SPRING HOUSE, Pa. — As he hoisted the Allan Sussel Memorial Trophy Thursday, Christopher Fieger, Sr. officially joined its namesake in the GAP Senior Amateur Championship annals.
The Philadelphia Publinks Golf Association member closed his title defense with an emphatic 2-under-par 69 at Old York Road Country Club (par 71, 6,399 yards) for a 36-hole score of 3-under-par 139. Paul Rogowicz, Fieger’s former Temple University teammate, placed second at 142.
By virtue of his victory, Fieger became only the second player to capture the Senior Amateur in consecutive years. Sussel did so in 1985-86.
“That’s good company,” Fieger, 57, of Denver, Pa., said. “My brother Gene was very good friends with Allan. I know that Allan gave me a set of his Wilson Tour Blades when I was in college. I think I caddied for him a time or two, but I never had a chance to play golf with him. That’s my recollection [of Allan Sussel]. It was almost 40 years ago.”
Fieger is certainly on pace to match, if not pass, Sussel’s Senior Amateur supremacy (the latter holds six titles). Runner-up honors in his debut, followed by back-to-back titles. Quite a trend thus far.
Furthermore, Fieger is the fourth player to win both the Pennsylvania Golf Association Senior Amateur Championship and the GAP Senior Amateur Championship in the same year. Sussel (1986) is on that list as well, in addition to GAP Hall of Famer John Guenther, Jr. (1990) and the late Ray Thompson (2007).
“That’s a great feeling. You don’t think you’re going to win both of these tournaments, but that’s your goal when you go into them,” Fieger, who also captured the GAP Junior Boys’ Championship in 1980, said. “It’s fantastic … to be a champion in both of those events.”
Fantastic is an apt descriptor of Fieger’s performance Thursday.
He started the final round a mere stroke ahead of groupmate Rogowicz. Fieger wasted little time in lengthening his lead; He birdied two of his first four holes. On No. 2 (par 4, 335 yards), he striped a picturesque rescue to the end of the fairway and knocked a 54-degree wedge 98 yards to four feet. On No. 4 (par 5, 424 yards), Fieger lifted a 58-degree wedge 80 yards to six feet.
As Old York Road’s treacherous, potato-chip shaped greens wilted chasers, Fieger stayed the course. He gained a three-stroke advantage over Rogowicz, his nearest pursuer, after a birdie on No. 11 (par 4, 351 yards). Fieger hit a gap wedge 115 yards to eight feet there.
The tide shifted — albeit slightly — when Fieger encountered putter trouble on a pair of par 3s. A three-putt from 30 feet on No. 14 (par 3, 146 yards) resulted in a bogey. Rogowicz, who coincidentally last played alongside Fieger in a tournament at Old York Road during their Owl days, missed a 12-footer for birdie there.
“Both of us were fooled. That green was much slower than the other greens,” Fieger, who works in sales, said. “I thought all I had to do was get it over that hill and it was going to race down. He sees me leave it 10, 12 feet short, and still leaves it short.”
The par 3, 185-yard 16th hole enhanced the drama, too. Rogowicz painted the flagstick with a 5-iron, but left a six-footer for birdie in the heart.
“I felt like I had to make it. If he missed [his par putt], then I felt like we had a ballgame,” Rogowicz, 56, of Yardley, Pa., said.
Fieger’s 45-footer for birdie from right field stopped four feet below the jar. His ensuing par putt snapped left. Fieger’s lead snapped to one.
His focus didn’t snap into oblivion.
“I felt good. I was hitting the ball well,” Fieger said. “On No. 17 (par 4, 408 yards), I had 124 yards in. I hit a smooth pitching wedge, which is normally a 130, 135-yard club. I thought it was going to be perfect. I just needed to hit it harder. It spun off the green.”
Fieger logged two putts to walk away with a 4. Rogowicz, as unflappable as his Owl brethren, executed a critical sand save to stay within arm’s length entering Old York Road’s closer. A splash from the left greenside bunker left the Yardley Country Club member with a testy, right-to-left 10-foot slider. A leg lift and a jar rattle followed.
“That was unbelievable. He was fried at the top of the bunker. He was able to lift, clean and place it [due to GAP’s COVID-19 policies]. He still made a great up-and-down,” Fieger said.
And the defending champion made a great closing statement. After massacring a drive into No. 18 (par 4, 387 yards) fairway, Fieger spun a smooth 54-degree wedge from 99 yards to nine feet. Never a doubt on the ensuing birdie putt.
“I hit all 18 greens, and yesterday I hit 16 greens. So, 34 out of 36 greens was my game plan,” Fieger said. “And if I didn’t pull out wrong clubs, then I would’ve hit 18 greens yesterday, too. That’s my strength. I drive it fairly straight. I hit greens.”
