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Warner Cup (Gross): Lu Lu’s Smeraglio snags first Senior title

 EXTON, Pa. — A Senior Division rookie in 2015, Glenn Smeraglio made his presence felt immediately. He finished second in the Player of the Year standings and qualified for a pair of national championships (U.S. Senior Amateur and U.S. Mid-Amateur) along the way. The laundry list of accomplishments, however, didn’t include a victory. | History | Scorecards | Photo gallery | Senior POY standings |
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  Smeraglio changed that streak Thursday. The Lu Lu Country Club member carded an even-par 72 to win the Senior title in the 82nd Francis B. Warner Cup (Gross) at Whitford Country Club (par 72, 6,568 yards). Home-club hopeful Mark Ellinger posted a 1-over-par 73 in the morning to earn runner-up honors.

  “This is the first win of many, hopefully,” Smeraglio, 56, of Newtown, Pa., said. “It’s good to get a W. I kind of wanted to win a couple of things last year. I’m focused on winning this year. Hopefully I can keep it up.”

  Chilly temperatures, thick rough and challenging greens dictated strategy for most Thursday. Smeraglio adjusted to the conditions accordingly with a score 11 strokes above the field average.

  “Pars were your friend today,” he said. “Chipping out here is really hard. Large blades of grass really slowed your club down around the green. You needed to make an aggressive stroke for your chip shots. I’ve been playing well. I thought if I could shoot par or better, which isn’t a stretch right now.”

  Smeraglio indeed embraced pars. He points to a pair of saves that ultimately sustained his round. On No. 2 (par 3, 189 yards), he launched a 5-iron into a delicate lie a foot off the green. He nudged a wedge to 12 feet and converted a right-to-left breaker. The par 4, 397-yard 15th hole put Smeraglio in a similar predicament. Standing 145 yards from the flagstick, he thought “pull” because of habit and instead pushed his golf ball right. Short-sided and short on error with Ellinger in the house, he flopped a wedge to 12 feet for a critical par. The conversion allowed Smeraglio to maintain a one-stroke edge over playing partner Oscar Mestre of Overbrook Golf Club at the time.

  “I was trying to punch a little 7-iron because the wind was right in our face,” Smeraglio said of the approach. “I wanted to make sure I didn’t come up short because it looked like one of those big humps was short. I wanted to get in between a little bit. The lie got me. The fairways are very thin. You could easily blade it. Fortunately, I didn’t do much of that.”

  Thought-provoking lies served as a theme throughout Smeraglio’s round, which included two birdies against two bogeys. On the downhill, dogleg right No. 9 (par 5, 540 yards), he took the water hazard out of play by drilling a 5-iron 190 yards to the back of the green. A chip out of a “decent” lie stopped three feet from the cup. Smeraglio knocked a 9-iron 135 yards to five feet for a birdie on the next hole (par 4, 364 yards).

  “You really had to control your iron shots today. The air was so heavy that you had to be smart about shots into the green,” Smeraglio, a two-time Patterson Cup champion (1998, 2008), said.

  Difficult greenside lies on Nos. 8 (par 4, 386 yards) and 14 (par 4, 362 yards) thwarted Smeraglio’s par progress. On the first, he slung a 7-iron left of the green and bumped the ensuing chip to 12 feet. Smeraglio missed the par putt. After missing the No. 14 fairway by six inches, Smeraglio hit a presumably safe 54-degree wedge from 115 yards and watched it crash onto the green sans spin. He chipped to six feet and misread the par putt, deeming right rather than left.

  Smeraglio joined Lu Lu over the winter. The new surroundings prepared the 2011 Middle-Amateur Champion for Whitford.

  “You need to stay below the hole on a Donald Ross golf course all of the time. If it’s pin high or above, you can’t two-putt,” Smeraglio said. “A lot of that was like here today. Not that the greens were super-fast, but it did help to stay below the hole.”

  Ellinger, who works for Hewlett Packard Enterprise, also qualified for the U.S. Senior Amateur in 2015. He failed to make the match play cut.

  “That was exciting. I had my son caddie for me. It was just a thrill,” Ellinger, 58, of Chester Springs, Pa., said. “When I got to Hidden Creek, I laid an egg and played pretty bad. I honestly didn’t feel that nervous the first round out there but I had to have been. Today I just wanted to candidly come out and not have one of those bad rounds again. It was rewarding to be able to get a decent round in.”

  Ellinger is nearly two years removed from back surgery. He took seven Advil during his U.S. Senior Amateur qualifying attempt at White Manor Country Club. He only needed two Thursday.

  “This year it’s starting to feel where it’s manageable. That helps me get out a little more,” Ellinger said. “I’m having fun. My back’s still not perfect, but it’s a heck of a lot better. I have nothing to complain about now. This spring is the best I’ve felt.”

  Francis B. Warner of Philadelphia Cricket Club served as secretary-treasurer for the Golf Association of Philadelphia 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.

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 153 Full Member Clubs and 57,000 individual members are spread across parts of Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Delaware. 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.

