Aug 09, 2013

Stars from three states shine in USGA Senior Amateur Qualifier

MOHNTON, Pa. — Three states were well-represented in a USGA Senior Amateur Championship Qualifier administered by the Golf Association of Philadelphia at LedgeRock Golf Club (par 72, 6,664 yards). Jay Blumenfeld of Parsippany, N.J., John Long of Centreville, Va. and Ray Thompson of Drexel Hill, Pa. all carded 1-under-par 71s to share medalist honors.

  White Manor Country Club’s Don Donatoni earned the final qualifying position with an even-par-72. The USGA Senior Amateur Championship will be held Sept. 21-26 at Wade Hampton Golf Club in Cashiers, N.C.

  Blumenfeld, Long and Thompson each have experience in the Championship proper. Blumenfeld qualified for match play in 2009 and 2012. In 2008 at Shady Oaks Country Club, Long fell to eventual champion Buddy Marucci in the second round. And Thompson advanced into match play in 2010 and 2011.

   “It’s nice to go back again,” Thompson said. “I want to go down and win the thing, to be honest with you. I’m running out of time.”

  Thompson, a Golf Association of Philadelphia stalwart, netted 15 greens in regulation. The Overbrook Golf Club member reverted to a putting grip that he hadn’t used since winning the Association’s Amateur Championship in 1972.

   “I figured I didn’t have anything to lose,” Thompson, 61, said. “My speed was off on a couple of shorter ones. I left them right on the lip, and I can’t believe they didn’t fall in. But they were online, so I’m doing something right. Everything’s getting started on the line I want.”

  A bogey-free outward tour put Thompson’s name atop the leaderboard. He stopped an 8-iron at 25 feet and sunk a right-to-left breaker for birdie. Thompson hit a sand wedge 81 yards to eight feet above a front hole location on No. 6 (par 4, 372 yards) and cleaned up the birdie putt. On the par 5, 532-yard No. 8, he knocked a wedge 64 yards to 25 feet. Thompson moved to 4 under with a birdie on No. 14 (par 3, 172 yards), leaving a choked-down 6-iron 20 feet below the flagstick.

  With a bit of a cushion over his fellow contenders, Thompson bogeyed his next three holes to finish as co-medalist. A three-putt on No. 15 (par 4, 450 yards), a poor wedge on No. 16 (par 4, 345 yards) and a heavy 5-iron on No. 17 (par 4, 410 yards) tampered with his red firestorm.

   “I thought if I could get through No. 15, then I knew I was in,” Thompson said. “I was trying to get to the 17th tee at 4 under. I didn’t quite get there.”

  Thompson swept the GAP Senior Division in 2007, claiming all three of its Majors en route to Player of the Year honors that year. He won the 2011 Senior Amateur Championship. Thompson also competed in the 1977 and 1978 U.S. Open.

   A chip-in birdie on the demanding 17th hole sealed Long’s qualifying status. He missed the green left with a 3-hybrid, but addressed a reasonable lie with a swift gap wedge.

   “I kind of got lucky,” Long, 61, said. “It was moving a little bit. It would have been four or five feet past if it hadn’t gone in.”

  Long, an Evergreen Country Club member, also birdied LedgeRock’s back nine par 3s. He stopped a 6-iron at six feet on No. 10 (170 yards) and at 10 feet on No. 14 (172 yards). Long finished as co-runner-up in the Virginia State Golf Association’s Senior Stroke Play Championship earlier this year.

  A visit to his son in Denver, Colo. prevented Long from attempting to qualify locally for the USGA Senior Amateur. He chose a trip to Pennsylvania over a trip to Hot Springs.

   “I heard great things about this golf course, and it is certainly a great course,” Long said. “This [the USGA Senior Amateur] is the highlight of the year. It’s what you shoot for all year.”

  Playing in the day’s final group, Blumenfeld, a Mountain Ridge Country Club member, carded a 3 on the 16th hole (par 4, 345 yards) to finish in red figures. He drilled a 9-iron 120 yards to four feet.

   “That made me feel good,” Blumenfeld, a two-time New Jersey State Golf Association Player of the Year, said. “I knew that 71 or 72 could get in, so I figured maybe I could make a bogey coming in.”

  Blumenfeld also inked red on Nos. 7 (par 5, 566 yards) and 9 (par 4, 372 yards) thanks to 5-iron set-ups. He hit to four feet on the first, 20 on the latter. After nearly driving the green on the tempting No. 12 (par 4, 262 yards), he lifted a wedge out of a swale to six feet for birdie as well.

