ABSECON, N.J. – For the first time in 2016, Don Donatoni is back in the winner’s circle – a place that he has called a second home since obtaining Super-Senior eligibility in 2013. | Scorecards | History | Laurel Creek’s Russo claims Senior crown |
The reigning three-time Super-Senior Player of the Year can now add another reign to his name. White Manor Country Club’s Donatoni claimed the Super-Senior title in the Frank H. Chapman Memorial Cup (Gross) for the second year in a row thanks to a 3-over-par 74 at Galloway National Golf Club (par 71, 6,096 yards). The victory was Donatoni’s third in the Super-Senior Major event. He also took home a Chapman (Gross) Senior title in 2008 at North Hills Country Club.
It wasn’t all fun and games for the champion on a day that combined hurricane-like gusts of wind with a challenging track. Donatoni found disarray on the front nine, much like the rest of the 43-player field. The first glimpse of trouble arrived on the bay-hugging No. 2 (par 3, 136 yards). Donatoni punched an 8-iron aimed at a difficult front-right pin, but ended with a dangerous lie off the green left. His first off-balance chip shot rolled back toward his feet. The next attempt went past the hole, and the comebacker for bogey was missed as well. A disheartening double bogey was a disastrous start for the reigning champion.
“I knew right there that I had to right the ship,” said Donatoni, 68, of Malvern, Pa. “I told myself I needed to start hitting greens and making putts. Simple as that.”
Nos. 3-6 implemented that new plan. Solid ball-striking and par saves came on every one of those holes. A hiccup, however, emerged on No. 8 (par 3, 153 yards) in result of a wayward tee shot that found tree trouble on the right. He managed to salvage bogey there – “a score that could have been much higher” – with his putter. The par-5, 485-yard 9th saw a strong drive, 3-wood and solid wedge ultimately turn in to a three-putt for another bogey. Donatoni sat 4-over through his first nine.
Then, in title-hunting fashion, Donatoni flipped a switch on.
“After that start, there was no other choice but to get something going on the back. The wind started picking up, and the conditions were not ideal,” he said. “But I ended up posting a great score – one that I was extremely proud of.”
With eight pars and a birdie (on the par-4, 337-yard 12th) on the closing nine, Donatoni finished with a score that went mostly unchallenged by an afternoon field that faced winds as high as 40 miles per hour at times.
“I felt good about this one. I got off to a bit of a challenging start this year. If someone told me this morning I would post 3 over in these conditions on a very hard golf course, I would have taken it in a second,” said Donatoni, who hasn’t played Galloway in more than 10 years. “The morning wave had less severe conditions. The wind was tricky, but it wasn’t gusting until the back nine for us. I just tried to make par on the back nine.”
Making pars, and putts for that matter, hasn’t been an easy task for the champion in 2016. He says he has gone through “four putters, multiples stances and a loss of confidence in his stroke” since the beginning of the season. That quickly changed with a simple look at his son A.J.’s golf bag.
“I couldn’t get anything going. I ended up going back to an old Scotty Cameron that was in my son’s bag, which I bought maybe 25 years ago,” he said. “It felt great out there today. The last few rounds I’ve been stroking it much better and my pace is solid again. I’m making those crucial four and five-footers again, which are always crucial. In today’s round I made around six of those little, smelly putts that sometimes get away from you.”
Donatoni is hoping his Scotty flatstick won’t get away from him when he sets foot on one of the biggest stages GAP has to offer. Thanks to a Player of the Year exemption, Donatoni will be in the field for the 116th playing of the BMW Philadelphia Amateur on Monday which includes 36-holes of stroke-play qualifying at Merion Golf Club and Philadelphia Country Club.
“I’m honored to just be in the field. It might be one of the last times I will tee it up in a [Philadelphia] Amateur Championship,” said Donatoni. “Those days are behind me. I’ll be 50 yards behind everybody, but hopefully my wedges and hybrids will be working. When you’re playing in those, you’re playing against the very best that GAP has to offer. I don’t have any illusions about it – I just want to have fun on two of the best courses out there.”
Frank H. Chapman, a Whitemarsh Valley Country Club member, served as the Association’s secretary-treasurer for 23 years. He died on June 7, 1955 at the age of 88. The Gross tournament, now in its 11th year, is held in his honor.
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 151 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.
Philadelphia’s mission is to promote, preserve and protect the game of golf.
|Don Donatoni, White Manor Country Club||74|
|Clay Hamlin, III, Merion Golf Club||78|
|Robert Billings, Rolling Green Golf Club||78|
|Daniel Burton, Lancaster Country Club||79|
|Ralph Bincarowsky, Kennett Square Golf & Country Club||79|
|Raymond Pawulich, Little Mill Country Club||79|
|William Lawler, Fox Hill Country Club||79|
|Dave Jacobson, Medford Village Country Club||80|
|Norman Linker, Old York CC at Chesterfield||80|
|Robin McCool, Saucon Valley Country Club||80|
|Theodore Beringer, Philadelphia Country Club||80|
|Michael Rose, Talamore Country Club||81|
|Michael Anton, Lookaway Golf Club||82|
|Terrence Sawyer, Mercer Oaks Golf Course||82|
|Carl Everett, Merion Golf Club||83|
|Charles McClaskey, Loch Nairn Golf Club||83|
|Lawrence Harrison, Hidden Creek Golf Club||83|
|Robert Lodovici, Little Mill Country Club||83|
|Robert Walters, DuPont Country Club||83|
|Alan Van Horn, Commonwealth National Golf Club||84|
|Frank Treml, Philadelphia Publinks GA||84|
|James Barron, Hartefeld National||84|
|Michael Nilon, Philadelphia Country Club||84|
|Ed Zebrowski, Sea Oaks Golf Club||85|
|John Owens, Tavistock Country Club||85|
|Richard Krauss, Manufacturers Golf & Country Club||85|
|David Jordan, Sakima Country Club||86|
|Donald Ashley, Philadelphia Country Club||86|
|George Collins, Sand Barrens Golf Club||86|
|Jay Ward, Cedarbrook Country Club||86|
|J. Peter Pierce, Philadelphia Country Club||87|
|Michael Rowland, Lehigh Country Club||87|
|Thomas Mallouk, Lookaway Golf Club||87|
|Eugene Maginnis, Jr., Whitemarsh Valley Country Club||88|
|Raymond Fuller, Running Deer Golf Club||88|
|Richard Smith, Philadelphia Country Club||88|
|Phil Blanck, Honeybrook Golf Club||89|
|Charles Whipple, Huntingdon Valley Country Club||92|
|John Patton, Little Mill Country Club||92|
|Jon Mabry, Moorestown Field Club||92|
|Edward Bondi, Huntingdon Valley Country Club||93|
|James Haynie, Commonwealth National Golf Club||94|
|David Brookreson, Huntingdon Valley Country Club||WD|
|Fred Jones, Merion Golf Club||WD|
|George Carr, Wedgwood Country Club||WD|
|Matthew Bellis, Commonwealth National Golf Club||WD|
|Norman Jester, Kennett Square Golf & Country Club||WD|
|Paul Koelling, Greate Bay Country Club||WD|
|Richard Speranza, Jericho National Golf Club||WD|
|Robert Van Etten, Laurel Creek Country Club||WD|
|Thomas Mairone, Philadelphia Publinks GA||WD|