Past champions share medalist honors in Brewer Cup Qualifier
LAFAYETTE HILL, Pa. — En route to securing his second Brewer Cup title a year ago at Lookaway Golf Club, Robin McCool cited a 2&1 victory over Chip Lutz in the event’s opening round as a confidence genesis. The moment made McCool’s trophy prospects even more of a possibility in his mind.
Lutz and McCool met again Monday, this time side-by-side and paired together in the tournament’s stoke-play qualifier at a breezy Whitemarsh Valley Country Club (par 72, 6,601 yards). Both players carded even-par 72s to share medalist honors.
As a result of their respective performances, the next meeting between the two GAP proponents can only occur in the Final. Lutz is seeded No. 1, McCool No. 2 based on order of scorecard return. Lutz will face Reading Country Club’s Richard Custer when match play begins tomorrow at 8 a.m. McCool opposes Manufacturers Golf & Country Club’s Jim Macallister at 8:30 a.m.
The cut line stopped at 77, with 16 players advancing.
“We’ve been friends and partners in tournaments for a longtime,” Lutz, 59, of Reading, Pa., said. “We served on the [Golf Association of Philadelphia] Executive Committee together. We won the [Pennsylvania Golf Association] Senior Better-Ball last year. Now we’re in opposite brackets. Maybe if we’re both fortunate enough, we’ll see each other in the final.”
A “lost and found” theme highlighted the co-medalists Monday. Lutz realized his gap wedge was missing when he faced a 112-yard shot on his first hole.
“The lost wedge threw a wrinkle at me early on,” the LedgeRock Golf Club member said. “That was a bit of a challenge. I needed to use some creative thinking throughout the round.”
McCool, who hails from Saucon Valley Country Club, found his golf game over the weekend as he captured Bethlehem Golf Club’s stroke-play championship.
“I felt pretty good about that. However, playing more than three days in a row isn’t good for my back,” McCool, who is nearly three years removed from spinal fusion surgery, said. “I came in here today and felt like I had control of my ball flight. The objective was to hit a lot of greens and make a lot of pars.”
Objective achieved. McCool, 63, of Bethlehem, Pa., carded two birdies against two bogeys on the day. He stopped a 3-wood at 15 feet on the difficult par 3, 230-yard No. 4 for a terrific 2. McCool immediately relinquished the stroke on the next hole (par 5, 506 yards), where he misread a three-footer for par. He also bogeyed the uphill par 3, 140-yard 16th hole after his low 6-iron crashed into the green’s front and rolled down the slope. His other birdie occurred on No. 10 (par 4, 375 yards). McCool manufactured a half 7-iron upwind from 128 yards to 15 feet.
McCool is the only two-time Brewer Cup winner in the event’s seven-year history (2010, 2013). He’s far from letting thoughts of a third clout his quest this year.
“I don’t want to sound trite, but it’s really just one shot at a time,” McCool said. “That’s all I can do. I like my chances if I just do that.”
A shaky front nine didn’t leave Lutz entirely enthusiastic about his qualifying chances. Starting on No. 1 (par 4, 354 yards), the four-time reigning GAP Senior Player of the Year turned in 2 over, but quickly erased any doubt with back-to-back birdies on Nos. 10 and 11 (par 5, 501 yards). On the first, he compensated for the lost gap wedge by executing a modified pitching wedge shot to 18 feet. Lutz reached the right greenside bunker on No. 11 in two strokes and splashed into kick-in range. A powerful 7-iron from 180 yards on the par 5, 482-yard 17th hole set up a two-putt birdie.
“Overall, I was pleased to play a reasonable round,” Lutz, the 2011 Brewer Cup Champion, said. “In these tournaments, you want to play well enough to get into match play.”
“I was on my way to making an 8 and somehow made a 6. That saved the round,” O’Rourke, 70, of Malvern, Pa., said. “I was in the fairway bunker, barely got it out, laid it up and was in the bunker again. It was a bad lie and a long bunker shot. I barely got it to the top of the hill. I chipped it up three feet and made the downhill putt for 6.”
O’Rourke followed that bogey save with a pair of birdies on Whitemarsh Valley’s back nine. He drilled a pitching wedge 118 yards to 20 feet on No. 13 (par 4, 350 yards) and nudged a chip to three feet on No. 17 (par 5, 456 yards) after almost reaching the green in two strokes with a 3-wood. Overall, O’Rourke registered 11 fairways — also a key to his medalist performance.
“I drove it really well today,” he said.
O’Rourke will face White Manor Country Club’s Don Donatoni, the Division’s reigning champion, at 9 a.m. tomorrow. The Super-Senior cut line fell to 78.
The Brewer Cup is named in honor of O. Gordon Brewer, Jr., the former president of Pine Valley Golf Club. He is a two-time U.S. Senior Amateur Champion and veteran of 42 USGA Championships. He’s captured two Golf Association of Philadelphia Amateur Championship titles (1967, 1976), a GAP Senior Amateur Championship crown (1997) and a Senior Player of the Year (1997) as well as countless invitational titles. Five years ago he was recognized for his contributions to the game with the USGA’s Bob Jones Award.
Golf Association of Philadelphia