The Golf Association of Philadelphia opened its senior schedule on a chilly Thursday at Whitford Country Club with the 82nd Francis B. Warner Cup (Gross).
Sounds like a nice little event, teeing it up against a bunch of old guys. Problem is when you play in a GAP senior event, you’re competing against some of the top senior players in the country.
Glenn Smeraglio is one of those guys. The 56-year-old Newtown, Bucks County resident who’s playing out of Lu Lu Country Club this year, carded an even-par 72 over the 6,568-yard, par-72 Whitford layout to capture the Warner Cup title.
Smeraglio was one of a large contingent of Philadelphia area seniors who qualified for match play in the U.S. Senior Amateur Championship at Hidden Creek Golf Club at the Jersey Shore last fall. One of them, Chip Lutz, who has been one of the top senior amateur players in the world the last five years or so, won the U.S. Senior Amateur at Hidden Creek, finally adding the U.S. title to his two British and one Canadian senior amateur titles.
Smeraglio edged Mark Ellinger, playing on his home course at Whitford, by a shot for the Warner Cup title. Ellinger was also in the field at Hidden Creek, although he did not qualify for match play.
Lutz, of LedgeRock Golf Club, was another shot back in third at 2-over 74. Others in the Warner Cup field who also made the match-play bracket at Hidden Creek included Thomas Hyland of Little Mill Country Club, Brian Rothaus of Five Ponds Golf Club, Ray Thompson of Overbrook Golf Club and Kenneth Phillips of Lancaster Country Club.
Smeraglio, who also qualified for the U.S. Mid-Amateur Championship last year, had two birdies and two bogeys, but counted a pair of 12-foot putts for par saves at the second and 15th holes as the keys to his round.
Last year was Smeraglio’s first competing in GAP senior events and while he finished second to Lutz in the Player of the Year race, he did not win.
“This is the first win of many, hopefully,” Smeraglio told the GAP website. “It’s good to get a W. I kind of wanted to win a couple of things last year. I’m focused on winning this year. Hopefully I can keep it up.”
Four players – Dave West of Applecross Country Club, Jim Yenser of Raven’s Claw Golf Club, Oscar Mestre of Overbrook and Robert Amen of the Philadelphia Publinks Golf Association – carded 75s to finish tied for fourth. Little Mill’s Hyland, Doug Fedoryshyn of Concord Country Club and Tom DiCinti of Old York Road Country Club at Chesterfield finished in a tie for eighth, each posting a 4-over 76.
The Super-Senior division was won by Saucon Valley’s Robin McCool. McCool fired a 3-over 75 to match a morning 75 from O. Gordon Brewer Jr. of Pine Valley Golf Club, but Brewer didn’t stick around for a playoff because he had a flight to warmer weather in Florida to catch. The ageless Brewer, by the way, is a two-time U.S. Senior Amateur champion.
Don Donatoni of White Manor Country Club, the reigning three-time GAP Super-Senior Player of the Year, finished third with a 77. William Lawler of Fox Hill Country Club was another two shots back of Donatoni in fourth place with a 79.