MOHTNON, Pa. (July 10, 2012) — Two of Saucon Valley Country Club’s elder statesmen are conducting successful campaigns in the Golf Association of Philadelphia’s 5th Brewer Cup. Thomas Bartolacci, Jr. and Joe Viechnicki, friends and clubmates of 10 years, advanced to the Senior Division semifinals Tuesday at LedgeRock Golf Club (par 72, 6,692 yards). Both now stand one win away from a potential meeting for the illustrious trophy.
“We play a lot of golf together,” Viechnicki, 59, of Bethlehem, Pa., said. “It’s usually Tommy who beats me, day in and day out. He’s so solid. That would be a great Final. It’d be fun and competitive.”
“It’s not easy to qualify. You have to play a pretty good round because it’s only 16 guys,” Bartolacci, 61, of Washington Crossing, Pa., said. “To be able to play in tournaments like this one (with O. Gordon Brewer, Jr.’s name on it) and potentially win one is pretty special. I have a long way to go.”
Bartolacci will face Michael Domenick of Phoenixville Country Club, who edged Frank Rutan, IV of Philadelphia Cricket Club, the Association’s President, 2&1, to advance. Viechnicki opposes Marlin Detweiler of Lancaster Country Club, who defeated Donald Ashley of Philadelphia Country Club, 3&2. The semifinals begin at 8 a.m. tomorrow.
Bartolacci continues to wear his No. 1 seed badge honorably. He knocked off Buck Jones of Philadelphia Publinks GA, 3&2, in the quarterfinals.
Early endings in the Round of 16 left both fighters fresh. Bartolacci defeated No. 16 seed Arthur Kania, Jr. of Merion Golf Club after Kania withdrew due to injury. Jones posted a victory over Richard Umani of Honeybrook Golf Club, who experienced car failure on the way to LedgeRock and couldn’t make the match’s appointed tee time, thus receiving a disqualification.
Bartolacci gained command immediately in his match against with a birdie on No. 1 (par 4, 381 yards), knocking a 9-iron 135 yards to eight feet. He added a second red figure on the par 4, 323-yard No. 3 to build a 2-up advantage. Bartolacci stopped a 70-yard wedge at two feet.
“I had a nice cushion [to build on] because you know you’re going to make some mistakes,” Bartolacci said.
A Jones’ double bogey on the par 4, 397-yard No. 6 allowed Bartolacci to pad that cushion. Jones, 61, of Collegeville, Pa., flew the green with a 3-hybrid from 182 yards. A 20-footer for birdie on No. 9 (par 4, 369 yards) and a Jones’ bogey on No. 10 (par 3, 188 yards) gave Bartolacci a 5-up lead. Jones attempted to rally with victories on Nos. 14 (par 3, 169 yards) and 15 (par par 4, 450 yards), but hole-halving putts on No. 16 quelled any hope.
“I’m really hitting my irons well, and I hope it stays that way tomorrow,” Bartolacci, a 2009 Brewer Cup semifinalist, said. “I’ve been in a pretty good rhythm the past couple days, and my irons are sharp.”
Bartolacci is technically the tournament’s top seed, but Viechnicki is performing like its monarch. In his two victories Tuesday, Viechnicki carded the stroke-play equivalent of 5 under, buzzing through Michael Vassil of the Country Club of Scranton, 7&6, and Roc Irey of Lookaway Golf Club, 6&4.
“All week, my lag putting has been spot-on,” Viechnicki said. “I’ve three-putted one time. The pace of my putts has been great.”
The virulent Viechnicki used three consecutive birdies to cruise past Irey. He smashed a 7-iron 160 yards to 45 feet above the No. 7 (par 5, 585 yards) flagstick and faced a birdie putt he’d seen a day earlier.
“I knew what the read was, and it dove right into the hole,” Viechnicki said.
Viechnicki nearly reached the par 5, 536-yard No. 8 green in two strokes. A 30-yard chip stopped four feet from the jar for birdie No. 2. Viechnicki continued to dazzle on No. 9 (par 4, 369 yards). After narrowly missing the front right bunker with a 140-yard 8-iron shot, he holed a chip for a 3 and a 3-up lead. Viechnicki eased a wedge 51 yards to six feet on No. 13 (par 5, 554 yards) for a conceded 4 after Irey committed a double-hit infraction. Irey missed the par 3, 169-yard 14th green off the tee and subsequently congratulated Viechnicki.