17th Brewer Cup: Day Two - The Golf Association of Philadelphia

Semifinal matchups set

ELVERSON, Pa. – Neil Gordon and Ronan Culligan have gotten to know each other quite well this season. 

Both Gordon and Culligan team up as coaches for the First Tee Greater Philadelphia looking to inspire the next generation.

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“I went to Germantown Academy with Bill Hyndman, V who is the CEO of the First Tee in Philadelphia,” Gordon, 56, of Warrington, Pa., said. “I have been volunteering there for seven years. I do so much with golf and take a lot of the joys it provides. Giving back to the community and to these kids means a lot to me. You hope some of them stick with it.”

“I retired a couple years ago and obviously you have a lot more time on your hands,” Culligan, 60, of Washington Crossing, Pa., said. “Retired people are always looking for something to do. I spend my winters in Arizona and I got involved with the First Tee out there. When I came back here for the season, the First Tee connected me with Neil.” 


On the golf course, both are semifinalists in the 17th Brewer Cup at French Creek Golf Club after a two-match war of attrition Wednesday (par 71, 6,252 yards).

Gordon, the top seed, defeated No. 16 seed Mike Sanfrancesco of Kennett Square Golf and Country Club, 4&3, in the Round of 16. He rallied to beat two-time champion Jeff Frazier of Carlisle Country Club in 19 holes in the quarterfinals.

Gordon will face No. 5 seed Mark Walkush of Sunnybrook Golf Club in the semis at 8 a.m. Thursday.

Culligan, the No. 15 seed, ousted No. 2 seed Brian Groff of Lancaster Country Club, 2&1, in the Round of 16 and No. 10 seed David West of Philadelphia Publinks Golf Association in 19 holes in the quarterfinals. He will play No. 3 seed John Barry of Lancaster at 8:07 a.m.

All Gordon wanted was one more hole.

Staring elimination in the face, Gordon faced a must-make 8-footer for par on No. 16 (par 5, 514 yards). He buried it. He would win the last three holes of the match.

“Jeff’s a phenomenal player,” Gordon, of Doylestown Country Club, said. “I just tried to keep it close and give myself a chance. I felt like I played pretty well on the front nine but then I lost my putter for a few holes in the middle of the back nine. I knew Jeff was the guy in the Senior circuit. I was very cognizant of that.”

Gordon’s hole of choice in the match was No. 1 (par 4, 352 yards). He birdied it the first time around after hitting a sand wedge from 90 yards to 15 feet to gain the early advantage. In extra holes, he made a savvy par save after chipping a 54-degree wedge to five feet. Frazier three-putted from 30 feet.

Gordon’s match-play travails were prevalent in the BMW GAP Team Matches. He didn’t win any of his three matches.

“Making that putt to win felt good because it meant I beat probably the best senior player in GAP,” Gordon said. “This year hasn’t been the best with match play so I am happy about finding some success. I just wanted a chance. I was fortunate to stay alive.”

Gordon’s success made waves. Texts and calls coming from friends and family encouraging him along. He’s just two wins away from adding to his GAP Major legacy. He won the 1999 GAP Middle-Amateur Championship at Indian Valley Country Club.

“Getting those texts and calls makes me feel good,” Gordon said. “I still feel like I can play a little bit and I am getting to do what I love. Hopefully, I have another two matches in me.”

Culligan held a 3-up advantage through 11 holes on West and limped in. But a strong birdie on the first playoff hole (No. 1) pushed him to the final day. He kept a pitching wedge below the wind from 100 yards. It rested 18 inches from the hole.

“Making the semifinals at the Brewer Cup is great,” Culligan, a Saucon Valley Country Club member since 2016, said. “I love match play because you are never out of the match until it is over. You just have to hang in there. I got ahead of Dave and then he fought back.”


Culligan is familiar with the wind blowing, he grew up in Ireland and started playing the game at Lahinch Golf Club in Clare County. It’s also where he was inspired to give back like he is with Gordon at the First Tee.

