Clauson, Fieger lead sweltering 48th Senior Amateur at Riverton

CINNAMINSON, N.J. — A pair of Christophers christened their names atop the 48th Senior Amateur Championship Tuesday at a sweltering Riverton Country Club (par 71, 6,386 yards).

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  Lu Lu Country Club’s Christopher Clauson, runner-up in the rain-shortened event a year ago, and Philadelphia Publinks GA’s Christopher Fieger, Sr., a Senior Division rookie, carded respective 3-under-par 68s to share the tournament’s 18-hole lead. Running Deer Golf Club’s Joseph Russo sits a shot back following a 2-under-par 69.

  The trio will tee off tomorrow at 1:50 p.m.

  “It’s the first time I’ve played well all year. It felt like the first time I’ve had control of my golf ball,” Clauson, 62, of Philadelphia, Pa., said. “I took a lesson yesterday with Scott Yurgalevich at Lu Lu, the Polish prince, for a half hour, and it was the best lesson I’ve had in a long time. As far as instruction goes, Mike Dynda has helped me with my putting this year. He gave me a putter that he helped design called Neo Sync. Today, I drove the ball as well as I could drive it and made putts.”

  “There’s a lot of competition out here with a lot of great players. It feels good to put up a number, especially after the way I started,” Fieger, 55, of Denver, Pa., said. “I try to teach my boys (Christopher, Jr. and Daniel) that you never give up; you hang in there. If you keep hitting quality shots, you’re going to make some birdies. The greens were a little soft, but they were in great shape. You can make some putts out here.”

  Putts for red aplenty among the co-leaders — 11 birdies and an eagle to be exact.

  The par 5, 476-yard 17th hole served as a launchpad for both. Clauson, who started on the back nine, stood at 2 over before powering a 3-wood greenside left. He then knocked a delicate chip to six feet for birdie — the first of three straight conversions. On No. 18 (par 4, 354 yards), Clauson lifted a wedge 106 yards to 25 feet and buried the uphill putt. A 90-yard wedge to 10 feet translated into a 3 on the next hole (par 4, 358 yards), too.

  Fieger, who started on the front, slammed a 5-iron 190 yards to 12 feet on No. 17. He checked the line from both sides, addressed his golf ball and issued a fist pump once the eagle roll rattled in the bottom of the cup. The moment juxtaposed an aforementioned shaky start (bogey-bogey): ball in a divot on No. 1, three-putt on No. 2 (par 4, 383 yards).

  A three-putt bogey on No. 15 (par 4, 414 yards) rounded out the rare Fieger miscues on this day. He inked four birdies in between. On No. 5 (par 4, 357 yards), Fieger, who won the Philadelphia Publinks GA’s Philadelphia Open Amateur earlier this season, smacked a sand wedge 90 yards to six feet. A driver-rescue combination presented a straightforward chip shot — at least it seemed that way.

  “I hit what I thought was a good chip shot, but all of the chip shots were hitting and just stopping. I was fortunate to make a 30-footer [for birdie] there,” Fieger, who works in sales, said.

  Fieger made it a back-to-back birdie affair by sending an 8-iron 160 yards to eight feet on No. 10 (par 4, 422 yards). He swept in a five-footer on the par 4, 382-yard 13th hole following a crisp pitching wedge from 126 yards.

  A back-to-back birdie sequence also aided Clauson’s quest Tuesday. Standing two shots back of Fieger at the time, he drilled a 9-iron 130 yards to the back of the No. 5 (par 4, 357 yards) green. Clauson barely touched a 15-footer, which subsequently snuck into the hole. “The best 4-iron I’ve ever hit” resulted in a 15-footer for birdie on the par 3, 204-yard No. 6.

  “It was such a surprise to come out here and play well,” Clauson, a contractor, said. “I don’t have any expectations for tomorrow. The course is definitely gettable, depending on where [Golf Association of Philadelphia officials] put the flagsticks.”

  Whereas Clauson unearthed a competitive revelation in an otherwise tepid campaign, Fieger is in the midst of a steady Senior debut. He won the GAP Senior Four-Man Team alongside Buck Jones, Brian Rothaus and Jim Yenser and posted a Top-10 finish in the Pennsylvania Golf Association’s Senior Amateur Championship presented by LECOM.

  “I’ve been hitting the ball solid. My putting’s been up-and-down this summer,” Fieger said. “I’ll keep doing what I’m doing tomorrow. Fairways and greens are usually what my strength is.”

  Russo is within Senior Amateur striking distance and in the Senior Silver Cross Award lead. He holds a three-stroke lead over two-time reigning winner Glenn Smeraglio of Lu Lu Country Club entering the final leg. The Senior Silver Cross Award is presented to the player with the lowest aggregate score in the Francis B. Warner Cup (Gross), Frank H. Chapman Cup (Gross) and Senior Amateur Championship.

  “Fortunately, I drove the ball phenomenal all day. I drove it long. I drove it straight,” Russo, 60, of Washington Township, N.J., said. “If I could just do the same thing I did today — I only missed two greens, then I’ll be in good shape.”

NOTES — The Springhaven Club’s Rich Thon aced the par 3, 154-yard 16th hole with a choke-down 5-iron. It marked his third career hole-in-one and second in a GAP competition (No. 8 at White Manor Country Club during the 2011 Joseph H. Patterson Cup).

Golf Association of Philadelphia
Founded in 1897, the Golf Association of Philadelphia (GAP) 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 260 Full Member Clubs and 75,000 individual members are spread across Eastern Pennsylvania and parts of New Jersey and Delaware. As Philadelphia’s Most Trusted Source of Golf Information, the Golf Association of Philadelphia’s mission is to promote, preserve and protect the game of golf.

