MARLTON, N.J. – Don Donatoni of White Manor Country Club knows a thing or two about winning golf tournaments. He not only feels confident in big moments, but he thrives in them. The two-time reigning Super-Senior Player of the Year backed up that claim on Thursday at Little Mill Country Club (par 71, 6,170 yards), edging out David Brookreson of Huntingdon Valley Country Club in a four-hole playoff to win the Super-Senior Division of the 81st Francis B. Warner Cup (Gross). | Scoresheets | History | Charlesworth charges to Senior crown
Both players finished the steamy-weather day with 4-over 75s, but needed four extra holes and a self-imposed penalty to decipher a champion.
After playing the first two playoff holes in eerily similar fashion, the competitors headed to No. 3 (par 3, 177 yards), where Donatoni missed a chance to secure the victory. Brookreson came up just short of the green, left a putt from distance 20-feet short, and drained the long-par putt to put some pressure on his friend and competitor. Donatoni, who stuck a high 5-iron to six feet, lipped out on his birdie putt and made three to essentially halve the hole.
“It was just above the hole so I couldn’t be aggressive on it. It was a slight right to left downhill putt. ‘Brookie’ had just made a terrific 20-foot to save par. I struck it right where I wanted to on the right line, but I hit it slowly. For some reason, it caught some Poa annua and it just moved the ball right on me,” said the 67-year-old Donatoni. “It was a stunner. I wasn’t really prepared for that. Here I am looking at two opportunities to win the hole, and I came up with nothing.”
The playoff continued on the difficult No. 8 hole (par 4, 385 yards). Brookreson crushed a drive to the right side of the fairway. Donatoni pulled a 3-wood slightly left, hitting a tree. He closed the face of his 5-iron and hit a sweeping hook under the tree limbs to 30 yards.
Brookreson painted the No. 8 flagstick with an uphill 6-iron from 158 yards. The day’s firm and fast conditions facilitated the ensuing result.
“It hit on the front of the green and I thought it was going to stop, but it just trickled two inches over the green. I couldn’t putt it because it settled way down [in the deep rough on the fringe],” Brookreson, 66, of Huntingdon Valley, Pa., said.
Given the buried lie, Brookreson attempted to unearth his golf ball with a wedge, only to inflict a self-imposed penalty that ultimately determined the playoff’s outcome.
“I double hit my chip shot. There was no doubt,” Brookreson said. “I hit two good shots, and sometimes that’s golf.”
Brookreson was penalized under Rule 14 – 4, which states: “If a player’s club strikes the ball more than once in the course of a stroke, the player must count the stroke and add a penalty stroke, making two strokes in all.” Donatoni, on his third stroke, hit a lob wedge to 12 feet and two-putted for a 5 and a victory.
To prompt a playoff, Brookreson, who won the event’s Senior title in 2006, birdied the par 5, 516-yard 16th hole by sticking a pitching wedge 120 yards to 18 inches. Thursday’s performance rejuvenated one of the Association’s most accomplished players. Brookreson, a two-time Senior Amateur Champion (2005, 2009) and Senior Player of the Year (2004-05), suffers from Raynaud’s syndrome, a condition in which some areas of the body feel numb and cool in certain circumstances. It’s significantly impacted his life — and golf game — in recent years.
“That condition never gets better, so you just try to manage it,” Brookreson, who holds six Major titles and two Silver Cross Awards, said. “I’ve been lucky. I’ve had it for 40 years and now it’s creeping up faster on me. I still have good days and bad days health-wise. I woke up this morning, and my feet felt pretty good, so that was a sign.
“The way I’ve played the last two years, I’m very happy with the way I played today. It felt great to get back at it. There’s nothing wrong with second place.”
Donatoni’s been at it since becoming Super-Senior eligible. He holds a pair of Super-Senior Warner Cup (Gross) titles, the exception being a playoff loss a year ago. Donatoni won every Super-Senior event in 2013, and won the Super-Senior Silver Cross Award and the Super-Senior title at the Brewer Cup in 2014. While many have high expectations for his game in 2015, he’ll remind you this is only the beginning of a long tournament season.
“I’ve been playing well lately and striking the ball well. It’s early. I feel pretty confident in my game and if I continue to work on my short game and make putts, I’ll be fine,” said Donatoni, a resident of Malvern, Pa. “I’m off to a great start this year, which is kind of nice, but there is a lot of golf to play. “
Plenty of golf left to play, meaning plenty of potential moments for Donatoni to thrive in.
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. The event marks the first Senior Major of the organization’s tournament season.
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.
|*Don Donatoni, White Manor Country Club||75|
|David Brookreson, Huntingdon Valley Country Club||75|
|Richard Krauss, Manufacturers Golf & Country Club||76|
|Carl Everett, Merion Golf Club||77|
|Dave Jacobson, Medford Village Country Club||78|
|Edward Pappas, Rolling Green Golf Club||78|
|James Ward, Cedarbrook Country Club||78|
|Craig Scott, Huntingdon Valley Country Club||79|
|Michael Anton, Lookaway Golf Club||79|
|Jon Mabry, Moorestown Field Club||80|
|Michael Civitello, Chester Valley Golf Club||80|
|Charles Caparo, Plymouth Country Club||81|
|Donald Ashley, Philadelphia Country Club||81|
|David Jordan, Sakima Country Club||82|
|Michael Nilon, Philadelphia Country Club||82|
|Paul Koelling, Greate Bay Country Club||82|
|Raymond Pawulich, Little Mill Country Club||82|
|Terry Law, Yardley Country Club||82|
|Alan Van Horn, Commonwealth National Golf Club||83|
|Greg Gottshall, Bellewood Country Club||83|
|John Rowe, Whitemarsh Valley Country Club||83|
|Michael Rose, Talamore Country Club||83|
|Frank Polizzi, Whitemarsh Valley Country Club||85|
|Frank Treml, Philadelphia Publinks GA||85|
|Raymond Fuller, Running Deer Golf Club||85|
|Curt Fromal, The Springhaven Club||86|
|Frank Petrecco, Yardley Country Club||86|
|Thomas Mallouk, Lookaway Golf Club||86|
|Charles McClaskey, Back Creek Golf Club||87|
|Michael Rowland, Lehigh Country Club||87|
|Stanley Casacio, Cedarbrook Country Club||87|
|John Owens, M.D., Tavistock Country Club||88|
|John Patton, Little Mill Country Club||88|
|Terrence Sawyer, Mercer Oaks Golf Course||88|
|Richard Smith, Philadelphia Country Club||89|
|Thomas Mairone, Philadelphia Publinks GA||89|
|Thomas O’Rourke, Chester Valley Golf Club||90|
|James Barron, Hartefeld National||92|
|Jay Howson, Jr., St. Davids Golf Club||92|
|Richard Keesling, Kennett Square Golf & Country Club||92|
|Steve Kyriakodis, Commonwealth National Golf Club||WD|
|William Lawler, Fox Hill Country Club||WD|