   “The irons were pretty good today. I made a few good putts, and I was able to avoid really high numbers,” Blumenfeld, who competed in the R&A Seniors Open Amateur Championship last week, said.

  Donatoni’s hot streak continued Monday. The current GAP Super-Senior Player of the Year leader carded three birdies against three bogeys to advance into his second consecutive USGA Senior Amateur.

   “I’ve had a lot of confidence. I’m continuing to play well,” Donatoni, 65, of Malvern, Pa., said. “My short game is solid right now, and my putting is pretty decent. To have those things going for you certainly makes up for a lot of mistakes.”

  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 143 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.

Name, city Scores
Jay Blumenfeld, Parsippany, N.J. 71
John Long, Centreville, Va. 71
Ray Thompson, Drexel Hill, Pa. 71
Don Donatoni, Malvern, Pa. 72
Alternates (in order)
*Greg Osborne, Lititz, Pa. 73
Greg Killian, Ellicott City, Md. 73
Failed to qualify
Edward Knoll, Etters, Pa. 74
Joe Viechnicki, Bethlehem, Pa. 74
James Prendergast, Limerick, Pa.  74
Ed Chylinski, West Chester, Pa. 74
Michael Anderson, Horsham, Pa. 75
James Macallister, Ft. Washington, Pa. 75
Gary Daniels, Berwyn, Pa. 76
Michael Vassil, Dalton, Pa. 76
Weir King, Stuart, Fla. 76
Steve Walczak, Greenville, Del. 76
Henry Jay Guerin, Fremont, Calif. 76
Edward Mesko, Stroudsburg, Pa. 77
Gustav Vik, Princeton, N.J. 77
Drew Panebianco, Gwynedd Valley, Pa.  77
Roc Irey, Furlong, Pa. 77
Robert Wagner, St Davids, Pa.  77
Jim Mastromatteo, Lancaster, Pa. 77
Marlin Detweiler, Akron, Pa.  78
Bill Turner, Mt. Holly, N.J. 78
Scott Orr, Birdsboro, Pa. 78
Tom Hyland, Marlton, N.J. 78
Carl Everett, Havertown, Pa. 78
Charles Jones, Collegeville, Pa. 78
Mark Ellinger, Chester Springs, Pa. 79
Jim Gavaghan, Newtown, Pa. 79
Fred Stern, Murrysville, Pa. 79
Thomas Humphrey, Chadds Ford, Pa. 80
Jack Hubbert, Brigantine, N.J. 80
Donald Ashley, Newtown Square, Pa. 80
Harold Schweitzer, West Chester, Pa. 80
Scott Carney, Hatboro, Pa. 80
Michael Quinn, East Fallowfield, Pa. 81
Pierce Herbst, Egg Harbor Township, N.J. 81
Joseph Russo, Sewell, N.J. 81
Arthur Kania, Haverford, Pa. 81
Mike Owsik, Bryn Mawr, Pa. 82
Mark Leaman, Lancaster, Pa. 82
Thomas Borsello, Wilmington, Del. 82
Robin McCool, Bethlehem, Pa. 83
Michael Rose, Huntingdon Valley, Pa. 83
Gordon Jamieson, Collegeville, Pa. 83
Thomas Sjoblom, Blue Bell, Pa. 83
Frank Polizzi, Plymouth Meeting, Pa. 83
Douglas Goepfert, Hershey, Pa. 83
Jeffrey Allen, Wyoming, Del. 84
John Vergari, Haddonfield, N.J. 84
Robert Dietrich, Oxford, Pa. 84
David Brookreson, Huntingdon Valley, Pa. 84
Mark Quigley, Ft  Washington, Pa. 85
George Henninger, New Hope, Pa. 86
Andrew Tompos, Lititz, Pa. 86
Jim Willoughby, Pottstown, Pa. 86
Robert Falls, West Chester, Pa. 88
William Chase, Mechanicsburg, Pa. 88
William Larsen, West Chester, Pa. 90
Michael Rowland, Allentown, Pa. 90
Brian Nelson, Abington, Pa. WD
Thomas Bartolacci, Washington Crossing, Pa. WD
Robert Ilowite, Branchburg, N.J. NC
Bob Majczan, Furlong, Pa. WD
WD – withdrawal; NC – no card
* – determined in playoff

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