Mestre, Donatoni take Warner Cup titles at Burlington
BURLINGTON, N.J. — Oscar Mestre didn’t need any extra encouragement. He had the spirit of close friend Ray Thompson, who died unexpectedly at age 67 in November, on his shoulder all day.
Emotional, inspired, and, obviously talented, Mestre, 59, of Overbrook Golf Club, posted a tidy 3-under-par 67 at Burlington Country Club (par 70, 6,430 yards) on a warm, sunny day to take his first Warner Cup (Gross) – the opening Senior Division Major of the season.
“It sounds corny to say but I definitely thought about Ray a lot today,” said Mestre who joins two-time winner Thompson on the trophy (2007, 2009). “When I got it to a couple under par I said ‘Ray would be yelling at me to keep it going.’ I got it 4 under (thru 14). I was trying to stay in the moment and not get too ahead of myself or too sentimental or too nervous which are all difficult things to do. I hit the ball as well and as solid as I have in a really long time.”
The victory is Mestre’s second Senior Major victory. He took the 2018 Frank H. Chapman Memorial Cup (Gross). He and Thompson are the two-time reigning Senior Four-Ball champions.
“That is super special,” said Mestre of Berwyn, Pa., with a quiver in his voice when asked about being on the same trophy with Thompson. “Super special.”
Mestre’s round would make Thompson proud.
He recorded four birdies and one bogey. A strong iron game saw Mestre hit 16 of 18 greens.
He birdied Nos. 2 (par 3, 203 yards) and 4 (par 5, 505 yards) on the front nine. He knocked a 4-iron to eight feet on No. 2 and ripped a 5-iron from 201 yards to 15 feet on the par 5, fourth, and two putted.
On the inward nine, Mestre registered back-to-back red figures to extend his advantage on the field.
On No. 13 (par 4, 419 yards), he knocked a pitching wedge from the left rough to 12 feet and sank the putt. On No. 14 (par 5, 524 yards), Mestre knocked a gap wedge from 102 yards to 14 feet.
The former University of Delaware letterman’s lone blemish came on No. 17 (par 4, 398 yards). His drive found the left rough and, facing a funky lie, watched his second shot 9-iron from 150 yards out come up short of the green. He failed to get up-and-down.
The senior circuit has reinvigorated Mestre’s GAP career. He is a former Middle-Amateur Championship winner (2002) and multiple-time BMW GAP Team Matches victor. Mestre was the Overbrook team captain in 2014 when the first team took the Team Matches titles.
“I think it’s about the comfort level,” said Mestre, who serves as GAP’s Executive Committee Vice President, when asked why about the sudden victory surge. “When I was in my 40s and early 50s, I was playing with the younger guys and there really isn’t much conversation. With the senior guys, I’ve played with and against for so many years it’s about playing with old friends again. Additionally, I’ve kept myself in pretty good physical shape.”
There was a three-way tie for second place with Jeff Allen of Wild Quail Golf & Country Club; Randy Mitchell of Wilmington Country Club and Paul Rogowicz of Yardley Country Club all finishing at even-par 70. This was the Senior debut for Rogowicz, who finished runner-up in the 2006 BMW Philadelphia Amateur Championship.
“I was excited and nervous and anxious. I was looking forward to competing with all the guys I’ve competed with before,” said Rogowicz, 55, of Yardley, Pa. “It was great to see everyone again. It was a lot of fun.”
Not even a recent hernia surgery could calm the six-straight Super-Senior Player of the Year’s dominance.
Despite a health setback six weeks ago, White Manor Country Club’s Don Donatoni was back firing on all cylinders Thursday at Burlington Country Club (par 70, 6,028 yards), carding a 3-under 67 to take the Super-Senior Division in the Francis B. Warner Cup (Gross).
“My first round of the year came last weekend in the [BMW GAP Team Matches], and it was a slow progression coming back from the hernia surgery. I wasn’t sure where my game was at, to be honest, and the recovery involved some loss of strength,” said Donatoni, 71, of Malvern, Pa. “But after today, I can confidently say that my recovery and my golf game are back at 100 percent.”
The Warner Cup trophy can back that statement up as a fact.
The champion’s first GAP Major round of the season didn’t begin as planned, however. Two bogeys came on Donatoni’s first two holes, Nos. 1 (par 4, 401 yards) and 2 (par 3, 192 yards).
“After the first two holes, I really had to tell myself to get it together. I had to dig in and get my round back to even,” he said.
Birdies on Nos. 6 (par 4, 391 yards) and No. 7 (par 4, 380 yards) erased the over-par digits. Donatoni’s first red number of the day came in result of a jarred 10 footer, while the second “unexpectedly” fell from 25 feet. Donatoni headed to Burlington’s back at 1-over par.
