BLUE BELL, Pa. — Joe Roeder made his Brewer Cup entry fee worth every penny. Three days. Ninety-one holes of golf. And a trophy to show for it.
Roeder captured the event’s 15th edition Wednesday at a beautiful Blue Bell Country Club (par 71, 6,523 yards). He did so by defeating a focused Ken Phillips of Lancaster Country Club in 19 holes.
“You never know when you’re going to get the chance to win a tournament, especially in GAP. There are so many great players, and I just at least wanted to hang in there in each match,” Roeder, 61, of Marlton, N.J., said. “I had my back against the wall a lot. But what I feel good about is when the pressure was on, I made the shots I needed to make. That’s rare for me. It at least lets me know it’s in there.”
“It was a great week. I played four good matches with great people,” Phillips, 63, of Lancaster, Pa., said. “The thing about Senior golf is we’re all friends with each other, encouraging each other. That’s what golf should be about. Joe is such a gentleman. I had a great time with him. This is the epitome of Gordon Brewer: playing golf with a gentleman in the Final.”
To even force overtime against Phillips, Roeder overcame a trio of deficits: 3-down through seven holes, 2-down through 12 holes and 1-down with one to play. All of which preceded a semifinal clash that put Roeder 3-down through five holes against LuLu Country Club’s Mike Moffat. He won, 1-up, to earn a date with Phillips in the first place.
“It’s an honor to win a tournament named after Mr. Brewer. He embodies all of the good things about golf.”Joe Roeder
Comeback kid, right?
“I don’t know about that. You’ve just got to grind. I just kept thinking that,” Roeder, a Merion Golf Club member, said. “It’s so hard to get to this point, to have a chance to win. I feel very lucky and very fortunate.”
On No. 1 (par 4, 250 yards), the Final’s 19th hole, Roeder opted for driver given the gettable nature. Sitting in the rough some 32 yards from the flagstick, he stopped a straightforward pitch five feet from the front-left hole location. Phillips, meanwhile, nearly holed his pitch from a mound greenside right. It burnt the right edge, leaving Phillips with a six-footer for the potential win.
“I thought I hit a really good putt. It caught the lower lip twice. So … bad lip,” Phillips said. “I didn’t think it was going to break that much, and it broke than I thought. I thought it was going to hang on, but it didn’t.”
“He is, from what I saw today, one of the best 5-to-10-foot putters I’ve seen. He didn’t miss too many, and I was very surprised when he missed that one. But I think he hit a good putt,” Roeder, who made good on his five-footer for birdie, said. “He’s a great guy to play with. He was very friendly and very encouraging as we played.”
Standing dormie on No. 18 (par 4, 399 yards) tee, Phillips’ title prospects appeared promising. But Blue Bell’s closer is where Roeder cashed his chips all week. Birdies to win in the Round of 16 and Quarterfinals, respectively. A 14-footer for par to secure that semifinal victory over Moffat.
The 18th again giveth. Phillips, with a “spongy lie” in the left rough, attempted to run a 7-iron from 170 yards onto the putting surface. It instead found the front-right bunker. Roeder, knowing he needed a green in regulation, knocked an upwind 8-iron 154 yards to 30 feet below the hole location. Phillips’ bunker blast didn’t tumble as projected on Blue Bell’s firm floor. Roeder snuck a three-footer in the side door to extend his Brewer life.
“I’m not used to playing with pressure like that. It felt good when I saw that go in the hole,” Roeder, a flight instructor who works at Fort Dix, said.
A self-inflicted pressure given a self-inflicted wound on No. 17 (par 5, 487 yards).
“I had 40 yards, but it was up the hill. The grass I was in was growing against me. I know you don’t want to decelerate through those shots, so I took a good swing to get through the grass. It just flew out of there to the back of the green,” Roeder said. He missed a five-foot, left-to-right slider for par. Phillips, after catching the front-right bunker with a 5-wood from 240 yards, made a six-foot comebacker to win the hole.
The aforementioned represented Part III of Roeder’s comeback trilogy (costarring a fellow plumb-bobber in Phillips). The series opened on No. 8 (par 4, 444 yards), which Roeder won with a safe par following a driver-5-iron combination. He lost the previous four holes to Phillips. The par 5, 509-yard No. 9 trimmed the separation to one. Roeder hit a wedge 71 yards to 22 feet and buried the downhiller for birdie. Phillips’ 58-degree wedge from 85 yards stopped 15 feet left of the flagstick. His birdie stopped outside the hole.
Phillips reclaimed a 2-up lead by birdieing No. 11 (par 4, 447 yards), where he drained a 20-footer from the back fringe. Then the resolute Roeder returned to the director’s chair for Part II of his Brewer Final trilogy. Walks between golf shots wrote the script necessary to start filming.