“Volunteering brings back memories of what James Meade did for me back at Lahinch and Ennis Golf Club when he taught me,” Culligan said. “Giving back is much more than about golf. It’s about building character and helping these kids find their path. The investment of time James gave to us in Ireland as youngsters was huge and for me to be able to emulate that in some way means a lot. I look forward to doing the clinics each week.”

The clinics run twice a week from April to October and are an hour each in length. All parts of golf are on the table.

Like Gordon, Culligan is another good day away from a Major triumph. Rest and relaxation will be his priority when he gets home.

“I think my game is good enough,” Culligan, in his first year as a GAP volunteer, said. “I just need to make sure I am healthy. If I can feel good, I think I will have a chance.” 

Super-Senior Division

The semifinals for the Brewer Cup’s Super-Senior Division (par 71, 5,966 yards) are set. A past Brewer Cup Super-Senior champion and last year’s runner-up fill out one side of the bracket. On the other side, a Super-Senior freshman stands alongside a staunch GAP competitor in search of his first Super-Senior honor. 

Gary Daniels of Applebrook Golf Club, a perennial GAP Super-Senior competitor, upended stroke-play qualifying medalist and friend Tom Hyland of Little Mill Country Club, 4&2. Lancaster Country Club’s Ron Weaver shocked audiences in his first year of Super-Senior eligibility by ousting five-time Brewer Cup Super-Senior titlist and nine-time GAP Super-Senior Player of the Year Don Donatoni of White Manor Country Club, 3&2.

Brian Rothaus of Five Ponds Golf Club represents the only remaining Brewer Champion in the Super-Senior field (2021). He earned his spot by besting William Chase of Valley Green Golf Course, 2&1. Michael Vassil of Country Club of Scranton is on the road to redemption after losing in the Super-Senior finals last year to LuLu Country Club’s Chris Clauson. His vengeance pushed him to a victory over Carlisle Country Club’s Mike Farlling, 5&4. 

Semifinal matches begin Wednesday morning with the championship tilt to follow. Daniels faces Weaver at 8:15 a.m. The Rothaus/Vassil clash commences at 8:22 a.m.

For Weaver, solid golf shots and timely birdies were key to his success. 


“I started out really strong and hit a lot of good shots,” Weaver, 65, of Lancaster, Pa., said. “I think the key was that I birdied 10 and 11. Donnie made a birdie in front of me on 11 and I was able to make it on top of him, and after that it was fairways and greens.” 

On No. 10 (par 3, 154 yards), he stopped an 8-iron 18 inches from the hole. A 200-yard 4-hybrid on No. 11 (par 5, 455 yards) found the greenside bunker. The sandy splash settled 12 feet away to halve his opponent. 

“That gave me confidence,” Weaver said. “I thought if I kept halving him and hitting good shots with him [it would produce a good result]. He doesn’t miss, he’s just a legend. I knew I’d have my hands full.” 

Weaver closed out the match on No. 16 (par 5, 493 yards) after reaching the green in two with a 4-wood from 230 yards and converting on a two-putt birdie.

Golf has occupied Weaver’s life in a different way up until recently. He served as Lancaster Catholic High School’s golf coach for 15 years before retiring last year. Under Weaver’s leadership, the team won a state championship in 2016. He also served a three year stint (2013-15) as the men’s and women’s golf coach at Millersville University. 

“I’ve spent a lot of time coaching younger kids, it has always been my thing,” Weaver, who owns Weaver Associates, Inc., a computer supplies and printing company, said. “I’ve always been engaged with young kids. They help me stay young and keep me fresh in my game.”

Weaver’s son, Rob Rowe, serves as a golf instructor at Bent Creek Country Club. Together, they’re in the midst of creating a program to mentor and grow junior golf.

Recently, Weaver’s game has made a turn for the better. Previously, a change in staffing at his business has heavily affected his work load making practice difficult. His best finish in a GAP event was runner-up to Philadelphia Country Club’s P. Chet Walsh in the 2012 Marston Cup. He’s hoping for greater success tomorrow. 

