LAFAYETTE HILL, Pa. — The Brewer Cup is a Golf Association of Philadelphia Senior event, but it’s a stereotypical high school scene that best describes the 7th edition’s semifinals. Chip Lutz, the 2011 champion and four-time reigning Senior Player of the Year, sports the sly quarterback’s jacket and the sparkling shades to boot. He’s flanked by equally debonair and title-proven players Thomas Bartolacci, Jr. (2012) and Robin McCool (2013).
And strolling down the hallway is a laid-back, fun-loving James Muller, the new kid in school with nothing to lose and everything to gain. The mustachioed Manufacturers Golf & Country Club member joined the Brewer Cup title trio Tuesday at Whitemarsh Valley Country Club by upending Wilmington Country Club’s Thomas Humphrey in 19 holes in the quarterfinals. He will oppose McCool of Saucon Valley Country Club tomorrow at 8:07 a.m., seven minutes after the Bartolacci and Lutz battle begins.
“They need a new name on the board. There’s nothing wrong with that,” Muller, 61, of Huntingdon Valley, Pa. said. “I’ve gotten much better [at keeping a laid-back approach on the golf course]. I used to be pretty hotheaded. When you play enough and you’re decent, sooner or later, you’re going to play a couple of holes good. You just wait for those couple holes. That’s what it’s like for me.”
The only waiting Muller seemed to experience Tuesday occurred between rounds. He turned in the day’s largest margin of victory by knocking off Commonwealth National Golf Club’s Alan Van Horn, 7&6, in the Round of 16.
The afternoon told a different story, however.
Muller gained a 2-up edge after stuffing a sand wedge to eight feet for a birdie on No. 13 (par 4, 370 yards). But Humphrey mustered a rush of resistance and reeled off three consecutive wins (Nos. 14-16) to gain control. With Humphrey in the No. 17 (par 5, 488 yards) fairway — 180 yards from the flagstick, Muller sensed he needed a spectacular second shot. And did he deliver, powering a 3-wood 240 yards to 12 feet. Humphrey missed the green but managed a birdie halve. On No. 18 (par 4, 404 yards), he flew the green and failed to get up-and-down for par while Muller rammed in a testy five-footer to force overtime. On the first extra hole (No. 1, par 4, 354 yards ) Muller split the fairway with a booming drive, hit a gap wedge 105 yards to 15 feet and two-putted. Another missed green for Humphrey sealed his fate.
Bartolacci outraced Concord Country Club’s Doug Fedoryshyn, 4&3, to earn a date with Lutz, who edged Old York Country Club at Chesterfield’s Tom DiCinti, 2&1.
“It’s a privilege to watch him play golf. He is levels above us,” Bartolacci, 63, of Washington Crossing, Pa., said. “But that’s why you play the matches. He’s got to be off, and I’ve got to on to make it a match. If he’s on, there’s nobody close to him. He’s the new sheriff in town for a long time.”
“I played with Tommy in the qualifier, and I just know he’s a good player,” Lutz, 59, of Reading, Pa., said. “He’s got his old putter back, so he’s all cranked up. He’s got some confidence going with that thing, and that’s dangerous as an opponent. I know I’m going to have to bring an A game tomorrow to get by him.”
The putter ignited spectacular play from Bartolacci Tuesday. He boasted a stroke play equivalent of 4 under in both of his victories. The new yet old flatstick heightens Bartolacci’s feel for Whitemarsh Valley’s green speeds.
“I’ve been struggling with my putter, going back and forth,” he said. “I’ve tried the short putter. That didn’t work. I tried the long putter yesterday. That didn’t work. So I went back to the putter I keep saying I’m not going to putt with anymore.”
Bartolacci may want to continue repeating that. He moved to 2-up against Fedoryshyn following a birdie on No. 10 (par 4, 375 yards), where he stuffed a knockdown 9-iron from 132 yards to a foot. Another on the par 4, 370-yard 13th hole ultimately iced the contest. Bartolacci sent a gap wedge 95 yards to 12 feet.
Lutz appeared well on his way to a resounding victory over DiCinti. Wins on Nos. 7-11 put a 5-up margin on the scoreboard. However, DiCinti birdies on Nos. 12 (par 3, 164 yards) and 14 (par 4, 376 yards), and a victory on No. 16 (par 3, 144 yards) following a failed Lutz sand save, turned the tables a bit. On the par 5, 488-yard 17th hole, DiCinti attempted to depart the right fairway bunker with a 5-wood, but bounced it off the lip and back onto the fairway. He then stopped a 4-iron at three feet.
