Wilmington Country Club’s Randy Mitchell continued his recent run of strong play by grabbing the lead at the end of the first round of the Golf Association of Philadelphia’s Senior Amateur Championship with a 1-under-par 70 at White Manor Country Club in Willistown Township Tuesday.
Mitchell, who took medalist honors in the local qualifier at Cedarbrook Country Club for the U.S. Senior Amateur last week, was one shot ahead of Craig Kliewer of Honeybrook Golf Club, who matched par at the 6,577-yard, par-71 White Manor layout with a 71.
Starting on the back nine, Mitchell, who reached senior status when he turned 55 this year, ripped off three straight birdies at the 11th, 12th and 13th holes at White Manor.
He dropped a 58-degree wedge 12 feet away at the par-5 11th and made the putt, drilled a 7-iron to 10 feet at the 170-yard, par-3 12th and dropped his birdie try and then saw his hybrid from 195 yards away at the par-4 13th end up four feet from the hole and drained the putt.
His only hiccup came at the par-4 fifth where he missed the green and then three-putted for a double bogey. He was the model of consistency much of the day with 14 pars.
As is always the case in any GAP senior event, Mitchell will have plenty of talented players chasing him in Wednesday’s final round.
Glenn Smeraglio of LuLu Country Club, Kenneth Phillips of Lancaster Country Club and Bert Kosup of The Ridge at Back Brook are tied for third, two shots back of Mitchell and a shot behind Kliewer, each player posting a 1-over 72.
David West of Whitford Country Club and Steven Walczak of Wilmington Country Club are tied for sixth at 2-over 73. Doug Fedoryshyn of Concord Country Club and Greg Guyer of Philadelphia Cricket Club are another shot back in a tie for eighth at 3-over 74.
Three of the five players tied for 10th at 4-over 75 are from the deep talent pool at Overbrook Golf Club, brothers Ray and Andy Thompson and Chris Lange. They were joined at that figure by Michael Vassil of The Country Club of Scranton and Buck Jones of the Philadelphia Publinks Golf Association.
The Super Senior division is almost unfair with reigning three-time GAP Super Senior Player of the Year Don Donatoni playing on his home course, where he has won the club championship 19 times and the senior club championship 12 times.
Donatoni, coming off a victory in the Super Senior North & South Amateur at the Pinehurst Resort in North Carolina, carded a 1-under 70 to take a five-shot lead over Michael Rose of Talamore Country Club.
After a three-putt bogey to start the round, Donatoni got it going on his home course of White Manor, which measured 6,053 yards for the super seniors.
He hit a 6-iron to three feet and made birdie at the par-4 fifth, reached the fringe at the par-5 sixth in two, chipped to eight feet and made the birdie try, knocked a wedge to two feet for birdie at the par-4 seventh and dropped a wedge 10 feet from the cup at the par-4 ninth hole and made the putt.
He cooled off on the back nine with bogeys at the 15th and 18th holes coming in.
Dave Jacobson of Medford Village Country Club is alone in third place, a shot back of Rose at 76.
Carl Everett of Merion Golf Club, John Rowe of Whitemarsh Valley Country Club and Richard Krauss of Manufacturers Golf & Country Club are tied for fourth, each carding a 77.