White Manor’s Donatoni completes three-peat in Brewer Cup Supers
BETHLEHEM, Pa. - Don Donatoni of White Manor Country Club has an inaugural claim to Golf Association of Philadelphia fame: three Brewer Cup trophies in three Brewer Cup appearances.
A front-nine score of 31 propelled Donatoni to yet another Super-Senior title on Wednesday at Saucon Valley Country Club’s Weyhill Course, where he defeated homeclub hopeful Joesph Marucci, 7&5, to complete the three-peat.
“It’s not easy to win one match play championship, let alone two. The first one was particularly special, and then to back it up and do it again was great,” said Donatoni, 67 of Malvern, Pa. “But this one was even better than the second one because it’s difficult to three-peat anything, especially a match play championship.”
The two-time reigning Super-Senior Player of the Year was in full control of his golf ball all of Wednesday. Donatoni’s 31 on the front nine, which even he was surprised by, told the Final story.
After beginning with a bogey on No. 1 (par 4, 361 yards) versus Marucci, Donatoni dug down deep and settled in on No. 3 (par 4, 372 yards) after hitting a 9-iron to five feet. Then a quick burst of hurricane-like conditions crept its way onto the Saucon Valley track, forcing Donatoni to study his putt for a good 15 minutes during the short break. When the waters subdued on the third green, Donatoni stepped up and put his first birdie in the middle of the cup to bring the match back to All-Square.
The birdies didn’t stop there. On No. 4 (par 4, 339 yards), he played a wedge from the middle of the fairway to 15 feet, and then sank the attempt from the fringe to take his first lead.
“At that point, I felt like I was taking charge. I had been hitting the ball well, and felt very confident that I could put the ball wherever I wanted to. It was one of those days where all the pieces of the swing were working in sync,” Donatoni said.
Donatoni took a 3-up advantage after winning Nos. 6 (par 5, 464 yards) and 8 (par 4, 352 yards) with two more red numbers. The match’s biggest highlight then surfaced on No. 9 (par 5, 490 yards), where Donatoni jarred a 20-foot bomb for eagle.
“I wasn’t on my A game yesterday, and I was fortunate to be playing today. My ball-striking today, though, was as crisp as it’s ever been. I was flushing my irons and hitting a little five-yard draw every shot,” said Donatoni, who claimed the Super-Senior hardware in 2013 at Lookaway Golf Club and again in 2014 at Whitemarsh Valley Country Club. “I felt like I was very aggressive today, and I felt confident coming into the Finals because I was hitting the ball very well, thinking well, and executing my shots.”
If a three-peat wasn’t remarkable enough for Donatoni, there was a special guest in Mr. O. Gordon Brewer, Jr., the tournament’s namesake, waiting for the champion as he walked off the 13th green to heighten the victory even more so.
“To have him waiting off the green to congratulate me makes it as special as it can be. It’s just a tremendous honor to win a tournament named after him. He’s a legend of Philadelphia golf, and everyone respects him, and I have the utmost respect for him as a man and a player.”
For Saucon Valley’s Marucci, all was not lost in defeat The 65-year-old, battling back from a half-knee replacement he underwent November, came out of the week with not only full health, but also a taste of GAP success outside of the BMW GAP Team Matches.
“I am thrilled, I really am. It’s been a tough, physical struggle for me with my knees, but they felt really great this week and I’m happy that they held up. In the end, a little bit of concentration was lacking, and that just comes from not having played in a lot of competitions recently.”
Marucci will be playing more golf in the coming days on the Weyhill track, his favorite of the three Saucon Valley courses. On Friday, he will compete in an inter-club match between Saucon Valley and Winged Foot Golf Club here before competing again on Weyhill for the club’s Senior Club Championship.
The Titusville, N.J resident says, despite his own stellar performances this week, he could do nothing but tip his cap to the first three-time winner of the Brewer Cup.
“Don is such a quality player, and I just can’t beat 31. He just had it going today,” said Marucci. “I tried to hold on and I did for a little while, but I’m really happy for him because it was a lot of fun being out there with him.”
The Brewer Cup, launched in 2008, is named in honor of Brewer Jr., a veteran of 42 USGA Championships and two-time U.S. Senior Amateur Champion (1994, 1996). He also won Golf Association of Philadelphia Amateur titles in 1967 and 1976 as well as the 1997 Senior Amateur Championship, which earned Brewer Player of the Year honors that year. He was inducted into the Golf Association of Philadelphia’s Hall of Fame in 2011.
Golf Association of Philadelphia