Glenn Smeraglio, Lu Lu Country Club 72
Mark Ellinger, Whitford Country Club 73
Chip Lutz, LedgeRock Golf Club 74
David West, Applecross Country Club 75
Jim Yenser, Raven’s Claw Golf Club 75
Oscar Mestre, Overbrook Golf Club 75
Robert Amen, Philadelphia Publinks GA 75
Doug Fedoryshyn, Concord Country Club 76
Thomas Hyland, Little Mill Country Club 76
Tom DiCinti, Old York CC at Chesterfield 76
Byron Whitman, Philadelphia Publinks GA 77
Chris Smedley, Hartefeld National 77
Christopher Clauson, Lu Lu Country Club 77
Craig Kliewer, Honeybrook Golf Club 77
Robert Wurtz, Jr., Philadelphia Cricket Club 77
Thomas Soares, Lehigh Country Club 77
Barry Westington, Country Club of Scranton 78
Joseph Russo, Laurel Creek Country Club 78
Brian Rothaus, Five Ponds Golf Club 78
Gordon Jamieson, Merion Golf Club 78
Robert Van Etten, Laurel Creek Country Club 78
Brian Corbett, Huntsville Golf Club 79
Norman Charlesworth, Running Deer Golf Club 79
Ed Chylinski, Chester Valley Golf Club 79
Bob Beck, Lehigh Country Club 80
Gregory Buliga, Yardley Country Club 80
Jim Gavaghan, Jericho National Golf Club 80
John Alterman, Commonwealth National Golf Club 80
Ron Weaver, Bent Creek Country Club 80
Michael Quinn, Philadelphia Publinks GA 80
Raymond Thompson, Overbrook Golf Club
Buddy Reed, Wild Quail Golf & Country Club 81
Gary Smith, Pine Valley Golf Club 81
Jim Simmons, Stonewall 81
Kenneth Phillips, Lancaster Country Club 81
Marlin Detweiler, Lancaster Country Club 81
Michael Vassil, Country Club of Scranton 81
Richard Umani, Honeybrook Golf Club 81
Steve Meyer, Rolling Green Golf Club 81
Tom Borsello, Hartefeld National 81
Joseph Lewis, Aronimink Golf Club 82
Patrick O’Brien, North Hills Country Club 82
Paul Dansbury, Yardley Country Club 82
Steven Lucas, White Manor Country Club 82
James Prendergast, Bellewood Country Club 82
Thomas Bartolacci, Jr., Saucon Valley Country Club 82
Bob Walsh, Philadelphia Publinks GA 83
John Robinson, Lu Lu Country Club 83
Thomas Mensel, Jericho National Golf Club 83
Gary Daniels, Applebrook Golf Club 83
Michael Brady, Jericho National Golf Club
Pete Widdoes, White Clay Creek Country Club 83
Rich Thon, The Springhaven Club 83
Roc Irey, Lookaway Golf Club 83
Joseph Roeder, Little Mill Country Club 84
Thomas Finn, Loch Nairn Golf Club 84
Tim Sindorf, Laurel Creek Country Club 84
Drew Panebianco, Five Ponds Golf Club 84
James Muller, Manufacturers Golf & Country Club 84
John Gonsior, Limekiln Golf Club 84
Robert Wagner, Merion Golf Club 84
Thomas Humphrey, Wilmington Country Club 84
Alan Wagenschnur, Wild Quail Golf & Country Club 85
Cameron Campbell, McCall Golf & Country Club 85
Christopher Terebesi, Honeybrook Golf Club 85
David Richards, Bent Creek Country Club 85
James Robertson, Llanerch Country Club 85
Jim Dalzell, Linwood Country Club 85
John Kappes, Blue Heron Pines Golf Club 85
John Nottage, Commonwealth National Golf Club 85
Bob Majczan, Lookaway Golf Club 85
Pierce Herbst, Sea Oaks Golf Club 85
John Ward, Greate Bay Country Club 86
Joe Viechnicki, Saucon Valley Country Club 86
Laurence Hirsh, Philadelphia Cricket Club 86
Roy Gagne, Yardley Country Club 86
J. Kirk Luntey, Merion Golf Club 87
John Marshalek, Whitford Country Club 87
John Willadsen, Sakima Country Club 87
Richard Atcavage, Whitemarsh Valley Country Club 87
Scott McIntosh, Makefield Highlands Golf Club 87
James McGlynn, Aronimink Golf Club 87
Jeff Lysek, Five Ponds Golf Club 88
Gary Yeager, Philadelphia Cricket Club 88
Robert Dietrich, Loch Nairn Golf Club 88
Bob Enders, Running Deer Golf Club 89
Mark Leaman, Stone Harbor Golf Club 89
Mitchell Bergman, North Hills Country Club 89
Dan Farragut, Philadelphia Cricket Club 89
John Adiletto, Jr., Raven’s Claw Golf Club 89
Peter Mimmo, Philmont Country Club 89
Richard Young, Makefield Highlands Golf Club 90
Jim Macallister, Manufacturers Golf & Country Club 90
John Psillas, Moselem Springs Golf Club 91
Joe Culley, The Springhaven Club 91
Mark Quigley, Manufacturers Golf & Country Club 91
Tom Coffey, Sr., Chester Valley Golf Club 91
Robert Galbreath, Sr., Huntingdon Valley Country Club 92
Keith Smeraglio, Lu Lu Country Club 93
Phil Remig, Huntingdon Valley Country Club 93
Jon Stein, McCall Golf & Country Club 94
David Dorey, Tavistock Country Club 95
Francis Hamm, Country Club of Scranton 98
Paul Keating, Aronimink Golf Club DQ
Steven Walczak, Wilmington Country Club DQ
Arthur Kania, Jr., Merion Golf Club WD
Buck Jones, Philadelphia Publinks GA WD
Francis McFadden, Overbrook Golf Club WD
Brian Powell, Burlington Country Club WD
Frank Corrado, Jr., Jericho National Golf Club WD