Brewer Cup: White Manor’s Donatoni repeats in Super-Senior Division
LAFAYETTE HILL, Pa. — In the Golf Association of Philadelphia’s Super-Senior archives, 2013 is Don Donatoni’s Annus Mirabilis. He captured all four of the Division’s Majors en route to Player of the Year honors. The achievements made Donatoni beam with pride but also added a personal weight to his successful shoulders.
“I didn’t think it would be possible for me to repeat what I did last year. There are too many good players,” Donatoni, 66, of Malvern, Pa., said. “It’s made [this year] more challenging because I feel like I’m one of the favorites every time I tee it up. I know I have to dig down deep every time I play to prove to myself that last year wasn’t a fluke.”
Proof is in the trophy Donatoni attained Wednesday at Whitemarsh Valley Country Club. He edged home-club hopeful John Rowe, 3&1, to win the Super-Senior crown in the 7th Brewer Cup. The White Manor Country Club member is the first to capture back-to-back titles since Charles McClaskey of Back Creek Golf Club turned the task in 2010-11.
But a triumphant title defense seemed out of the cards earlier in the week. Donatoni pieced together a pair of up-and-downs to survive a five-for-three playoff and to seize the tournament’s final match play spot.
“To be the last one in the field and end up winning everything, it’s pretty amazing,” Donatoni said. “It just goes to show you that anyone who makes match play has a good chance to come out on top.”
“I was pleased just to make it to match play and to keep moving,” Rowe, 67, of Philadelphia, Pa., said. “It’s always a treat playing against Don. He is probably the toughest there is. You can’t give Don an inch because you’ll be back a mile.”
Donatoni gave Rowe inches, and vice versa, in the form of hole victories as the two traded blows at the match’s outset. Donatoni steadied his ship with a birdie on No. 9 (par 3, 104 yards) after stopping a gap wedge at eight feet. The conversion injected Donatoni with a momentum entering the back nine. Rowe enhanced his opponent’s energy with consecutive missteps. Rowe’s wedge from 115 yards on No. 11 (par 5, 488 yards) peeled off the green. He then committed a self-diagnosed fatal mistake to trail 1-down.
“I put it three feet past, and even though it’s only three feet, there was probably a foot of lead,” Rowe said. “I just couldn’t make the putts, and Don did. He deserved it. He’s class all the way.”
On No. 12 (par 3, 155 yards), Rowe attempted to rope a 7-iron an let it ride a swale on the green, but caught it thin and soon failed to execute a sand save from the back right bunker. Donatoni sealed a second trophy with a spectacular birdie on No. 17 (par 5, 452 yards). He aimed a 7-iron from 160 yards at the green’s meat. It initially painted the flagstick but didn’t change course, leaving Donatoni in the right greenside bunker. With a friendly uphill lie, he blasted out to a foot for a conceded 4 and a handshake.
“I was most proud of that shot because under the pressure, I figured if John would make his putt and if I don’t hit it close, we’re going to the 18th hole, and anything can happen there,” Donatoni said. “I knew that bunker shot was critical. I talked myself into it.”
“This is a tremendous confidence booster. This is a very difficult event to win.”
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