“Chris played great today. To win two Senior Amateurs in a row is a great accomplishment,” Rogowicz said.
Senior Silver Cross Award
Little Mill Country Club’s Adam Armagost secured his first Senior Silver Cross Award Thursday. He carded a 2-over-par 73 to finish the race at 294 — four clear of Country Club of Scranton’s Michael Vassil.
Armagost, 57, of National Park, N.J., caddies at Pine Valley Golf Club and works at Seminole Golf Club in the offseason. He finished second in the rescheduled Chapman before taking the Warner Cup in a scorecard playoff.
The Senior Silver Cross Award is comprised of the Francis B. Warner Cup (Gross), Frank H. Chapman Memorial Cup (Gross) and the Senior Amateur Championship.
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 288 Member Clubs and 75,000 individual members are spread across the Eastern half of Pennsylvania and parts of New Jersey and Delaware. The GAP’s mission is to promote, preserve and protect the game of golf.
|Chris Fieger, Sr., Philadelphia Publinks Golf Association||70-69–139|
|Paul Rogowicz, Yardley Country Club||71-71–142|
|Jeff Frazier, Carlisle Country Club||72-72–144|
|Joe Roeder, Little Mill Country Club||75-71–146|
|Edward Kelly, Old York Road Country Club||73-74–147|
|Michael Vassil, Country Club of Scranton||74-74–148|
|Gregory Day, Old York Road Country Club||74-76–150|
|Joseph Russo, Running Deer Golf Club||79-71–150|
|Glenn Smeraglio, LuLu Country Club||74-76–150|
|Bob Beck, Lehigh Country Club||78-73–151|
|Robert Harrington, Merion Golf Club||73-78–151|
|Tom Hyland, Little Mill Country Club||75-76–151|
|Tom Soares, Lehigh Country Club||78-73–151|
|Bill Charpek, Merion Golf Club||80-72–152|
|Michael Quinn, Philadelphia Publinks Golf Association||78-74–152|
|Brian Rothaus, Philmont Country Club||76-76–152|
|Michael Tash, Stone Harbor Golf Club||75-77–152|
|John Wiseman, Talamore Country Club||75-77–152|
|Christopher Clauson, LuLu Country Club||73-80–153|
|John Nottage, Commonwealth National Golf Club||75-78–153|
|Adam Armagost, Little Mill Country Club||81-73–154|
|Craig Kliewer, Lebanon Country Club||75-79–154|
|Oscar Mestre, Overbrook Golf Club||73-81–154|
|P. Chet Walsh, Philadelphia Country Club||75-79–154|
|Byron Whitman, Berkshire Country Club||80-74–154|
|Jeffrey Allen, Loch Nairn Golf Club||74-81–155|
|Brian Corbett, Country Club of Scranton||81-74–155|
|Matthew Kohn, White Clay Creek Country Club||79-76–155|
|Rand Mendez, Fieldstone Golf Club||73-82–155|
|Patrick O’Brien, North Hills Country Club||79-76–155|
|Stephen O’Sullivan, Philadelphia Cricket Club||76-79–155|
|Steve Walczak, Wilmington Country Club||78-77–155|
|Michael Anderson, Philadelphia Cricket Club||75-81–156|
|Carlos Ochoa, Little Mill Country Club||76-81–157|
|Ron Weaver, Bent Creek Country Club||76-81–157|
|Jeff Hudson, Olde Homestead Golf Club||81-77–158|
|Bryan Marvin, Old York Road Country Club||79-80–159|
|John Alterman, Commonwealth National Golf Club||79-81–160|
|Scott Carney, Commonwealth National Golf Club||81-79–160|
|Mark Kosko, Greate Bay Country Club||76-84–160|
|John Gosselin, Aronimink Golf Club||80-81–161|
|John Robinson, LuLu Country Club||77-84–161|
|James Gavaghan, Commonwealth National Golf Club||77-85–162|
|Robert Arthur, Tavistock Country Club||82-81–163|
|Pat Cahill, Whitemarsh Valley Country Club||80-83–163|
|Ed Kahn, Little Mill Country Club||85-79–164|
|Paul Hess, Hartefeld National||77-88–165|
|Andy Dietz, Laurel Creek Country Club||84-83–167|
|Andrew Sterge, Applebrook Golf Club||84-83–167|
|Blaise Giroso, Fieldstone Golf Club||80-88–168|
|Don Uhrig, LedgeRock Golf Club||85-86–171|
|Paul Leddy, Seaview Country Club||84-NS–NS|
|Dan Levinson, Philadelphia Cricket Club||81-WD–WD|
|David West, Wyncote Golf Club||80-WD–WD|
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