Philadelphia Open starts Monday with new format, expanded field

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Jeff Osberg drives on the 14th at the Philadelphia Amateur at Merion Golf Club Wednesday June 15, 2016.

The Philadelphia Open will be conducted with an expanded field and a new format when the 113th edition of the Golf Association of Philadelphia major begins Monday at Philadelphia Country Club in Gladwyne.

For the first time since at least 1940, the 36-hole event will be contested over two days instead of one. Because of the new schedule, the number of entries has increased from 78 players to 133 – 85 amateurs and 48 professionals.

Marty Emeno, GAP’s director of operations and communications, said one reason for stretching the championship out to two days “was to expand opportunities for people to play in the Open.” He said weather was another motive.

“The fact is, if we had any weather, it was almost impossible to finish,” Emeno said. “Plus the weather is really hot and humid at this time of year, and we would see guys struggle in the second round. So with having a second day, and giving more people the opportunity to compete, it will improve the quality of golf in the end.”

Emeno referenced the 2012 Open at Pine Valley, where the players almost didn’t finish, and last year’s event at The Ridge at Back Brook that finished in the dark and required the two players tied for first – Jeff Osberg and Chris Crawford – to return to the course the next day for a four-hole playoff.

Osberg, of Huntingdon Valley, won the playoff and will return to defend his championship, one of seven former winners who will compete. His victory marked the seventh consecutive year that the Open had been won by an amateur.

The field will be reduced to the low 60 players and ties after the first round for the tournament’s conclusion on Tuesday. The field of professionals will play for a $35,000 purse, with $7,000 going to the low pro.