“[I need to] stay in my zone, hit my shots and not get ahead of myself,” Weaver said. “I don’t look back, I look forward.” 

Daniels has been a force in GAP events. His trophy case features hardware from the 1985 Middle-Amateur Championship and the 2012 Frank H. Chapman Cup. Now, he’s searching for his first Super-Senior title. 


In his Brewer Cup semifinal quest, he relied on consistent shot making and course management. 

“Tom is obviously a great player, but he didn’t have his best stuff today,” Daniels, 70, of Berwyn, Pa., said. “It was a good match, the front nine was competitive. We both birdied number four and number seven, it was back and forth.”

While back and forth might have been the case at certain points, Daniels’ lead never dwindled past 1-up. 

“He got in trouble on a couple of holes. If you get out of position, it’s hard to get the ball up and down.” Daniels, who owns Creative Financial Group, said. “I drove the ball well.” 

Peak consistency crystallized on the final three holes of the match, which ended on No. 16. Daniels was able to take advantage of an out-of-position Hyland and win with routine pars. 

Daniels practices hard to perform well at upcoming tournaments. He also works hard to maintain his strength and physical fitness. A feat sometimes difficult while remaining involved with his 11 grandchildren. 

“I had one of my grandchildren (Luke) caddie for me today which was fun,” Daniels said. “He’s a new golfer and a new caddie too. It’s fun to have him watch me compete.”

Last year, Daniels’ finished tied for third alongside LuLu’s Roc Irey in the Pennsylvania Golf Association’s Super-Senior Division of the Senior Amateur Championship.     

“I was up five strokes with nine to go. Duke Delcher had a great nine and I had a terrible nine,” Daniels said. “The State Super-Senior has eluded me, so that’s on my radar.”

In closer proximity on the radar, a Brewer Cup Super-Senior title is also flashing.

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 Golf Association of Philadelphia 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 organization’s 345 Member Clubs and 110,000 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.

Senior Division


1. Neil Gordon, Doylestown Country Club, d. 8. Jeff Frazier, Carlisle Country Club, 19-holes; 4. Larry Martone, Stonewall, d. 5. Mark Walkush, Sunnybrook Golf Club, 1-up; 15. Ronan Culligan, Saucon Valley Country Club, d. 10. David West, Philadelphia Publinks Golf Association, 20-holes; 3. John Barry, Lancaster Country Club, d. 11. Adam Armagost, Little Mill Country Club, 1-up.    

Round of 16

1. Gordon d. 16. Michael Sanfrancesco, Kennett Square Golf & Country Club, 4&3; 8. Frazier d. 9. Steve Walczak, Wilmington Country Club, 5&4; 4. Larry Martone, Stonewall, d. 13. Luis Diaz, Wedgwood Country Club, 19 holes; 5. Mark Walkush, Sunnybrook Golf Club, d. 12. Kevin Kelly, Philadelphia Cricket Club, 8&7; 15. Culligan, d. 2. Brian Groff, Lancaster Country Club, 2&1; 10. David West, Philadelphia Publinks Golf Association, d. 7. P. Chet Walsh, Philadelphia Country Club, 20 holes; 3. Barry, Lancaster Country Club, d. 14. Bob Beck, Lehigh Country Club, 4&3 and 11. Adam Armagost, Little Mill Country Club, d. 6. Bill Davis, Merion Golf Club, 5&4.

Super-Senior Division


8. Gary Daniels, Applebrook Golf Club, d. 1. Tom Hyland, Little Mill Country Club, 4&2; 5. Ron Weaver, Lancaster Country Club, d. 4. Don Donatoni, White Manor Country Club, 3&2;  2. Brian Rothaus, Five Ponds Golf Club, d. 7. William Chase, Valley Green Golf Course, 2&1 and 3. Mike Vassil, Country Club of Scranton, d. 6. Mike Farlling, Carlisle Country Club, 5&4.

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