VILLANOVA, Pa. – He was somewhat hesitant at first, but it appears Saucon Valley Country Club’s Robin McCool made the right choice when he deemed 2016 his first Super-Senior season. His trophy shelf says so, at least. | Final scorecard | Match-Play Bracket | History | Super-Senior POY standings | Beck wins Senior title |
On a wet, steamy day at Overbrook Golf Club (par 70, 5,758 yards), McCool’s steady game steered him to his first Super-Senior title – and third overall – in the Brewer Cup presented by Callaway Golf. He defeated Whitemarsh Valley Country Club’s Frank Polizzi, the reigning Super-Senior winner of the GAP Senior Amateur, 2&1.
“You could argue against it. I’ve won two of the past three [Pennsylvania State] Senior Amateur titles, and sometimes you think that you should try for another one,” said McCool, a two-time William Hyndman, III Player of the Year. “But look – I’m 65. I might as well play with people my own age. I’m going to play in the Super-Senior Division from here on out. And by the way, there is plenty of competition at this level. It’s very stiff competition, it’s no cake walk.”
The Brewer Cup, a three-day Senior Major event, proves just that. After winning a share of co-medalist honors in Monday’s stroke-play qualifying, McCool had his sights set on the top prize.
In Wednesday’s morning portion, McCool disposed of his opponent, Lookaway Golf Club’s Michael Anton, with a solid 5&3 victory. After taking the first two holes of the match, he never looked back, hitting fairways and finding the bottom of cups in regulation for the better part of the semifinals. McCool never trailed in the match.
“I played real solid this morning. I was hitting fairways and greens pretty consistently, and I was able to get ahead early. That’s always important in match play,” said McCool, 65, of Bethlehem, Pa.
His Final opponent Polizzi also had a strong semifinal showing against his good friend and better-ball teammate, Lancaster Country Club’s Dan Burton — a former Association President who served from 2006-08. Polizzi, much like McCool, took care of business early and often. He won Nos. 2-4 to grab a 3-up lead against Burton. Polizzi’s advantage never fell below 2-up during the match.
“He got off to a fairly weak start. For the most part in that match, I was 3-up. It was pretty steady,” said Polizzi.
Consistent precipitation was the unfortunate setting for the Final match. After a short morning delay of play, the grounds became soft and forgiving. McCool played the conditions to his advantage, finding fairways with ease and hitting approach shots with precision. On the par-3, 172-yard No. 3, he bettered Polizzi’s bogey with a two-putt par. Another Polizzi bogey mistake cost him again on No. 6 (par 4, 385 yards). McCool’s play led to another smooth par, giving him a 2-up advantage.
“I hit it into the left bunker and then hit a very good bunker shot to four feet. It did a complete 360, so now I’m 2-down,” said Polizzi, 70, of Plymouth Meeting, Pa. “It’s just one of those that you can’t believe it can go down that far and not go in.”
Good drives for both players came on No. 8 (par 4, 395 yards), along with good second shots that ended up near the front of the green. Polizzi pushed his chip shot 20 feet past the hole while McCool played it beautifully to inches. His lead grew to 3-up.
Play was halted at 2:24 p.m. for nearly an hour and a half due to lightning strikes in the area. When the green light to resume was given, McCool began to play “as if I was asleep out there”.
“Both of us didn’t think we needed to warm up. I wasn’t stiff, so I didn’t think I needed it,” said McCool. “But when I went out there and hit that next shot, I said, ‘Who is this?’ That made a difference in our match.”
That shot ended up being McCool’s worst of the day.
“There was no reason for me to make 6 there. I was 117 yards from the green and all I had to do was hit the ball in the middle of the green and two putt to win the hole,” said McCool.
He went on to lose the next two holes in troubling fashion. On No. 13 (par 4, 363 yards), McCool clipped a tree with his approach shot from the right rough. His ball bounced in a water hazard in front of the green, eventually leading McCool to concede Polizzi’s par. A three-putt bogey on No. 14 (par 4, 290 yards) cost him another. McCool’s once-demanding 3-up lead sat at just one heading to the finishing stretch.
Polizzi had a great chance to get the match back to All Square on No. 15 (par 3, 164 yards) but failed to convert.
“I bombed it up there but hit it short, then I hit a good chip [to four feet]. That putt bothered me as much as any putt today,” said Polizzi. “I hit that exactly where I wanted to hit it. I was sure it was in. Then it just hit the top edge of the hole. It didn’t turn. That one stung.”
Not only did it sting for Polizzi, but it helped McCool focus in, now fully warmed up after the delay.
Both players took 3-woods off the tee on No. 17 (par 4, 336 yards). McCool hit first, placing a wedge within three feet to the right of the cup. Polizzi followed that up putting his approach to eight feet. He went on to miss that birdie attempt, setting the stage for McCool’s winning putt.
“I had the line, but then you have to [convert]. I had to be careful with it, but it broke at least a ball. I started it out a ball to the right and it ended right in the middle of the cup,” said McCool.
Despite the defeat, all was not lost for Polizzi. He has become a mainstay on Super-Senior leaderboards, and his Brewer Cup appearance this week only further proved that.
“I play these tournaments now to win. I’m a little disappointed, but I’m proud of the fact that I think I competed very well all week. It’s a good tournament with some great champions,” he said. “I love to compete. I love to play with my buddies, but what I really love is just grinding it out in matches. Did I want to win? Of course. Robin is no slouch and he won it with a great birdie.”
McCool’s inaugural Super-Senior campaign has started with a bang. His first start in the Division came in the Warner Cup at Whitford Country Club back. McCool’s three-over-round of 75 that day earned him the hardware. His winning score was matched by none other than Mr. O. Gordon Brewer, Jr. himself, but Brewer was unavailable for a playoff after leaving the course to catch a flight to Florida.
The veteran of 15 USGA Championships has an extensive Golf Association of Philadelphia playing resume that includes two Silver Crosses (1990-91), a Senior Amateur Championship in 2006 and three Tournament of Champions wins (2006-07, 2012). McCool, a former member of the Executive Committee from 2004-2012, McCool helped to establish the Brewer Cup as a Senior tournament in 2008. He says he will play in the event until he can no longer compete.
“It’s just a great event to honor Brewer. I’m always going to play in this event. Always, out of respect for him,” said McCool. “Not to mention it’s a [GAP] Major event. That just shows how great this Association is, to hold this event and honor someone like that with it.”
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.
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.
2. Robin McCool, Saucon Valley CC, d. 4. Frank Polizzi, Whitemarsh Valley CC, 2&1.
4. Frank Polizzi, Whitemarsh Valley CC, d. 8. Dan Burton, Lancaster Country Club, 3&2.
2. Robin McCool, Saucon Valley CC, d. 3. Michael Anton, Lookaway Golf Club, 5&3.
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