun,” McGrath, 13, an incoming eight grader at The Academy of the New Church, said. “It was nice to go out on a beautiful course. I loved it.”
Huntingdon Valley is the second club to sweep both divisions of the Francis X. Hussey Memorial. Wilmington Country Club did so in 1992.
Francis X. Hussey, the tournament’s namesake, was a Junior member at Rolling Green. He suffered from congenital heart disease and died in December 1983 while undergoing major heart surgery. He was 13 years old when he died. Francis was a student in the Haverford Township School system, an avid sports fan and an active Junior member at Rolling Green. His courage in the face of his illness was a great inspiration to all who knew him.
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