The Golf Association of Philadelphiaclose_icon

Lu Lu’s Clauson captures 48th Senior Amateur Championship

CINNAMINSON, N.J. — Mother Nature didn’t halt Christopher Clauson’s quest for Senior Amateur Championship gold this time.

Scoring portal | Silver Cross Award standings | Donatoni wins Super-Senior Division in playoff | Day One recap | History | Photo gallery |

  Withstanding oppressive heat and a feisty field, he seized the tournament’s 48th edition Wednesday at Riverton Country Club (par 71, 6,386 yards). Clauson carded a 1-over-par 72 in the final round to prevail by a stroke over groupmates Christopher Fieger, Sr. of Philadelphia Publinks GA and Joseph Russo of Running Deer Golf Club. Last year, he trailed clubmate Glenn Smeraglio by two strokes after Round One. Rain shortened the event to 18 holes, forcing Clauson to settle for second.

  “It was an incomplete feeling last year,” Clauson, 62, of Philadelphia, Pa., said. “This is the first Golf Association of Philadelphia tournament that I’ve won. It’s nice. At Lu Lu, I won’t get heckled for being the only one who’s never won anything. I’ll get heckled for other things. I’ll get heckled for being a liberal.”

  No heckling or politicking after Clauson’s campaign ended with the Lu Lu Country Club member standing at the podium, addressing his Allan Sussel Memorial Trophy constituents.

  Clauson and Fieger started the day deadlocked atop the leaderboard at 3 under. Russo rounded out the final pairing, lurking at 2 under.

  What he lacked in distance compared to his compatriots, Clauson made up for in consistency. He held a two-stroke advantage before a near unraveling on the par 4, 330-yard No. 8, which Clauson deemed a turning point. Clauson’s wedge from 115 yards came out heavy. His ensuing chip contained even more meat on the bone. Clauson somehow converted a stifling uphiller to save par. Fieger missed a three-footer for birdie to move to within one.

  “Chris played great and made the putts he needed to make. I made some mental mistakes and had some three putts that hurt,” Fieger, 55, of Denver, Pa., said.

  The clash of the Christophers seemed to fade after Clauson birdied the par 4, 427-yard 12th hole. As the adrenaline pulsated, Clauson hammered an 8-iron 155 yards to six feet. He annihilated a 5-iron on No. 14 (par 3, 188 yards) when the yardage demanded less substance. Clauson overcame the overcharged swing with a 30-footer for birdie. Fieger followed with a 25-footer of his own to remain two back.

  After both players bogeyed the severe dogleg right 15th hole (par 4, 414 yards), the adrenaline resurfaced — this time for worse — on the next hole (par 3, 154 yards). Clauson launched an 8-iron into the back section of the left greenside bunker — an unwelcoming detention center.

  “I knew it was dead in that spot. I knew I had to make 4 somehow,” Clauson said.

  And he did. Clauson’s tedious sand shot slid down the back-to-front sloped green and settled in the rough. A delicate chip to a front left hole location fashioned a welcome 4. Riverton’s bunkering threatened to penalize Clauson once again on No. 17 (par 5, 476 yards). He deposited a 3-wood from 230 yards into the front left pit. A spectacular splash set up a six-footer for birdie. Fieger matched that score to remain one back. With adrenaline changing hands as rapidly as cash in a high-stakes poker game, he towered a drive over the left fairway bunkers, leaving a yardage of 190 for his second shot. Fieger blasted a 4-iron to 30 feet and narrowly missed his eagle effort on the high side.

  On the 18th hole (par 4, 354 yards), Fieger split the fairway and knocked a gap wedge 115 yards to 25 feet above the flagstick. Clauson’s drive caught the right rough. A well-struck 54-degree wedge from 100 yards landed two feet from the hole and released to 28 feet due to the downhill slope. With honors, Clauson ran his birdie attempt eight feet past the cup — a common occurrence given his trouble with green speeds on this day. Clauson, however, made the comebackers on those occasions. He didn’t do so on No. 18.

  Fieger knew what he needed to do to force a sudden-death playoff.

  “[For my birdie putt], Chris was on a similar line. I watched him putt it eight feet by,” Fieger said. “I left mine three feet short. I actually thought the second putt was going to break left. It just stayed there.”

  “It wasn’t a celebratory feeling; it was relief,” Clauson added. “I felt bad for him. You don’t want to win by someone missing a putt, but I’ll take it.”

  After signing his scorecard, Clauson leaned back in his chair and lit his first cigarette in more than a year. A celebratory drag for a man who took care of unfinished business Wednesday.

  “This is an alternate reality for my season this year. I didn’t start playing well until the U.S. Senior Amateur Qualifier [in July],” Clauson, runner-up in the 2016 Brewer Cup, said. “I figured something out two days ago [during a lesson with Scott Yurgalevich at Lu Lu]. That and the putter Mike Dynda gave me have been huge. This win feels great.”

Senior Silver Cross Award
Russo inked birdies on his last two holes to tie Fieger for runner-up honors in the Senior Amateur Championship. Those conversions also afforded a comfortable three-stroke cushion in the Senior Silver Cross Award race.

  Russo, who spent 25 years in law enforcement, filed a 3-over-par 287 total to edge two-time reigning winner Smeraglio. 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.

  “You have to play consistent to beat these guys. Surprisingly, I managed to keep it together and played well,” Russo, 60, of Washington Township, N.J., said. “After we got down to the last four holes, I knew I wasn’t going to catch Chris [Clauson for the Senior Amateur]. I knew I had a shot or two lead on Glenn. I just didn’t want to make any mistakes. Winning the Senior Silver Cross Award is something I’ve never done before, something to look forward to next year.”

