The semifinals of the Golf Association of Philadelphia’s Brewer Cup presented by Callaway Golf Wednesday at Overbrook Golf Club will pit a couple of old pals when Kenneth Phillips of Lancaster Country Club meets Bob Beck of Lehigh Country Club.
Phillips’ brother Wayne is the head pro at Lehigh and he introduced the pair more than 25 years ago. They have partnered in senior better-ball events. But Wednesday they’ll be battling for a spot in the final of GAP’s senior match-play event, named for O. Gordon Brewer Jr., a Huntingdon Valley Country Club member who has won two U.S. Senior Amateur championships among many golf accomplishments.
Typical of the depth of senior talent in the Philadelphia area, Phillips got past Thomas Hyland of Little Mill Country Club, 4 and 3, in Tuesday’s quarterfinals to reach his semifinal date with Beck.
Phillips and Hyland were among the large contingent of GAP players who reached match play at last year’s U.S. Senior Amateur at Hidden Creek Golf Club at the Jersey Shore. Chip Lutz, the reigning six-time GAP Senior Player of the Year, ended up winning the U.S. Senior Amateur title at Hidden Creek. Lutz of LedgeRock Golf Club was eliminated in a playoff Monday and failed to make match play at Overbrook.
Beck reached the semifinals with a 4 and 3 victory over John DeBoeuf of Philadelphia Country Club.
The other side of the bracket will feature a match between Michael Vassil of the Country Club of Scranton and Christopher Clauson of LuLu Country Club. In their quarterfinal matches, Vassil edged Craig Kliewer of Honeybrook Golf Club, 1-up, while Clauson earned a 1-up decision over Doug Fedoryshyn of Concord Country Club.
Earlier in the day, Kliewer claimed a 1-up victory in an opening-round match against Overbrook’s Chris Lange.
The really good news out of the Brewer Cup is that the 61-year-old Lange is back playing competitive golf again. A three-time Philadelphia Amateur champion, Lange had hip surgery more than two years ago and then underwent knee surgery in December of last year.
But the six-time Overbrook club champion showed he’s back by matching par on his 6,448-yard, par-70 home course in qualifying to share medalist honors with Roc Irey of Lookaway Golf Club.
My favorite memory of Lange has to do with the 2005 U.S. Amateur, which was staged at Merion Golf Club’s historic East Course. The local qualifier at Rolling Green Golf Club and Llanerch Country Club had produced a lot of youngsters and Lange, who, if memory serves me right, survived a playoff to get in.
There was a media gathering of the local qualifiers in advance of the U.S. Amateur. At the time, Merion’s suitability as a host for a fifth U.S. Open was up for debate, but that day Lange passionately defended a course that he made clear had been his privilege to play over the years. He even admitted he would sometimes go out of his way when driving on Ardmore Avenue and take a turn on to Golf House Road just to admire the clubhouse and the 14th and 15th holes.
Give Merion another U.S. Open, Lange urged that day, knowing his words would make their way back to the USGA. Maybe somebody listened because eight years later a fifth Open was indeed contested at Merion’s East Course to rave reviews for the performance of both the golf course and the membership and the local community in putting it on. Just as Lange knew it would.
On the Super-Senior side, Frank Polizzi of Whitemarsh Valley Country Club ended the bid by Don Donatoni of White Manor Country Club for a fourth straight Brewer Cup title by edging Donatoni, 1-up, in a quarterfinal match.
Polizzi’s semifinal opponent will be Dan Burton of Lancaster Country Club, who knocked off Jay Ward of Lookaway, 4 and 3, in their quarterfinal match.
On the other side of the bracket, Robin McCool of Saucon Valley Country Club cruised to a 7 and 5 victory over John Owens of Tavistock Country Club and Michael Anton of Lookaway claimed a 4 and 3 decision over John Rowe of Whitemarsh Valley.