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Warner (Gross): Lu Lu’s Smeraglio claims Senior crown in playoff

WEST CHESTER, Pa. — Lu Lu Country Club’s Glenn Smeraglio defeated Five Ponds Golf Club’s Brian Rothaus in a sudden-death playoff to capture the Senior crown in the 84th Francis B. Warner Cup (Gross) at Concord Country Club (par 71, 6,488 yards).

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  Playing in the same group during the afternoon wave, Smeraglio and Rothaus finished regulation tied atop the leaderboard alongside Running Deer Golf Club’s Joseph Russo at 1-over-par 72. Russo, who played in the morning, was unable to return for the playoff.

“It’s a good start to the year,” Smeraglio, 58, of Newtown, Pa., said. “I felt OK coming in. I think I started to hit it pretty good, but I wasn’t putting that well. I made a few early birdies here and got it under par.”

In overtime, Rothaus, with tee honors, seemed to seal his fate by tugging a drive into the water hazard on No. 1 (par 4, 378 yards), the first playoff hole. Smeraglio didn’t alter strategy and proceeded to rip a drive into the center of the fairway. A green in regulation and a two-putt is the combination he unlocked to secure his second Warner (Gross) trophy in the last three years (2016).

“I try to trust myself that I’m going to hit the shot that I’m trying to hit. I’m sure he trusted himself. It just didn’t work out for him this time,” Smeraglio, the reigning GAP Senior Amateur Champion, said.

Smeraglio and Rothaus traded blows throughout the afternoon, with both emerging as leaders at 2 under through four holes. A gap wedge from 80 yards set up birdies of 18-inches and 10 feet, respectively, on Nos. 2 (par 4, 307 yards) and 3 (par 4, 335 yards). Rothaus birdied No. 1 (par 4, 378 yards) after knocking a sand wedge 105 yards to 15 feet. He drained an improbable 70-footer from the front fringe on the next hole.

“Brian probably made 300 feet of putts today,” Smeraglio said. “He putted tremendously. I swear I thought he had 25 putts today. He was a couple under most of the day as well, so we were kind of battling it out. It was good fun.”

Smeraglio inched ahead thanks to a birdie on No. 7 (par 4, 425 yards), where he hit that trusty gap wedge 94 yards to five feet. The next hole (par 3, 157 yards) drastically switched the circumstances. Rothaus, showing a true kinship with Concord’s highway greens, rolled in a right-to-left breaking 40-footer for birdie to move to 3 under. Smeraglio, meanwhile, logged a rare four-putt for a 5.

“These greens are fast enough that you can do it,” Smeraglio said. “I hit an 8-iron that I thought was OK. The wind was supposed to be in my face. The ball ended up going all the way back to the left corner of the green. I had about 70 feet [for birdie] and ran it six feet by. I hit a great putt and lipped out. Hit another great putt and lipped out. So be it.”

Smeraglio, who registered 14 greens in regulation on the day, tied Rothaus at 2 under following a birdie on the par 4, 351-yard 10th hole. He bumped a wedge 40 yards to three feet. Smeraglio and Rothaus continued to exchange jabs throughout the back nine. On No. 14 (par 5, 565 yards), facing another favorable 80-yard approach, Smeraglio lifted a wedge to 30 feet and deposited the ensuing downhiller for birdie.

“I knew it was a super-fast putt,” he said. “You had to keep it under the hole if you could. It was hard to control your ball today because of the wind. It was 100 percent a factor on every shot. Downwind to the front pins was almost impossible. Into the wind with a short iron was tough. Everything seemed to be against each other.”

Smeraglio held a one-stroke advantage over Rothaus entering the par 5, 525-yard 18th hole. He watched a 15-footer from above a front-right hole location drift to the low side. Rothaus reached the green in two and two-putted from the back of the green to join Smeraglio and Russo atop the leaderboard.

“I was thinking that if I hit a rescue and it ends up 30 or 40 yards short in the fairway, then it would be an impossible third shot,” Rothaus, 62, of Huntingdon Valley, Pa., said. “So I thought, ‘Maybe if I hit 3-wood and hit it in the front bunker, maybe I can make a birdie. I knew I needed to make birdie.”   Smeraglio’s victory Thursday afforded the longtime GAP contender his fifth piece of Senior hardware. He is also the two-time reigning Senior Silver Cross Award winner.

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. 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 or state golf association in the United States. It serves as the principal ruling body of amateur golf in its region. The Association’s 200 Full Member Clubs and 70,000 individual members are spread across Eastern Pennsylvania and parts of 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.

