Aronimink’s Mullen, Schroer capture 13th Deeg Sezna at Whitford
EXTON, Pa. — A strong showing in Aronimink Golf Club’s championship a year ago opened Douglas Schroer’s eyes to Ryan Mullen’s blossoming talents. It also prompted the former to invite the latter to join him in the Golf Association of Philadelphia’s Deeg Sezna at Whitford Country Club (par 72, 6,287 yards).
The invitation turned into a celebration Thursday. Schroer and Mullen carded a 4-under-par 68 to capture the tournament’s 13th edition. The format is selective drive/alternate shot.
“Communication was key,” Mullen, 19, of Wayne, Pa., said. “We decided from the beginning that I would tee off first, and whenever the doglegs would be safe, he would just go all out with the big dog driver. That’s was one of the strategies we had. I went first pretty much every shot, and he would trail behind me on the tee.”
“We settled into a routine where I stuffed it and he made it,” Schroer, 48, of Malvern, Pa., added. “Other than cleaning up, I only putted three times.”
Mullen fired five birdies on the day. The aforementioned routine surfaced immediately as Schroer hit a gap wedge 98 yards to 12 feet for a Mullen birdie on No. 1 (par 4, 358 yards). Mullen briefly stole Schroer’s wedge thunder on the par 4, 390-yard No. 3 by knocking one 110 yards to 15 feet. The roles reversed once again on No. 6 (par 4, 355 yards). Schroer stopped a wedge from 98 yards at two feet. The team acted against its’ red figure routine and elected to use Schroer’s drive on the difficult par 5, 487-yard No. 9. It worked as Mullen powered a 6-iron 165 yards to 20 feet below the flagstick. Schroer ran the eagle attempt seven feet by the jar, but Mullen, a sophomore at Cabrini College, converted the comebacker. Three-putts spearheaded by Schroer on Nos. 4 (par 5, 562 yards) and 8 (par 4, 386 yards) sparked the team’s only bogeys heading out.
The par 4, 335-10th hole highlighted Schroer’s crisp wedge play at Whitford. He nearly jarred one from 90 yards, leaving his teammate with a tap-in for 3. On No. 12 (par 5, 486 yards), Mullen launched a 7-iron from 175 yards onto a fairway upslope — some 10 yards from a front hole location. Schroer tried to bump an 8-iron close, but watched his golf ball screech 25 feet past the jar. Mullen, who occasionally caddies for Schroer at Aronimink, answered the birdie call.
“That’s one of my favorite memories from today. That’s where communication played a big part,” he said. “I didn’t see as much break as he saw, and I went with him. I hit the line a little firm, but I hit the line, that’s for sure.”
Schroer returned the red figure favor by sweeping in a six-footer on the par 3, 146-yard 13th hole following a soft 8-iron from Mullen. A bogey on No. 18 (par 4, 368 yards) meant a 4 under finish. Mullen, as was the case all day, split the fairway with a towering drive. To avoid a dangerous hole location in front of the right greenside bunker, Schroer aimed a wedge left. Mullen’s ensuing birdie try didn’t negotiate the grain accordingly, and his teammate failed to convert the comebacker from seven feet.
“I couldn’t figure out exactly where to hit it to make it easy for him,” Schroer said of the approach. “Unfortunately, I spun it, so we didn’t have to a chance to let it release. If it had released, he might have been able to figure out how to hit it.”
Schroer and Mullen certainly figured out each other’s strengths firsthand Thursday. The victory meant a lot to both players.
“It’s a nice event honoring Davis Sezna’s son. To me, it’s what it’s all about,” Schroer said.
When asked in what ways Schroer is a mentor, Mullen takes a moment to gather his thoughts.
“That’s a bold question,” he said. “He’s a great guy and a great player. He tells you how he thinks of it. All of the good things you can imagine.”
The Deeg Sezna celebrates the mentorship of the older generation for its younger counterparts. It is named in honor of Davis "Deeg" Sezna, Jr. of Hartefeld National, who lost his life on Sept. 11, 2001 in the attack on the World Trade Center in New York City.
Deeg, an avid golfer long a mentor to his younger brothers Teddy and Willy, and a recent graduate of Vanderbilt University with a degree in economics, was in his sixth day of work on the 104th floor of the South Tower when the terrorists struck.
To memorialize his name, GAP and his father Davis Sezna, Sr. established the Deeg Sezna Four-Ball, pairing a junior player and an older amateur in a better-ball competition, with a minimum age difference of 10 years and the stipulation that the younger player be 21 or younger. The event’s format changed from better-ball to select drive/alternate shot this year.
The goal is to give experienced golfers quality time with the next generation, and vice versa. The age range is 10 to 72.
Golf Association of Philadelphia