VILLANOVA, Pa. — Up until two years ago, Frank Polizzi wasn’t sure he would ever find the winning golf formula. Now, it seems as if he has written his own equation for finding competitive success.| History | Match-play bracket | Seniors: Day Two Recap | Photo Gallery: Day Two | Day Two Notebook |
The reigning Senior Amateur Championship Super-Senior victor’s new-found confidence was on display yet again Tuesday in the quarterfinals of the Brewer Cup presented by Callaway Golf at Overbrook Golf Club (par 70, 5,758 yards). Whitemarsh Valley Country Club’s Polizzi, the No. 4 seed, knocked off White Manor Country Club’s Don Donatoni, the No. 5 seed, 1-up to advance to Wednesday’s semifinal round. Polizzi’s win over Donatoni ended the Super-Senior Player of the Year’s dominance in the event, which included three-straight Brewer Cup titles.
“It’s weird to think about. I’ve definitely worked at it, but these past few years I’ve just started winning tournaments,” said Polizzi, 70, of Plymouth Meeting, Pa. “I think a lot of it is mindset. I’ve been close, a lot, in the past. It’s just like you always hear – it took me awhile to get over the hump. That helped me today — it felt good to get a good result today.”
When all was said and done, Polizzi defeated Donatoni with pure aggressiveness. Three of his approach shots on the day found resting places within a few feet – or inches – of the golf ball’s home.
“It was amazing. It was a great golf match,” said Polizzi, whose Super-Senior Amateur win came last September at The Union League Golf Club at Torresdale. “Beating Don Donatoni is pretty unreal because you always know you’re going to get his best. We were a bit disappointed that we drew each other this early in the tournament. I did tell him, though, that I was happy facing him before I was tired out before all of these matches. He’s just such a good competitor.”
Heading to Overbrook’s back nine, Polizzi was clinging on to a 1-up lead. That advantage was quickly erased with a Polizzi bogey on No. 10 (par 3, 180 yards).
No. 13 (par 4, 253 yards) became the turning point of the match. Polizzi’s tee shot found the end of the fairway, where he was left with just 47 yards to the flagstick. His wedge approach bounced on the green and into the hole for a deuce, giving Polizzi a 1-up lead once again.
“We were even when I made that eagle. [Donatoni] had hit it to five feet right before that, so that was a big moment for me,” said Polizzi, who also took the 76th George Dressler Memorial Championship (administered by the Pennsylvania Golf Associaiton) Super-Senior title at Carlisle Country Club on April 26.
A three-putt bogey relinquished his lead on No. 16 (par 4, 379 yards), but a phenomenal pitching wedge by Polizzi, which landed within inches, on No. 17 (par 4, 336 yards) ended up being the difference in the match.
Waiting in the semifinal round is Lancaster Country Club’s Dan Burton – Polizzi’s good friend and teammate, who also happens to be a former GAP President.
“We’re definitely good friends. We were actually paired together for the [Pennsylvania] State Senior Better-Ball, so we know each other’s games real well. In fact, we played with each other in qualifying yesterday,” said Polizzi.
The eighth-seeded Burton, who served as the Association’s President from 2006-08, upset top-seeded Jay Ward of Cedarbrook Country Club, 4&3, to move on to the last day of competition.
It was a dominating performance from Burton. After the front nine, the 67-year-old held a 6-up advantage over Ward.
“I ended up making a lot of pars, and hit a lot of fairways and greens,” he said.
Burton was near flawless throughout the match, but two falters down the stretch gave him a brief scare. Ward was able to take both Nos. 13 (par 4, 253 yards) and 14 (par 4, 287 yards) thanks to a Burton bogey followed by an impressive jarred birdie. Nonetheless, the match ultimately ended when Ward failed to get up-and-down on the par-3, 163-yard 15th.
For Burton, he will look to get redemption after falling in a thriller during last year’s semifinal round to Saucon Valley Country Club’s Joe Marucci, 1-down. Getting his hands on the Brewer Cup trophy is something he has always dreamed about.
“To win this would be really, really big for me, even though it’s the Super Senior. This would be very important to me because of [O. Gordon Brewer, Jr.], because of what he’s meant to Philadelphia golf, what he’s meant to me and the way he acts and conducts himself and competes,” said Burton, 67, of Lititz, Pa. “I’m very good friends with Gordon – he is a role model to me. To have Gordon’s trophy in my hands would be huge.”
Like his friendly opposition, Polizzi shares similar thoughts on Brewer’s legendary name and influence on the region’s golfing landscape.
“What can you say about his playing record and his commitment to the game of golf? It’s just amazing,” said Polizzi. “He still plays such good golf, too. He’s an inspiration to everybody. He’s the type of role model you should want and that we have. It’s a great thing that GAP has this tournament in his name so we will always remember that.”
The Brewer Cup, launched in 2008, is named in honor of O. Gordon Brewer Jr., a veteran of 42 USGA Championships and two-time U.S. Senior Amateur Champion (1994, 1996). He also won Golf Association of Philadelphia Amateur titles in 1967 and 1976 as well as the 1997 Senior Amateur Championship, which earned Brewer Player of the Year honors that year. He was inducted into the Golf Association of Philadelphia’s Hall of Fame in 2011.
The Brewer Cup is open to Senior players with a handicap index of 7.0 or less and Super Seniors with an index of 12.0 or less.
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.
8. Dan Burton, Lancaster Country Club, d. 1. Jay Ward, Lookaway Golf Club, 4&3.
4. Frank Polizzi, Whitemarsh Valley Country Club, d. 5. Don Donatoni, White Manor Country Club, 1-up.
2. Robin McCool, Saucon Valley Country Club, d. 7. John Owens, Tavistock Country Club, 7&5.
3. Michael Anton, Lookaway Golf Club, d. 6. John Rowe, Whitemarsh Valley Country Club, 4&3.
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