Name, club Score
*Glenn Smeraglio, Lu Lu Country Club 72
Brian Rothaus, Five Ponds Golf Club 72
Joseph Russo, Running Deer Golf Club 72
Brian Corbett, Country Club of Scranton 73
Doug Fedoryshyn, Applebrook Golf Club 73
William McGuinness, Tavistock Country Club 73
Thomas Hyland, Little Mill Country Club 74
Raymond Thompson, Overbrook Golf Club 74
Charles Bernard, Aronimink Golf Club 75
Gary Daniels, Applebrook Golf Club 75
Greg Guyer, Philadelphia Cricket Club 75
John Nottage, Commonwealth National Golf Club 75
Carlos Ochoa, Little Mill Country Club 75
Richard Atcavage, Whitemarsh Valley Country Club 76
Kenneth Phillips, Lancaster Country Club 76
John Robinson, Lu Lu Country Club 76
Bob Taylor, Middletown Country Club 76
Robert Dietrich, Loch Nairn Golf Club 77
Scott Mayne, LedgeRock Golf Club 77
David West, Philadelphia Publinks GA 77
Michael Anderson, Philadelphia Cricket Club 78
Norman Charlesworth, Running Deer Golf Club 78
Charles Dowds, III, Applebrook Golf Club 78
Joseph Lewis, Aronimink Golf Club 78
Michael Moser, Kennett Square Golf & Country Club 78
Gary Smith, Pine Valley Golf Club 78
Michael Tash, Tavistock Country Club 78
Rich Thon, The Springhaven Club 78
Steven Walczak, Wilmington Country Club 78
Ron Weaver, Bent Creek Country Club 78
Joseph Weiscarger, Wyoming Valley Country Club 78
Bob Beck, Lehigh Country Club 79
Gregory Day, Old York Road Country Club 79
Steven Lucas, Wilmington Country Club 79
Rand Mendez, Fieldstone Golf Club 79
Drew Panebianco, Five Ponds Golf Club 79
Byron Whitman, Berkshire Country Club 79
Paul Berg, The Springhaven Club 80
John Gosselin, Kennett Square Golf & Country Club 80
Craig Kliewer, Honeybrook Golf Club 80
James Muller, Manufacturers’ Golf & Country Club 80
Mike Owsik, Cobbs Creek Golf Club 80
Jeff Poet, Country Club of York 80
Joseph Roeder, Little Mill Country Club 80
William Thornton, Jr., LedgeRock Golf Club 80
Michael Vassil, Country Club of Scranton 80
Jeffrey Allen, Wild Quail Golf & Country Club 81
Cameron Campbell, McCall Golf & Country Club 81
Elias Chua, Fieldstone Golf Club 81
Dan Dreisbach, Wilmington Country Club 81
Tim Sindorf, Laurel Creek Country Club 81
Pete Widdoes, White Clay Creek Country Club 81
Barry Cahill, Radley Run Country Club 82
Scott Carney, Commonwealth National Golf Club 82
Marlin Detweiler, Lancaster Country Club 82
Steve Dionisio, Jericho National Golf Club 82
Alan Lazzarino, DuPont Country Club 82
Oscar Mestre, Overbrook Golf Club 82
Jim Simmons, Stonewall 82
Thomas Soares, Lehigh Country Club 82
George Steinmetz, Spring Ford Country Club 82
Alan Wagenschnur, Loch Nairn Golf Club 82
Gregory Buliga, Yardley Country Club 83
Christopher Clauson, Lu Lu Country Club 83
Matt Mingione, The 1912 Club 83
Buddy Reed, Loch Nairn Golf Club 83
John Alterman, Commonwealth National Golf Club 84
Doug Cornforth, Loch Nairn Golf Club 84
Frank Corrado, Jr., Lu Lu Country Club 84
Robert Frankil, Bellewood Country Club 84
Jim Macallister, Manufacturers’ Golf & Country Club 84
Trey Watts, Jericho National Golf Club 84
Andrew Abrams, Rolling Green Golf Club 85
Bill Dwyer, Concord Country Club 85
Brian Fiala, Kennett Square Golf & Country Club 85
Thomas Finn, Loch Nairn Golf Club 85
Jim Gavaghan, Jericho National Golf Club 85
Bryan McClaskey, Merchantville Country Club 85
Patrick O’Brien, North Hills Country Club 85
Michael Quinn, Philadelphia Publinks GA 85
Michael Berger, Kennett Square Golf & Country Club 86
Patrick Cahill, III, Whitemarsh Valley Country Club 86
Mark Cubberley, Mercer Oaks Golf Course 86
Michael Fagan, Philadelphia Publinks GA 86
Andrew Fireman, Philadelphia Cricket Club 86
Ed Kahn, Little Mill Country Club 86
Elliot Sheftel, Lehigh Country Club 86
Michael Shoup, Sandy Run Country Club 86
Steve Meyer, Rolling Green Golf Club 87
Chris Smedley, Hartefeld National 87
George Connell, Jr., Gulph Mills Golf Club 89
John Donnelly, Concord Country Club 89
Jon Stein, McCall Golf & Country Club 91
Andrew Sterge, Applebrook Golf Club 92
Brian Trymbiski, Doylestown Country Club 92
Gary Shearman, Philadelphia Cricket Club 93
Jim Yenser, Raven’s Claw Golf Club DQ
Matt Brady, Kennett Square Golf & Country Club NC
J. Kirk Luntey, Merion Golf Club WD
Robert Wurtz, Jr., Philadelphia Cricket Club WD
*-won in playoff
DQ-disqualification; NC-no card; WD-withdrawal