Donatoni overcomes injury thoughts, grabs #GAPSrAm Supers lead
MALVERN, Pa. â€” Ever since a freak injury in last yearâ€™s Senior Amateur Championship, damaging thoughts have lingered in Don Donatoniâ€™s mind during his pregame routine. But Tuesday, as can be expected on his home track, Donatoni bloodied the spirits of his Super-Senior competition.
History | Senior/Super-Senior Silver Cross Award standings |
Donatoni fired a 1-under-par 70 at White Manor Country Club (par 71, 6,053 yards), grabbing the Day 1 Super-Senior lead in the 46th Senior Amateur. Heâ€™ll head into tomorrowâ€™s final round with a five-shot lead over Talamore Country Clubâ€™s Michael Rose (4-over 74).
The Associationâ€™s reigning three-time Super-Senior Player of the Year will now shift his focus to closing out another GAP Major overnight, while also trying to stay unscathed.
Heading into Day 2 last year at The Union League Golf Club at Torresdale, Donatoni was tied with Little Mill Country Clubâ€™s Robert Lodovici at 3-over par. Then a freak accident occurred on the practice range. Donatoni began his warm ups, swinging with two clubs in hand. One of his sticks caught a piece of the artificial turf and twisted the club in his hand.
The result? Bleeding throughout the final round followed by five post-game stiches in the emergency room.
â€śIâ€™ll never forget it. I still warm up the same way, but I stay away from the turf now. I donâ€™t want anything sticking and I swing about six inches off the ground,â€ť said Donatoni, who holds 31 overall club championships (19 menâ€™s, 12 seniors) at White Manor. â€śI think about it all the time.â€ť
While those bad thoughts still loomed today, they didnâ€™t seem to make much of an impact past Donatoniâ€™s three-putt bogey to start on No. 1 (par 4, 405 yards). Donatoni would then go 4 under over the next eight holes.
A low-flighted 6-iron rolled up to three feet on No. 5 (par 4, 369 yards) to ignite the hot streak. Donatoni muscled his second shot to the fringe on the par-5, 499-yard 6th. His preceding chip stopped eight feet from the cup, leaving Donatoni with a left-to-right slider for birdie. That fell to get him in red numbers. A hybrid-wedge sequence then led to a two-foot tap in on No. 7 (par 4, 292 yards). He finished that stretch off with a jarred birdie on No. 9 (par 4, 361 yards). Wanting to leave his approach below the hole, Donatoni chose wedge from 113 yards out. He â€śstruck the birdie look just right,â€ť draining it from 10 feet.
â€śI was 3 under making the turn, so I was feeling good out there. Coming off the 9th, I was in a comfortable spot heading into the back nine,â€ť he said.
Although bogeys arrived on Nos. 15 (par 4, 305 yards) and 18 (par 4, 347 yards), Donatoni managed to finish for good in red numbers. Sleeping on such a demanding lead is something Donatoni has plenty of experience in.
â€śTonight Iâ€™ll just go home and not talk about it, at all, with anybody. I know my son will call, because he really enjoys the game, but thatâ€™ll be a short conversation,â€ť he said. â€śIâ€™ll just think about the good shots I made today, and think about some of the mistakes I made to see if I can improve on those.â€ť
Itâ€™s now Donatoniâ€™s title to lose heading into tomorrow. Thatâ€™s not something that scares him, though.
â€śRight now, Iâ€™m playing as well as I have in a while,â€ť said Donatoni, who is coming off a win in the Super Senior North & South Amateur at Pinehurst Resort & Country Club. â€śThat was a huge win for me. I finally shot my age [in the final round] to come from eight back, and that was probably the biggest one Iâ€™ve ever had. So today was mostly carry over, and thatâ€™s because my irons which have been really consistent. If that keeps up, Iâ€™ll have a good chance to hit a lot of greens [tomorrow] and hopefully the putter is working."
Donatoni will be joined by Rose and Medford Village Country Clubâ€™s Dave Jacobson in tomorrowâ€™s final pairing at 9:20 a.m.
Golf Association of Philadelphia