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.

Name, club R1-R2–Total
Christopher Clauson, Lu Lu Country Club 68-72–140
Joseph Russo, Running Deer Golf Club 69-72–141
Christopher Fieger, Sr., Philadelphia Publinks GA 68-73–141
Brian Rothaus, Philmont Country Club 74-68–142
Rand Mendez, Fieldstone Golf Club 74-69–143
Thomas Hyland, Little Mill Country Club 72-71–143
Jeffrey Allen, Wild Quail Golf & Country Club 73-71–144
Kenneth Phillips, Lancaster Country Club 72-72–144
Glenn Smeraglio, Lu Lu Country Club 73-72–145
Michael Quinn, Philadelphia Publinks GA 76-70–146
Oscar Mestre, Overbrook Golf Club 76-71–147
David West, Philadelphia Publinks GA 75-72–147
Duke Delcher, Sandy Run Country Club 75-72–147
Mark Hutchinson, Lookaway Golf Club 74-73–147
Dennis Konczyk, Union League Golf Club at Torresdale 76-72–148
John Alterman, Commonwealth National Golf Club 74-74–148
Gregory Buliga, Yardley Country Club 73-75–148
Bob Beck, Lehigh Country Club 73-75–148
Chris Smedley, Hartefeld National 72-76–148
William McGuinness, Tavistock Country Club 76-73–149
Greg Guyer, Philadelphia Cricket Club 76-73–149
Michael Vassil, Country Club of Scranton 74-75–149
Gary Smith, Pine Valley Golf Club 74-75–149
Randy Mitchell, Wilmington Country Club 76-74–150
Patrick O’Brien, North Hills Country Club 75-75–150
Doug Jones, Little Mill Country Club 74-76–150
Bob Arthur, Tavistock Country Club 73-77–150
Joseph Roeder, Little Mill Country Club 72-78–150
George Steinmetz, Spring Ford Country Club 76-75–151
Timothy Burns, Country Club of Scranton 76-75–151
Gary Daniels, Applebrook Golf Club 74-77–151
Eric Lamm, Schuylkill Country Club 70-81–151
Alan Wagenschnur, Loch Nairn Golf Club 77-75–152
Ray Pyontek, Mercer Oaks Golf Course 76-76–152
Byron Whitman, Berkshire Country Club 76-76–152
Steve Meyer, Rolling Green Golf Club 75-77–152
Robert Gill, Fox Hill Country Club 75-77–152
Tim Sindorf, Laurel Creek Country Club 77-76–153
Carlos Ochoa, Little Mill Country Club 75-78–153
Doug Fedoryshyn, Concord Country Club 80-74–154
Bert Kosup, Lu Lu Country Club 78-76–154
Bryan McClaskey, Merchantville Country Club 77-77–154
Rich Thon, The Springhaven Club 79-76–155
Craig Kliewer, Lebanon Country Club 78-77–155
Richard Atcavage, Whitemarsh Valley Country Club 77-78–155
Jim Gavaghan, Commonwealth National Golf Club 77-79–156
David Lees, Metedeconk National Golf Club 75-81–156
Jon Stein, McCall Golf & Country Club 81-76–157
Jeff Poet, Country Club of York 79-78–157
Norman Charlesworth, Running Deer Golf Club 80-78–158
Charles Dowds, III, Applebrook Golf Club 79-79–158
Marlin Detweiler, Lancaster Country Club 77-81–158
Michael Fagan, Philadelphia Publinks GA 76-82–158
Scott Carney, Commonwealth National Golf Club 80-79–159
Michael Stanley, Aronimink Golf Club 76-83–159
Gregory Day, Old York Road Country Club 83-77–160
Drew Panebianco, Five Ponds Golf Club 80-80–160
Brian Corbett, Country Club of Scranton 78-82–160
Ed Kahn, Little Mill Country Club 78-83–161
Greg Galtere, Reading Country Club 78-83–161
Elliot Sheftel, Lehigh Country Club 83-79–162
John Kernan, Merchantville Country Club 82-80–162
Mark Cubberley, Mercer Oaks Golf Course 82-81–163
Thomas Krug, Commonwealth National Golf Club 83-81–164
Guy McKeone, Reading Country Club 82-82–164
John Ward, Greate Bay Country Club 79-85–164
Patrick Cahill, III, Whitemarsh Valley Country Club 82-84–166
Steven Lucas, Wilmington Country Club 85-82–167
Andrew Sterge, Applebrook Golf Club 86-83–169
Timothy Dickens, Five Ponds Golf Club 82-87–169
Michael Anderson, Philadelphia Cricket Club 81-89–170
Rob Cook, DuPont Country Club 91-80–171
Timothy McCabe, Bon Air Country Club 91-81–172
Paul Berg, The Springhaven Club 86-87–173
Gerald Henderson, Blue Bell Country Club 86-87–173
Scott Mayne, LedgeRock Golf Club 73-WD–WD
J. Kirk Luntey, Merion Golf Club 77-WD–WD
Frank Brigidi, III, Philadelphia Cricket Club 77-WD–WD
Bill Boyle, Metedeconk National Golf Club 77-WD–WD
Andy Thompson, Overbrook Golf Club 77-WD–WD
Robert Dietrich, Loch Nairn Golf Club 83-WD–WD
Andy Lykon, Makefield Highlands Golf Club 86-WD–WD
Bob Enders, Running Deer Golf Club 88-WD–WD
WD-withdrawal