“He kind of put a little pressure back on me. I’m thinking I have to make 4 after that,” Lutz said.
And so he did. Lutz launched a 6-iron 188 yards to 20 feet below the hole location and cozied his eagle attempt for a conceded 4 and a handshake.
The Division’s reigning Player of the Year and its current points leader will clash tomorrow in one of the semifinal matches. White Manor Country Club’s Don Donatoni faces Fox Hill Country Club’s William Lawler at 8:15 a.m.
Donatoni, 66, of Malvern, Pa., ousted No. 1 seed Thomas O’Rourke of Chester Valley Golf Club, 5&3. Lawler, 66, of West Wyoming, Pa., snuck past two-time Super-Senior POY Charles McClaskey of Back Creek Golf Club, 1-up.
“I’ve been fortunate to have been paired with Don a number of times,” Lawler said. “Last year, when he had that fantastic season, I think I played with him just about every round. He was just sensational. He’s a great guy.”
In his bout against McClaskey, Lawler significantly separated thanks to a four-hole stretch of wins, which featured birdies on Nos. 5 (par 5, 478 yards) and 6 (par 4, 336 yards). He rolled in an eight-footer on the first and knocked a 6-iron 155 yards to 20 feet on the latter. McClaskey cut the deficit in half with victories on Nos. 8 (par 4, 395 yards) and 9 (par 3, 108 yards), but a stream of Lawler pars coming in hastened a complete comeback.
In the bottom portion of the bracket, John Rowe of the host club defeated Tavistock Country Club’s John Owens, 4&3 to gain the semifinals. The 24-year Whitemarsh Valley member owes an assist to home-field advantage.
“It helps a lot,” Rowe, 67, of Philadelphia, Pa., said. “I was the greens chairman for 20 years, so I’ve been working on all of the renovations forever. I just played standard match play today, which is trying to make as many pars as I could.”
Gulph Mills Golf Club’s Hugh Kenworthy, III spoiled a potential all-Whitemarsh affair by edging Frank Polizzi, 1-up, in the quarterfinals. That decisive margin came on No. 17 (par 5, 452 yards), where Kenworthy stopped a 40-yard pitch at three feet for birdie.
“He was great to play with — a real gentleman,” Kenworthy, 67, of Newtown Square, Pa., said. “I’ve watched [Rowe and Polizzi} play, and they can both chip, putt and get the ball in the hole.”
“Both Frank and I were nervous as heck yesterday, and even more nervous today,” Rowe said. “You’re playing in front of your hometown, so the expectations are through the roof.”
The Kenworthy/Rowe match gets underway at 8:22 a.m. tomorrow.
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. Five years ago he was recognized for his contributions to the game with the USGA’s Bob Jones Award.
Golf Association of Philadelphia
Founded in 1897, the Golf Association of Philadelphia (GAP) is the oldest regional golf association in the United States and serves as the principal ruling body of amateur golf in its region. Its 150 Member Clubs and 57,000 individual members are spread across parts of Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware and Maryland. 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.
Round of 16
1. Chip Lutz, LedgeRock GC d. 16. Richard Custer, Reading CC, 3&2
9. Tom DiCinti, Old York CC at Chesterfield, d. 8. Jim Gavaghan, Jericho National GC, 2&1
4. Thomas Bartolacci, Jr., Saucon Valley CC, d. 13. Bob Majczan, Lookaway GC, 6&4
5. Doug Fedoryshyn, Concord CC d. 12. Robert Dietrich, Loch Nairn GC, 5&4
2. Robin McCool, Saucon Valley CC d. 15. Jim Macallister, Manufacturers G&CC, 3&2
10. Gary Daniels, Applebrook GC d. 7. Robert Wagner, Merion GC, 1-up
3. James Muller, Manufacturers G&CC d. 14. Alan Van Horn, Commonwealth National GC, 7&6
11. Thomas Humphrey, Wilmington CC d. 6. Byron Whitman, Golden Oaks GC, 1-up
Lutz d. DiCinti, 2&1
Bartolacci d. Fedoryshyn, 4&3
McCool d. Daniels, 4&3
Muller d. Humphrey, 19 holes
8. Don Donatoni, White Manor CC d. Thomas O’Rourke, Chester Valley GC, 5&3
5. William Lawler, Fox Hill CC d. 4. Charles McClaskey, Back Creek GC, 1-up
7. Hugh Kenworthy, III, Gulph Mills GC d. 2. Frank Polizzi, Whitemarsh Valley CC, 1-up
3. John Rowe, Whitemarsh Valley CC d. John Owens, M.D., Tavistock CC, 4&3
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