Three straight birdies kickstarted the champion’s second nine. On the par-3, 125-yard 10th, Donatoni’s 9-iron led to a six-foot make for 2. Another six-foot birdie dropped on No. 11 (par 4, 338 yards). The hot streak continued on No. 12 (par 3, 156 yards) as a 7-iron tee shot rolled out to 20 feet, and then the birdie putt rolled in.
Donatoni’s round ended with, quite literally, a roaring applause. His drive set up him in position A, an estimated 85 yards out. A trusty gap wedge approach was struck, took one skip, spun, and tracked back to the hole as an overlooking gallery of Burlington members cheered on the golf ball. Nearly a hole out, a tap-in was all that was left. Donatoni tipped his cap to the crowd, and in turn, secured the trophy with the round of 67.
“It was a great round of golf. I’m very happy with the way I was able to come out here and play today,” said Donatoni.
Today’s title marks the third Warner Cup crown for Donatoni – his first since 2015 at Little Mill Country Club. After a rough Warner Cup showing last season (13-over 84 at Concord Country Club), Donatoni was able to bounce back with strong showings the rest of the season, leading to a sixth-straight Super-Senior Player of the Year honor. That 84 is now long in the distance, and even more so after today’s performance.
“On my long drive over here today, that 84 last year was in the back of my head. I was definitely thinking about it, especially after bogeying the first two holes,” said the champion. “I think my ride home will be a little different.”
Francis B. Warner of Philadelphia Cricket Club served as the Golf Association of Philadelphia’s secretary-treasurer for 18 years. After his death in 1933, the Association started the Francis B. Warner Cup as an ongoing tribute in his memory. It is the first Senior Major of the Golf Association of Philadelphia’s tournament season.
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 274 Full 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.
|Name, club, score|
|Oscar Mestre, Overbrook Golf Club||67|
|Jeffrey Allen, Wild Quail Golf & Country Club||70|
|Randy Mitchell, Wilmington Country Club||70|
|Paul Rogowicz, Yardley Country Club||70|
|William McGuinness, Tavistock Country Club||71|
|Michael Anderson, Philadelphia Cricket Club||72|
|Robert Gill, Fox Hill Country Club||72|
|Brian Rothaus, Philmont Country Club||73|
|Glenn Smeraglio, Lu Lu Country Club||73|
|Steven Walczak, Wilmington Country Club||73|
|Adam Armagost, Philadelphia Publinks GA||74|
|Craig Kliewer, Lebanon Country Club||74|
|Patrick O’Brien, North Hills Country Club||74|
|Drew Panebianco, Five Ponds Golf Club||74|
|David Blichar, Olde Homestead Golf Club||75|
|Christopher Clauson, Lu Lu Country Club||75|
|Kirk Larsen, St. Davids Golf Club||75|
|Carlos Ochoa, Little Mill Country Club||75|
|George Steinmetz, Spring Ford Country Club||75|
|Byron Whitman, Berkshire Country Club||75|
|Mark Cubberley, Mercer Oaks Golf Course||76|
|Robert Harrington, Merion Golf Club||76|
|Joseph Roeder, Little Mill Country Club||76|
|Joseph Russo, Laurel Creek Country Club||76|
|Chip Studer, North Hills Country Club||76|
|Michael Tash, The Springhaven Club||76|
|John Alterman, Commonwealth National Golf Club||77|
|Brian Corbett, Country Club of Scranton||77|
|Thomas Krug, Commonwealth National Golf Club||77|
|Scott Mayne, LedgeRock Golf Club||77|
|Eric Meyer, Whitford Country Club||77|
|John Nottage, Commonwealth National Golf Club||77|
|Michael Quinn, Philadelphia Publinks GA||77|
|John Robinson, Lu Lu Country Club||77|
|Gary Smith, Pine Valley Golf Club||77|
|Michael Vassil, Country Club of Scranton||77|
|Paul Berg, The Springhaven Club||78|
|Gregory Buliga, Yardley Country Club||78|
|Gregory Day, Old York Road Country Club||78|
|Thomas Finn, Loch Nairn Golf Club||78|
|John Gosselin, Kennett Square Golf & Country Club||78|
|Thomas Hyland, Little Mill Country Club||78|
|Rand Mendez, Fieldstone Golf Club||78|
|Alan Wagenschnur, Loch Nairn Golf Club||78|
|Trey Watts, Jericho National Golf Club||78|
|Bob Beck, Lehigh Country Club||79|
|John Conway, Little Mill Country Club||79|
