Warner Cup (Gross): Jones joins Supers as Champion
ROYERSFORD, Pa. - Another Super-Senior debut, another statement-making victory in the season’s first GAP Senior Major.
Philadelphia Publinks GA’s Buck Jones followed in the footsteps of 2016 Champion Robin McCool of Saucon Valley Country Club in winning his first Super-Senior Division appearance. His title grab Thursday in the Warner Cup (Gross) at Spring Ford Country Club (par 72, 6,163 yards) earned Jones that successful rookie distinction.
Jones battled to a 2-over-round of 74, bettering a field of 45 Super Seniors that were hoping to begin the season with a bang. But today, it was Jones’ turn to make some noise.
He held off reigning four-time Super-Senior Player of the Year Don Donatoni of White Manor Country Club and 2015 GAP Senior Amateur winner Frank Polizzi of Whitemarsh Valley Country Club by two strokes. The win marks Jones’ first individual title in GAP competition.
“It feels good to finally get a win. I’ve come up short before. Days like today are why [I chose] to play with the Super Seniors this year, to try and have a better chance at the winner’s circle,” said Jones, who competed with the Seniors last year despite having been 65 at the time.
The title run didn’t start as ideally as Jones’ 2017 season did. A pesky, four-foot par attempt lipped out on No. 1 (par 4, 434 yards) digging an early hole for Jones. Not the start he wanted, but ultimately, “the mistake proved to be forgivable.”
Things turned around on the par-5, 507-yard 5th. After a solid drive, followed by a nicely-positioned, 5-iron layup, Jones’ wedge approach nestled up to the back tier of the challenging putting surface. He took a look at it, stepped up and drained a 20-footer for birdie.
“I was feeling good after No. 5. I was thinking, ‘Well, here we go,’” said Jones, 66, of Collegeville, Pa.
Then an all-too-familiar golfing reality hit.
“After that nice make, of course, I followed that up with a bad double bogey on No. 6 (4, 305 yards). I hooked it, punched it up into the bunker and ultimately three putted,” he said. “That was no good.”
Again, Jones didn’t let that mistake linger long. No. 9 (par 5, 482 yards) was the setting for his second birdie of the day – a tap-in after a nice wedge approach to two feet in front of the cup. He continued in the right direction with a fantastic par save from the trees on No. 10 (par 4, 400 yards). On the par-4, 336-yard 11th, Jones’ pitching wedge approach rolled 25 feet past the flagstick. The champion snuck the comebacker over the cup’s front lip to card his third and final red number of the day.
Jones knows the Warner Cup like the back of his hand, having competed in it as a Senior virtually every year since he was eligible. In only his second appearance, at Bent Creek Country Club in 2007, he nearly had his hands on the trophy. He ultimately fell to his playing partner, Overbrook Golf Club’s Raymond Thompson, in six playoff holes.
“We played together in the morning and ended up waiting around all day, just hanging out,” recalled Jones, who fell to Thompson as result of a dooming double bogey. “That’s the year he was unstoppable and couldn’t be beat. I could have gotten him there, but I didn’t that day, and I hadn’t had many better finishes than that runner-up one.”
You have now, Buck.
Francis B. Warner of Philadelphia Cricket Club served as the Golf Association of Philadelphia’s secretary-treasurer for 18 years. After his death in 1933, the Association started the Francis B. Warner Cup as an ongoing tribute in his memory. The event marks the first Senior Major of the organization’s tournament season.
Golf Association of Philadelphia