White Manor’s Donatoni completes Super-Senior Division sweep
HUNTINGDON VALLEY, Pa.–Don Donatoni’s rookie season in the Super-Senior ranks proved a sweeping success. Donatoni, 65, carded a final-round 2-under-par 68 in the Senior Amateur Championship Super-Senior Division on Wednesday at Huntingdon Valley Country Club (par 70, 6,025 yards) to lap the field of 45 players by five shots. Donatoni finished the two rounds at 1 over. Charles McClaskey, the 2010 champion, placed second. Talamore Country Club’s Mike Rose, one of two first-round leaders, was third.
Donatoni’s victory also secured the Super-Senior Silver Cross for the long-time White Manor Country Club member and completed a sweep of all five Major 65-and-over titles. Donatoni won Brewer Cup, Chapman Cup and Warner Cup titles earlier in the year.
“I think it validates my position in the game and in the Golf Association of Philadelphia,” said Donatoni. “I’ve done well in amateur events. I’ve done well in senior amateur events. Personally, for me, this year became very satisfying [in the fact] that I was able to do what some people expected me to do. There were a number of friends and fellow competitors who expected me do well when I turned . I wanted to come out this year and proved I belonged.”
Donatoni started the day two strokes behind first-round co-leaders Rose and Charles McDowell of Wilmington Country Club.
However, he immediately vaulted himself into contention and atop the scoreboard with three birdies, and a par, in his first four holes to flip his status from two shots behind to two strokes to the good. He knocked a 58-degree wedge from 81 yards on the first (par 4, 360 yards) to 10 feet for birdie; launched a 6-iron on No. 3 (par 3, 168 yards) to 10 feet and “poured [the putt] right in the middle” and after pulling his gap wedge approach from 105 yards on No. 4 (par 4, 316 yard) slightly left, rolled in a 25 foot left-to-right breaker.
Donatoni bogeyed No. 6 (par 4, 359 yards) but responded in true championship form with back-to-back birdies on the next two holes. He lifted a 58-degree wedge from 85 yards to 15 feet on the par 5, 7th (500 yards) and then canned an unexpected 45-foot uphill left-to-right putt for 3 on No. 8 (par 4, 350 yards).
“I was hoping to get it to within a three-foot circle,” said Donatoni of his putt on No. 8. “I picked a line and trusted the stroke. I was aggressive with the stroke up the hill. It almost stopped. It got to the edge of the hole and dropped in. At that point I really felt like I had something going.”
On the ensuing ninth hole (par 4, 418 yards), Donatoni sealed his and the tournament’s fate. He drove his ball right and behind a pair of trees. Opting to go over, instead of chipping out sideways, Donatoni knocked a spectacular 6-iron from 166 yards onto the putting surface 25 feet away and two putted for par.
“That was a game saver for me,” said Donatoni, a Malvern, Pa., resident. “I had trees to go over and had to hook it from a nasty lie. I felt if I hit a solid 6-iron I might get it on the green. That was the best shot I hit all day. To me, that was the round saver. I was thinking, ‘be aggressive.’ ”
Donatoni did bogey Nos. 11 (par 4, 309 yards) and 12 (No. 4, 365 yards) but never saw his lead dwindle below three shots the rest of the way. He finished with six straight pars.
“I didn’t play well yesterday. I motivated myself last night to come out here and be aggressive from the first tee shot to the last putt,” said Donatoni. “I felt my game was in very good shape and felt there was no reason to hold back. After I birdied No. 1 I had the slam on my mind a little bit. I felt this would be a tremendous capper to a great year. I did a good job today of focusing on the shot at hand.”
McClaskey, of Back Creek Golf Club, played in the same group with Donatoni and did his best to hang close. He stood at 4-over for the tournament thru 16 holes, before finishing with consecutive bogeys.
“I said if he keeps [making birdies] there’s not much of a chance, but I needed to keep putting the pressure on him,” said McClaskey, 74, of Elkton, Md. “You have to do what the other guy does. You can’t hang your head. Just keep grinding it out. He deserved to win.”
In addition to a precedent establishing Golf Association of Philadelphia year, Donatoni set a personal record by winning both the Amateur and Senior club championships at White Manor. It was his 19th regular title and ninth straight senior crown. However, this was the first time he’s held both concurrently.
NOTES–Donatoni’s 20-shot victory in the Super-Senior Silver Cross was a record. The Super-Senior Silver Cross is awarded to the player with the lowest aggregate score in the Warner Cup (Gross), Chapman (Gross) and Senior Amateur Championship. The previous largest margin for a winner was 14, by McClaskey in 2011.