Borsello battles back; defeats Billings in playoff
WALLINGFORD, Pa.–It’s been a long, arduous journey back to the top of Philadelphia golf for Tom Borsello.
A 2012 motorbike accident while competing in a Delaware endurance race found him waking up in the hospital. His broken back fused, and still to this day, supported by metal rods and screws.
“It was a rocky, wooded area with a lot of tree stumps. I wasn’t going very fast. But the terrain was very rough and I must have lost balance and throttled up and the bike shot out and I landed on a rock or a root. The next thing I know I was in emergency surgery,” said Borsello, 67, of Newark, Del. “I haven’t competed a lot because I couldn’t work on my game like I need to be on top of my game. My body doesn’t hold up very well anymore. God has blessed me. There was a time I was afraid I would be in a wheelchair the rest of my life.”
In Monday’s Warner Cup (Gross) at The Springhaven Club (par 70, 6,046 yards), Borsello proved his game, and body, to an extent, is back. The Wyncote Golf Club member defeated Bob Billings of Rolling Green Golf Club with a bogey on the first playoff hole, No 1 (par 4, 400 yards) for the Super-Senior Division title. Billings made a double bogey.
It was Borsello’s first GAP victory since taking the Warner Cup (Gross) Senior Division title in 2011.
“It means everything to win in Philadelphia. The fields are so strong and so deep, there are probably 30 or 40 guys who could win a golf tournament,” said a humbled Borsello. “This is a big one.”
Both Billings and Borsello were part of the morning wave of players. Both carded 1-over-par 71s and were done by early afternoon. And both had to sweat out a slew of leaderboard contenders before finding part of the playoff. Four players tied for second at 72, including 2020 Warner winner Chuck Dowds, III of Applebrook Golf Club.
In the playoff, that long wait between completing their rounds and teeing it up again showed. Billings missed the fairway and came up short with his 198-yard, 3-hybrid approach from a gnarly, wet lie in the right rough. It rained, on and off, between the two waves. Borsello found the fairway but missed the green short, right from 197 yards. Billings gouged his third out but was left with 90 feet. He eventually three putted. Borsello’s third shot, a flop, came out soft. His 30-foot par try ran by eight feet. His next found the bottom of the jar. A scrambling 5 for Borsello was enough. It was also a microcosm of his 18 holes. He found only three of 13 fairways. It was an example of Borsello’s mindset – finish strong.
Borsello watched a two-shot lead midway through his round turn into a one-stroke deficit. True to his mantra, he finished. He finished No. 17 (par 4, 350 yards) with a par after finding the tree line left of the fairway. He punched a low 7-iron from 148 yards to just short of the green (three yards off the front) and almost chipped in for birdie with a wedge. On No. 18 (par 4, 360 yards), Borsello finished one better. His gap wedge from 113 yards stopped in the fringe some 18 feet from the cup. His ensuing putt finished in the bottom of the jar.
“The one thing you have to learn in golf is to finish the round,” said Borsello. “I wasn’t striking the ball well but I’ve been putting well and my short game solid, and I leaned on that today. I hit a lot of shots in practice that you don’t really want, the low hooks and low fades. That’s part of the game.”
Billings, 70, of Media, Pa., was also in search of a second GAP Senior Major title. He won the rain-shorted 2017 Senior Amateur Championship at Lehigh Country Club. Billings’ 71 was one shot off his age. He shot his age in the Lehigh win.
“Shooting your age in competitive golf is a big deal. The first time I did that was at Lehigh. That was the first time I ever shot my age (68),” he said.
Billings did have a chance to win in regulation but saw his 12-foot birdie attempt on No. 18 slide past the top side.
Borsello found success in Delaware State Golf Association events in 2020, including taking its Senior Player of the Year. Let’s call that a sign of things to come.
“I went five years where I played hardly any events at all. Once you reach a certain level, the expectations are one thing and how you perform is another. It’s hard to accept going out and shooting 85s,” said Borsello. “[Winning the Warner Cup] is a resurgence again for me. I feel Iike I can play again and compete.”
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 300 Member Clubs and 80,000 individual members are spread across the Eastern half of Pennsylvania and parts of Delaware, Maryland and New Jersey. The GAP’s mission is to promote, preserve and protect the game of golf.
|*Tom Borsello, Wyncote Golf Club||71|
|Bob Billings, Rolling Green Golf Club||71|
|Gary Daniels, Applebrook Golf Club||72|
|Chuck Dowds, Applebrook Golf Club||72|
|Robin McCool, Saucon Valley Country Club||72|
|Jimmy Muller, Manufacturers’ Golf & Country Club||72|
|Don Donatoni, White Manor Country Club||73|
|Jon Mabry, Moorestown Field Club||73|
|Jim Prendergast, Philadelphia Publinks Golf Association||74|
|Mike Farlling, Carlisle Country Club||75|
|Craig Scott, Great Bear Golf Club||75|
|Steve Meyer, Rolling Green Golf Club||76|
|Mike Moser, Kennett Square Golf & Country Club||76|
|Brian Rothaus, Philmont Country Club||76|
|Scott Carney, Commonwealth National Golf Club||77|
|Chuck Tait, LedgeRock Golf Club||77|
|Rich Thon, The Springhaven Club||77|
|Rick Umani, Honeybrook Golf Club||77|
|Buck Jones, Philadelphia Publinks Golf Association||78|
|Stephen Lyons, Applecross Country Club||78|
|Mike Owsik, Hershey’s Mill Golf Club||78|
|Gordon Brewer, Pine Valley Golf Club||79|
|Robert Dietrich, Loch Nairn Golf Club||79|
|Carl Everett, Merion Golf Club||79|
|Matt Froncek, Honesdale Golf Club||79|
|David Jacobson, Medford Village Country Club||79|
|John Vergari, Tavistock Country Club||80|
|Tom Bartolacci, LuLu Country Club||81|
|Rich Colaguori, Moselem Springs Golf Club||81|
|Joe Cordaro, Saucon Valley Country Club||81|
|Tom Humphrey, Wilmington Country Club||81|
|Bob Majczan, Lookaway Golf Club||81|
|Michael Nilon, Philadelphia Country Club||81|
|Drew Panebianco, Five Ponds Golf Club||81|
|Larry Seltzer, Commonwealth National Golf Club||81|
|Matthew Smith, Regents’ Glen Country Club||81|
|Matthew Bellis, Commonwealth National Golf Club||82|
|Michael Rose, Talamore Country Club||82|
|Vince Scarpetta, Jr., Nittany Country Club||82|
|Elliot Sheftel, Lehigh Country Club||82|
|Art Kania, Merion Golf Club||WD|
|Dennis Lankford, Country Club of York||WD|
|Raymond Pawulich, Little Mill Country Club||WD|
|Frank Treml, Skippack Golf Club||WD|
|*- won in playoff|