|Jay Desjardins, Waynesborough Country Club||79|
|John Donnelly, Concord Country Club||79|
|Eric Lamm, Schuylkill Country Club||79|
|Elliot Sheftel, Lehigh Country Club||79|
|Jon Stein, McCall Golf Club||79|
|Patrick Cahill, III, Whitemarsh Valley Country Club||80|
|Andrew Dietz, Laurel Creek Country Club||80|
|Mark Kosko, Little Mill Country Club||80|
|Scott McIntosh, Makefield Highlands Golf Club||80|
|Matt Mingione, The 1912 Club||80|
|Tim Sindorf, Laurel Creek Country Club||80|
|Jim Yenser, Raven’s Claw Golf Club||80|
|Norman Charlesworth, Running Deer Golf Club||81|
|Paul Dansbury, Yardley Country Club||81|
|Mark Ellinger, Whitford Country Club||81|
|Jim Gavaghan, Commonwealth National Golf Club||81|
|Greg Guyer, Philadelphia Cricket Club||81|
|Pierce Herbst, Sea Oaks Country Club||81|
|Dennis Konczyk, Union League Golf Club at Torresdale||81|
|Andy Lykon, Makefield Highlands Golf Club||81|
|Andrew Sterge, Applebrook Golf Club||81|
|Kenneth Silverwood, Chester Valley Golf Club||82|
|Thomas Soares, Lehigh Country Club||82|
|Denis Darragh, Olde Homestead Golf Club||83|
|Jeff Fialko, Aronimink Golf Club||83|
|Tim McCabe, Bon Air Country Club||83|
|John Ward, Greate Bay Country Club||83|
|David West, Wyncote Golf Club||84|
|Scott Carney, Commonwealth National Golf Club||85|
|Bob Enders, Running Deer Golf Club||85|
|Bryan McClaskey, Merchantville Country Club||85|
|Jim Muehlbronner, Sandy Run Country Club||85|
|Jeffrey Pelesh, Rolling Green Golf Club||85|
|Rich Thon, The Springhaven Club||85|
|Robert Tredinnick, Commonwealth National Golf Club||85|
|Eugene Haag, Tavistock Country Club||86|
|Ed Kahn, Little Mill Country Club||86|
|Andy McCormick, Lancaster Country Club||87|
|Jeffrey Zalis, Medford Lakes Country Club||87|
|Mark Sheets, Kennett Square Golf & Country Club||90|
|David Justi, RiverCrest Golf Club & Preserve||93|
|Chuck Kraatz, Talamore Country Club||93|
|Bill Boyle, Metedeconk National Golf Club||WD|
|Rob Cook, DuPont Country Club||WD|
|Doug Fedoryshyn, Concord Country Club||WD|
|Jon Lavin, Rolling Green Golf Club||WD|
|Kevin Sartell, Wild Quail Golf & Country Club||WD|
|Mark Walker, Laurel Creek Country Club||WD|
|Ron Weaver, Bent Creek Country Club||WD|
|Robert Frankil, Bellewood Country Club||NS|
|Don Donatoni, White Manor Country Club||67|
|Gary Daniels, Applebrook Golf Club||71|
|Tom Borsello, Hartefeld National||73|
|Joe Cordaro, Saucon Valley Country Club||73|
|Robin McCool, Saucon Valley Country Club||73|
|Frank Polizzi, Whitemarsh Valley Country Club||73|
|Charles Dowds, III, Applebrook Golf Club||74|
|Thomas Humphrey, Wilmington Country Club||74|
|Buck Jones, Philadelphia Publinks GA||74|
|Michael Moser, Kennett Square Golf & Country Club||74|
|Robert Dietrich, Loch Nairn Golf Club||75|
|Richard Custer, Bellewood Country Club||76|
|James Muller, Manufacturers’ Golf & Country Club||76|
|John Gonsior, Limekiln Golf Club||76|
|Craig Scott, Great Bear Golf Club||77|
|Thomas Bartolacci, Jr., Lu Lu Country Club||78|
|Robert Billings, Rolling Green Golf Club||79|
|John Cech, Riverton Country Club||79|
|Dave Jacobson, Medford Village Country Club||79|
|Jon Mabry, Moorestown Field Club||79|
|Charles McClaskey, Philadelphia Publinks GA||79|
|Alan Over, Bent Creek Country Club||79|
|Matthew Bellis, Commonwealth National Golf Club||80|
|Raymond Pawulich, Little Mill Country Club||80|
|Alan Van Horn, Commonwealth National Golf Club||80|
|Willard Woolbert, Philadelphia Cricket Club||80|
|Tom DiCinti, Mercer Oaks Golf Course||81|
|Howard Press, Little Mill Country Club||81|
|Bob Majczan, Lookaway Golf Club||82|
|James Prendergast, Spring Ford Country Club||82|
|Gil Golding, Commonwealth National Golf Club||83|
|Terry Law, Yardley Country Club||83|
|Gene Maginnis, Whitemarsh Valley Country Club||84|
|Art Brosius, DuPont Country Club||85|
|Gary Gordon, Philadelphia Cricket Club||86|
|Roc Irey, Lookaway Golf Club||87|
|Robert Lodovici, Little Mill Country Club||89|
|Michael Rose, Talamore Country Club||89|
|Robert Ockenfuss, Makefield Highlands Golf Club||WD|
|Richard Atcavage, Whitemarsh Valley Country Club||WD|
|WD – withdrawal; NS – no show|