Senior Division results
Name, club Score
Christopher Fieger, Sr., Philadelphia Publinks GA 68
Christopher Clauson, Lu Lu Country Club 68
Joseph Russo, Running Deer Golf Club 69
Eric Lamm, Schuylkill Country Club 70
Thomas Hyland, Little Mill Country Club 72
Kenneth Phillips, Lancaster Country Club 72
Joseph Roeder, Little Mill Country Club 72
Chris Smedley, Hartefeld National 72
Bob Arthur, Tavistock Country Club 73
Scott Mayne, LedgeRock Golf Club 73
Jeffrey Allen, Wild Quail Golf & Country Club 73
Bob Beck, Lehigh Country Club 73
Gregory Buliga, Yardley Country Club 73
Glenn Smeraglio, Lu Lu Country Club 73
Mark Hutchinson, Lookaway Golf Club 74
Doug Jones, Little Mill Country Club 74
John Alterman, Commonwealth National Golf Club 74
Gary Daniels, Applebrook Golf Club 74
Rand Mendez, Fieldstone Golf Club 74
Brian Rothaus, Philmont Country Club 74
Gary Smith, Pine Valley Golf Club 74
Michael Vassil, Country Club of Scranton 74
Duke Delcher, Sandy Run Country Club 75
Robert Gill, Fox Hill Country Club 75
David Lees, Metedeconk National Golf Club 75
Steve Meyer, Rolling Green Golf Club 75
Patrick O’Brien, North Hills Country Club 75
Carlos Ochoa, Little Mill Country Club 75
David West, Philadelphia Publinks GA 75
Timothy Burns, Country Club of Scranton 76
Michael Fagan, Philadelphia Publinks GA 76
Greg Guyer, Ph.D., Philadelphia Cricket Club 76
Dennis Konczyk, Union League Golf Club at Torresdale 76
William McGuinness, Tavistock Country Club 76
Randy Mitchell, Wilmington Country Club 76
Ray Pyontek, Mercer Oaks Golf Course 76
Michael Quinn, Philadelphia Publinks GA 76
Michael Stanley, Aronimink Golf Club 76
Oscar Mestre, Overbrook Golf Club 76
George Steinmetz, Spring Ford Country Club 76
Byron Whitman, Berkshire Country Club 76
Bill Boyle, Metedeconk National Golf Club 77
Frank Brigidi, III, Philadelphia Cricket Club 77
J. Kirk Luntey, Merion Golf Club 77
Bryan McClaskey, Merchantville Country Club 77
Tim Sindorf, Laurel Creek Country Club 77
Andy Thompson, Overbrook Golf Club 77
Richard Atcavage, Whitemarsh Valley Country Club 77
Marlin Detweiler, Lancaster Country Club 77
Jim Gavaghan, Commonwealth National Golf Club 77
Alan Wagenschnur, Loch Nairn Golf Club 77
Greg Galtere, Reading Country Club 78
Ed Kahn, Little Mill Country Club 78
Bert Kosup, Lu Lu Country Club 78
Brian Corbett, Country Club of Scranton 78
Craig Kliewer, Lebanon Country Club 78
Jeff Poet, Country Club of York 79
John Ward, Greate Bay Country Club 79
Charles Dowds, III, Applebrook Golf Club 79
Rich Thon, The Springhaven Club 79
Scott Carney, Commonwealth National Golf Club 80
Norman Charlesworth, Running Deer Golf Club 80
Doug Fedoryshyn, Concord Country Club 80
Drew Panebianco, Five Ponds Golf Club 80
Michael Anderson, Philadelphia Cricket Club 81
Jon Stein, McCall Golf & Country Club 81
Patrick Cahill, III, Whitemarsh Valley Country Club 82
Timothy Dickens, Five Ponds Golf Club 82
John Kernan, Merchantville Country Club 82
Guy McKeone, Reading Country Club 82
Mark Cubberley, Mercer Oaks Golf Course 82
Thomas Krug, Commonwealth National Golf Club 83
Elliot Sheftel, Lehigh Country Club 83
Gregory Day, Old York Road Country Club 83
Robert Dietrich, Loch Nairn Golf Club 83
Steven Lucas, Wilmington Country Club 85
Gerald Henderson, Blue Bell Country Club 86
Andy Lykon, Makefield Highlands Golf Club 86
Paul Berg, The Springhaven Club 86
Andrew Sterge, Applebrook Golf Club 86
Bob Enders, Running Deer Golf Club 88
Rob Cook, DuPont Country Club 91
Timothy McCabe, Bon Air Country Club 91
John Donnelly, Concord Country Club WD
Arthur Kania, Jr., Merion Golf Club WD
Steve Levine, Greate Bay Country Club WD
Joseph Lewis, Aronimink Golf Club WD
Grant Liu, Merion Golf Club WD
Peter Mimmo, Philmont Country Club WD
Buddy Reed, Loch Nairn Golf Club WD
Frank Corrado, Jr., Lu Lu Country Club WD
Thomas Finn, Loch Nairn Golf Club WD
John Robinson, Lu Lu Country Club WD
Raymond Thompson, Overbrook Golf Club WD
Steven Walczak, Wilmington Country Club WD
Trey Watts, Jericho National Golf Club WD
Ron Weaver, Bent Creek Country Club WD
Todd Anderson, Wilmington Country Club WD
WD — withdrawal