I’m always bragging about how many great senior golfers there are in this area and the last few days have provided more evidence of that.
I’ll get to Chip Lutz, named by Global Golf Post as the top male amateur in the world in 2016, after he tries to defend his Senior Amateur title at Sunningdale’s Old Course next week, but it’s already been a successful trip across the pond as he was the low amateur in last week’s Senior Open Championship at blustery Royal Porthcawl in Wales.
And the ageless Ray Thompson, at 65, teamed with fellow Overbrook Golf Club member Oscar Mestre to win the Golf Association of Philadelphia’s Senior Four-Ball Stroke Play Championship Thursday at Laurel Creek Country Club.
And, oh yeah, George Forster and Stu Ingraham, two of the best senior club pros in the country, duked it out in a playoff in the Philadelphia Section PGA’s Skee Riegel Senior Open Thursday at Forster’s home course, Radnor Valley Country Club.
I’ll get to all of that in the next few days, but how about a senior lady who defied her age once again this week. I give you Liz Haines.
The 69-year-old Gladwyne resident and Merion Golf Club member has been a really good player for a really long time. And guess what, she still is.
There was only one ticket available for the U.S. Senior Women’s Amateur Championship in a qualifier Monday at LedgeRock Golf Club in Mohnton, Berks County, administered by GAP. And Haines got it.
It’s been 13 years since Haines lost in the final of the U.S. Senior Women’s Amateur, dropping a 1-up decision to Carolyn Creekmore at Pastiempo Golf Club in Santa Cruz, Calif. She’ll be back in the field for the 2017 edition of the championship, which tees off Sept. 9 at Waverly Country Club in Portland, Ore.
Haines carded a 1-over-par 75 over a LedgeRock layout that measured 5,737 yards and played to a par of 74 for the ladies to claim medalist honors and earn the one available berth to Portland.
She finished three shots clear of another senior stalwart from this area, Bethlehem’s Noreen Mohler, who posted a 78 and is the first alternate. Allison Long of Coatesville finished third with an 80 and is the second alternate.
Haines sank a six-foot putt for birdie at the first and then rolled in a 50-foot bomb to make a birdie at the 16th. From all reports, LedgeRock is a tough test, but Haines, after her first look at the course in a Sunday practice round, passed it with flying colors.
“I’m thrilled with the way I played today,” Haines told the GAP website. “I played this course for the first time (Sunday). There were a lot of shots that I wasn’t certain about. It helped today. You can’t come into a course like this having never played it.”
By the way, another veteran of the Philadelphia scene, Lisa McGill, booked her ticket to the U.S. Women’s Senior Amateur by claiming medalist honors with a 70 at Haverhill Country Club in Haverhill, Mass. in a qualifier held Thursday.
The area’s senior men were also at LedgeRock Monday looking for one of five spots available to the U.S. Senior Amateur Championship, which tees off Aug. 26 at The Minikahda Club in Minneapolis, Minn.
David Brown of Ligonier and William Charpek of Red Bank, N.J. were the co-medalists, each carding a 2-under 70 over a LedgeRock layout that measured 6,854 yards and played to a par of 72 for the guys.
The 56-year-old Brown was coming off a solid showing in the Pennsylvania Golf Association’s R. Jay Sigel Match Play Championship at The Country Club of Scranton, where he lost in the final to four-time U.S. Mid-Amateur champion Nathan Smith. This will be his 10th USGA championship, the last one being the 2012 U.S. Senior Open. Brown is the reigning PAGA Senior Amateur Match Play champion.
Although the 60-year-old Charpek lives in Jersey, he is a member at Merion Golf Club. The 2015 New Jersey Senior Amateur champion, Charpek will be playing in the U.S. Senior Amateur for the first time, but he has qualified for both the U.S. Amateur and the U.S. Mid-Amateur in the past.
Third place went to the ageless Don Donatoni, who carded a 1-under 71 at LedgeRock. The reigning four-time GAP Super-Senior Player of the Year, Donatoni will be teeing it up in the Senior Amateur for the fourth time.
Donatoni of White Manor Country Club was part of a large group of locals at the 2015 Senior Amateur at Hidden Creek Golf Club at the Jersey Shore that was won by Lutz, the reigning seven-time GAP Senior Player of the Year. Donatoni just missed qualifying for match play.
By the way, Donatoni will show up when I finally get around to that GAP Senior Four Ball Stroke Play report because he and his longtime pal, Merion Golf Club’s Carl Everett, took top honors in the Super- Senior division.
It looks like there was a three-way playoff for the last two tickets to Minikahde after Christopher Clauson of Philadelphia, Scott Mayne of Harrisburg and Doug Fedoryshyn of Malvern finished tied for fourth at even-par 72.
Fedoryshyn, who moved over to Applebrook Golf Club after many years at Concord Country Club, was the odd man out and is the first alternate.
Mayne took out a membership at LedgeRock specifically so he could compete in GAP senior events and that immediately paid off when he won the Brewer Cup last month.
It wasn’t necessary for Lutz to play his home course to earn a trip to the 2017 U.S. Senior Amateur. Pretty sure he’s exempt on a number of criteria, most notably that U.S. Senior Amateur victory at Hidden Creek in 2015.
In an area that boasts so much senior golf talent – amateur, professional, men, women, you name it – Lutz might be the best of them all.