Fabulous five: McCool wins at Blue Bell
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BLUE BELL, Pa. — For Saucon Valley Country Club’s Robin McCool, victory tastes like strawberry shortcake, and it feels as cold as ice.
The 71-year-old added the 15th Brewer Cup Super Senior title to his trophy case at Blue Bell Country Club (par 71, 5,991 yards) Wednesday.
“I’m pretty happy, and I’m pretty grateful for the opportunity to even play in these things,” the Center Valley, Pa. resident said. “It’s tough. Match play is a difficult format. If there’s only eight people in the field, you’re going to play a good player in every match, so to make it to the finals is just huge. To end up playing someone like Don is quite an honor.”
McCool dispatched five-time Brewer Cup Super-Senior champion Don Donatoni of White Manor Country Club, 3&2.
“Robin is a tremendous player,” Donatoni, 74, of West Chester, Pa., said. “He’s got a great resume. He’s won the Brewer Cup a number of times. He’s a wonderful match play competitor, and I knew I would have my hands full right from the beginning.”
The seasoned champions battled valiantly for the title.
To get things started, McCool hit a sand wedge 56 yards on No. 1 (par 4, 323 yards) and rolled in a 22-footer to go 1-up early on Donatoni.
“Of course he comes out and birdies the first hole, so all of the sudden I’m one down and fighting from behind,” Donatoni said.
A three-putt by Donatoni on No. 2 (par 4, 385 yards) caused McCool to go 2-up after the first two holes. On No. 6 (par 3, 160 yards), McCool found the left greenside bunker while Donatoni hit the green. A splash out of the bunker followed by two putts caused McCool to give one back to Donatoni. A wedge out of the fairway bunker from 60 yards on No. 7 (par 5, 498 yards) to five feet allowed Donatoni to tie the match. It was not until No. 9 (par 5, 514 yards) that McCool was able to make a two-putt par to best Donatoni’s bogey from the fairway, short right of the green, to go 1-up again.
McCool didn’t give up another hole.
“I hit a couple of wayward shots, and I know that’s not my game,” McCool said. “I just kind of had to get back to basics. If you play enough tournament golf, you kind of can navigate those things.”
Routine pars on Nos. 11 (par 4, 389 yards) and 12 (par 3, 141 yards) allowed McCool to extend his lead to 3-up.
A clutch 20-footer by Donatoni on No. 15 (par 4, 393 yards) forced McCool into dormie position heading into No. 16 (par 3, 166 yards).
“Now I’m 3-up with three to play,” McCool said. “I’ve got to hit my tee ball on the par-3 right in the middle of the green. There’s no reason to try to chase the flag. There’s no reason to go anywhere else, just go right in the middle of the green and then see what happens.”
An easy par sealed the deal for McCool’s fifth win in the event overall (2010, 2013) and third in the Super-Senior division (2016, 2019, 2022). Not an easy task, considering he underwent a second back surgery in 2011.
“I told my wife that I’m going to go to Wegman’s and I’m going to buy a strawberry shortcake [to celebrate today’s win],” McCool said. “I don’t eat desserts, but we’re going to eat one tonight. As I eat my cake, you can guarantee that there will be some ice bags on my back.”
Donatoni defeated Tom Hyland of Little Mill Country Club, 2&1. A lack of sufficient putting ability contributed to Hyland’s loss.
“I played probably average for me,” Hyland, 65, of Marlton, N.J., said. “Don didn’t play his best. He probably played average. His average is better than my average. That’s how I would sum it up.”
McCool dispatched Roc Irey of LuLu Country Club, 3&2. It was soreness and fatigue that did Irey in.
“I could tell in the morning that I was gonna struggle with some back issues,” Irey, 70, of Furlong, Pa., said. “I hit a lot of good shots, and then I hit some really bad ones.”
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.
4. Robin McCool, Saucon Valley CC d. 2. Don Donatoni, White Manor CC, 3&2
1. Roc Irey, LuLu CC 4. Robin McCool, Saucon Valley CC
2. Don Donatoni, White Manor CC 6. Tom Hyland, Little Mill CC