Gimme five: White Manor’s Donatoni adds to Brewer collection
SPRING HOUSE, Pa. — Six years. Five trophies. One blossoming Brewer Cup legacy.
| Super-Senior POY standings | Overbrook’s Thompson takes Senior title |
Don Donatoni added the latest piece to a burgeoning collection Wednesday in the tournament's 11th edition, presented by Callaway Golf at a picturesque Old York Road Country Club (par 71, 5,960 yards). The Golf Association of Philadelphia’s five-time reigning Super-Senior Player of the Year defeated an eager Thomas Mallouk, 5&4, to capture his fifth (2013-15, 2017) Brewer title.
“You would never dream that you’d be able to win one or two of these, let alone five,” Donatoni, 70, of Malvern, Pa., said. “Anybody who plays this game knows that match play is very difficult to get through. To have excelled in this format, I feel that I’m a pretty good match play player. Maybe it’s my discipline and focus. I’ve had a lot of success.”
“I have no excuses. I did what I could do. I just ran out of gas,” Mallouk, 68, of Doylestown, Pa., said. “You can’t miss shots against a guy like Don. He just played solid, steady golf. He’s a great champion and a great guy.”
To become a champion once again, Donatoni capitalized on Mallouk malfunctions, wrangled a trio of crucial bunker halves and overcame Old York Road’s unforgiving green complexes.
One of those Mallouk errors occurred on No. 6 (par 4, 370 yards), when the first-time finalist stood 1-down He missed his only fairway in the Final and faced a hairy lie in the left rough. Mallouk attempted to bunt a 4-iron in an effort to chase it onto the green. Blades of grass turned the club left, directing Mallouk into the greenside bunker. Two extrication attempts preceded a concession.
“I had no idea what to do in the bunker. That happens,” Mallouk said. “If I made 7 there versus 5, it didn’t make any difference. I hit shots this afternoon that made me think, ‘Really?’”
Other examples included a gently bristled chip from the back of the No. 8 (par 4, 316 yards) green and a heavy wedge on No. 11 (par 4, 375 yards). Both resulted in bogeys and a loss of hole.
As exhaustion tormented Mallouk, his opponent, well-accustomed to pressure positions, remained unscathed even when the slightest bit of weakness appeared. Donatoni, who captured the Super-Senior title in the Pennsylvania Golf Association’s Senior Match Play earlier this year, walked away from three holes with halves following unfavorable bunker positions. He matched Mallouk’s 5 on No. 2 (par 4, 317 yards) despite a buried lie in the left greenside bunker. Donatoni narrowly exited sandy situations on Nos. 7 (par 4, 394 yards) and 9 (par 5, 471 yards) and therefore encountered delicate chips to grueling hole locations. No damage on any.
“On those holes, I short-sided myself, which you can’t do here. I tried to just get it out instead of just getting it on the green,” Donatoni said. “I was very fortunate.”
Donatoni, who registered nine greens in regulation in the Final, made a fifth title apparent with a win on the 13th hole (par 4, 391 yards). Mallouk ran a practically improbable birdie attempt seven feet past the hole location and missed the comebacker. Effective lag putting — on again, off again for Donatoni in the Final — returned to give the White Manor Country Club member an insurmountable 5-up lead.
“In the medal-play round, I quickly learned that it was better to be short and under these holes than to even be pin-high,” Donatoni said. “I was telling Gordon Brewer that if you get above these holes, the greens are extremely treacherous and slippery. You have significant breaks that you have to deal with. If I had 145 yards to the hole, I was playing it like it was 140 yards. I was taking something off shots so I could stay under the hole. This course’s defense is the greens, without a doubt.”
“I putted really well for the first two rounds [of match play]. This afternoon, I did what my opponents did against me: got on the wrong side of the green,” Mallouk, a psychologist with a practice in Rosemont, Pa., said. “It’s a mentally demanding golf course. You have to think about where you want to miss all of the time.”
With Wednesday’s win, Donatoni’s quest for an unfathomable sixth-straight POY recognition is now in gear.
“I was very disappointed with my performances in the Warner Cup (Gross) and Chapman Cup (Gross). I had a very bad neck,” Donatoni said. “I was going to see a chiropractor. He helped me out but it took a while. I couldn’t stand over a putt and look down the line. Once I got through that, I started feeling a lot better. My range of motion improved.
“Nothing beats winning as far as building confidence in your game.”
“I got off to a bad start. I hit the ball well, but I just didn’t make any putts,” Chylinski, 68, of West Chester, Pa., said. “That was the difference in the match.”
The par 4, 395-yard 17th presented Chylinski with a chance to extend matters. Thinking a jumper awaited, he took a bit off a 9-iron from 139 yards and left it short of the putting surface. Chylinski missed a four-footer to save par.
Jones, the reigning Super-Senior Silver Cross Award winner, pointed to the par 4, 304-yard 11th hole as a turning point. A pulled drive led to a loss of hole. Donatoni drained a right-to-left breaking 20-footer for birdie on No. 15 (par 5, 501 yards) to post a 4&3 victory.
“From [No. 11], I just didn’t hit good shots. He’s too steady to do that against,” Jones, 67, of Collegeville, Pa., said.
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. He was recognized for his contributions to the game with the USGA’s Bob Jones Award. Brewer is also a member of the GAP Hall of Fame.
Golf Association of Philadelphia