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50th Senior Amateur: Senior Division

Philadelphia Publinks’ Fieger retains Senior title

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.

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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).

Birdie on No. 18 (par 4, 387 yards).

“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.

GAP
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.

Name, club R1-R2–Total
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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