You can put together some pretty good better-ball pairings when it comes to senior players on the Golf Association of Philadelphia scene.
That’s why what Thomas Bartolacci Jr. and Glenn Smeraglio did in cruising to the Senior Four-Ball Stroke Play championship Thursday at LedgeRock Golf Club in Mohnton was so impressive.
The 65-year-old Bartolacci, who plays out of Saucon Valley Country Club, and the 56-year-old Smeraglio, who plays out of LuLu Country Club, put together an 8-under 64 over the 6,372-yard, par-72 LedgeRock layout for a two-shot victory.
The only team that came close to the winners came out of their foursome as the Laurel Creek Country Club duo of Joseph Russo and Mark Walker took second place with a 6-under 66. Having their two closest pursuers in the same group seemed to work in favor of Bartolacci and Smeraglio.
“It was good, solid play by both guys,” Smeraglio, who qualified for both the U.S. Mid-Amateur and U.S. Senior Amateur championships in 2015, told the GAP website. “We were in the hole mostly all day. We had 30 on the front with four birdies and an eagle. It was good to get out in front. (Russo and Walker) were keeping pace. They were their pushing us.”
The team really heated up in a stretch that closed out the front nine. Smeraglio hit the back-to-back par-5 seventh and eighth holes in two, two-putting for birdie at seven and draining the eagle putt on eight, and Bartolacci made birdie on nine. Birdies at 12 and 16 by Bartolacci finished off the round and separated him and Smeraglio from the rest of the pack.
Bartolacci said his first choice of partners was LedgeRock legend and reigning U.S. Senior Amateur champion Chip Lutz, but Lutz was busy playing in the U.S. Senior Open at Scioto Country Club in Columbus, Ohio. A little more on Lutz later.
The Overbrook Golf Club pair of Ray Thompson and Oscar Mestre led a group of three teams tied for third at 3-under 69. They were joined at that figure by the Kennett Square Golf & Country Club team of Ralph Bincarowski and Frank Kovalcheck and the Lancaster Country Club duo of Marlin Detweiler and Kenneth Phillips.
Three more teams finished in a tie for sixth at 2-under 70, including the Merion Golf Club pair of Robert Wagner and Gordon Jamieson, the Lehigh Country Club duo of Thomas Soares and Bob Beck and the team of Daniel Burton of Lancaster Country Club and Frank Rutan IV of Philadelphia Cricket Club.
Six teams – the Indian Valley Country Club duo of Dwight Dudas and Anthony White Jr., the team of Joe Butto of Moselem Springs Golf Club and Byron Whiteman of the Philadelphia Publinks Golf Association, the Chester Valley Golf Club pair of Kenneth Silverwood and Ed Chylinski, the team of William Thornton of Heidelberg Country Club and Kelly Patton of host LedgeRock, the LedgeRock pair of Joseph Cala and John Hannon and the duo of Robert Wurtz Jr. of Pine Valley Golf Club and Gary Smith of the Cricket Club – finished in a tie for ninth at 1-under 71.
In the Super-Senior division, the pair of Don Donatoni of White Manor Country Club and Carl Everett of Merion was a repeat winner as they posted a 5-under 67 to finish three shots clear of the field.
Everett, 69, did most of the damage, chipping in for birdie on the first hole, getting a two-putt birdie after hitting the par-5 eighth hole in two and making a birdie at 14. Donatoni, 68, the reigning three-time GAP Super-Senior Player of the Year, finished off the effort with a birdie at 16.
The Lookaway Golf Club tandem of Thomas Mallouk and Michael Anton and Matthew Bellis of Commonwealth National Golf Club and Michael Rose of Talamore Country Club shared second place at 2-under 70.
The Sandy Run Country Club pair of John Young and John DiMarzio and the Wilmington Country Club duo of Donald MacKelcan and Robert Hackett Jr. finished in a tie for fourth at 1-under 71.
You can argue that the contingent of GAP senior golfers is led by the premier senior amateur golfer in the world. That would be Lutz, who has had himself a couple of weeks.
Last weekend, Lutz sank a 25-foot birdie putt on the first hole of sudden death at Fomby Golf Club in England to win The Seniors Amateur Championship for the third time. That goes with his two Canadian Senior Amateur titles and the U.S. Senior Amateur championship he won last fall at Hidden Creek Golf Club in Egg Harbor Township, N.J.
Lutz finished in a tie with Graham Bell and fellow American Brady Exber at 4-over 220 for the regulation 54 holes after a final-round 75 over the par-72 Fomby layout.
Then Lutz headed back to the States and another impressive performance in the U.S. Senior Open at Scioto. A 1-under 69 in the second round made Lutz the only amateur to make the cut after he opened with a 77. He added a 74 in Saturday’s third round and stands at 10-over 220 in a tie for 42nd heading into Monday’s final round after heavy rain forced the USGA to suspend play before it even started Sunday.
Lutz would appear to have his game in pretty good shape as he gears up for a big September, which includes the U.S. Mid-Amateur Championship in East Nantmeal, Chester County, where Lutz can sleep in his own bed and commute back and forth, beginning Sept. 10, and, of course, the defense of his U.S. Senior Amateur Championship at Old Warson Country Club in St. Louis beginning Sept. 17.