“I do like to walk a lot to the greens and think. It keeps me mentally sharp,” Roeder said. “I love going out, walking and playing golf with my wife (Jane) because I get to work on different types of shots. That’s helped me immensely. I felt like through the course of the tournament, I made some good shots.”
Roeder drew even with wins on Nos. 13 (par 4, 280 yards) and 14 (par 5, 520 yards). His wedge from 31 yards on the former cleared a guarding bunker and coasted to five feet. Roeder cleaned up the birdie putt. A pair of trying lies for Phillips on No. 14 brewed trouble. His wedge from 85 yards “came out heavy” and presented a difficult two-putt from the front fringe. Roeder knocked a wedge 85 yards to 28 feet and logged two putts for the victory there.
“Today, I played the front nine better than I did the back nine. Some of the shots just set up better for me,” Phillips, who serves as GAP Vice President, said. “Blue Bell was the winner. What a beautiful golf course.”
“You just never know when good breaks happen, when good things come your way. To get to this point, you have to get some lucky breaks along the way. I know I got a bunch of lucky breaks,” Roeder added.
Roeder’s prior GAP credit came in 2017, when he won the Frank H. Chapman Memorial Cup at LuLu. A share of struggles and successes in between. Roeder, of note, qualified for the U.S. Senior Amateur Championship a year ago.
The Brewer Cup’s namesake, O. Gordon Brewer, Jr., is a two-time U.S. Senior Amateur Champion. Now Roeder’s name will be etched on that trophy.
“It’s an honor to win a tournament named after Mr. Brewer. He embodies all of the good things about golf,” Roeder said. “Every match was a grind. Those guys are fantastic players, and they have a way better golf résumé than I do. So, it felt good to be able to compete with them, at least for these last couple of days.”
Phillips settled his Brewer Cup semifinals score with Bob Beck.
In 2016, Beck, a Lehigh Country Club member, dispatched Phillips, 2&1, en route to the title at Overbrook Golf Club. Phillips exacted his revenge Wednesday by dispatching Beck, 4&3.
“I missed a few shots. He played really solid on the front nine,” Beck, 62, of Allentown, Pa., said. “His short game was fabulous. When he needed to, he chipped it awesome and made it. I just gave him a few holes.”
Phillips forecasted his intentions by claiming No. 1 (par 4, 337 yards). He went bunker-bunker and walked away with a par. Beck sailed the green with a wedge from 80 yards and failed to get up-and-down.
“That actually set the tone, for sure,” Beck, a semifinalist in the Brewer Cup a year ago, said.
Phillips moved to 4-up at the turn by rattling off three consecutive wins. On No. 7 (par 5, 510 yards), he extricated a wedge from the fairway bunker 85 yards to two feet for birdie. Beck bogeyed No. 8 (par 4, 444 yards) after landing his approach on a greenside mound. A three-putt from 30 feet on No. 9 (par 5, 509 yards) added to the foreshadowing.
On the bottom side of the bracket, Roeder lived up to his Brewer Cup reputation.
Standing 3-down after five holes against Moffat, he won three consecutive holes to tie the contest. Roeder took Nos. 6 (par 3, 183 yards) and No. 7 (par 5, 510 yards) with pars after poor Moffat tee shots. The latter failed to save par on No. 9 after his soft 8-iron from 153 yards landed flag high but traveled over the green. Moffat missed a 15-footer on No. 18 to force overtime. Roeder’s 14-footer for par tumbled over the back lip.
“My sole goal this tournament was to just try and have fun playing golf, not worry about the result. I did that,” Moffat, 55, of Horsham, Pa., said. “Today, the firmness of the greens kind of messed me up a little bit. The pins were tough, and the course wasn’t easy. I’m appreciative to Blue Bell for hosting. It was great.”
The Brewer Cup is named in honor of O. Gordon Brewer, Jr., the former president of Pine Valley Golf Club. He is a two-time U.S. Senior Amateur Champion and veteran of 42 USGA Championships. He’s captured two GAP Amateur Championship titles (1967, 1976), a GAP Senior Amateur Championship crown (1997) and a Senior Player of the Year (1997) as well as countless invitational titles. He is a recipient of the USGA’s Bob Jones Award and a member of the GAP Hall of Fame.
Celebrating Amateur Golf since 1897, GAP, also known as the Golf Association of Philadelphia, is the oldest regional or state golf association in the United States. It serves as the principal ruling body of amateur golf in its region. The Association’s 330 Member Clubs and 90,000 individual members are spread across Pennsylvania, Delaware, New Jersey and Maryland. The GAP’s mission is to promote, preserve and protect the game of golf.
14. Joe Roeder, Merion GC d. 8. Ken Phillips, Lancaster CC, 19 holes
8. Ken Phillips, Lancaster CC d. 4. Bob Beck, Lehigh CC, 4&3
14. Joe Roeder, Merion GC d. 7. Mike Moffat, LuLu CC, 1-up
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