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Philadelphia Four-Ball: Acierno, Conboy prevail
(Golf Association of Philadelphia)
(Golf Association of Philadelphia)
LAFAYETTE HILL, Pa. (Aug. 6, 2013) — While hitting golf balls at Sandy Run Country Club’s driving range, Tom Conboy, Jr. saw fellow member Paul Acierno walk by and immediately stopped the youngster.

“I said, ‘Hey, how about if we play in this GAP (Golf Association of Philadelphia) event over at Whitemarsh [Valley Country Club]?” Conboy asked.

Without hesitation, Acierno responded, “We’ll go win.”

Sure enough, they did. Acierno and Conboy carded a 4-under-par 68 to capture the 12th Deeg Sezna at Whitemarsh Valley (par 72, 6,526 yards) Tuesday. It marked the duo’s first round of golf alongside one another. Despite the relative unfamiliarity, Conboy, aware of Acierno’s ability as one of Sandy Run’s blossoming juniors, knew what system could lead to success.

“I put him in spots where he could make putts, and he put me in spots where I could get him on the green pretty easily,” Conboy, 54, of Oreland, Pa., said. “He had the putter really working today.”

“I had been struggling lately with making putts in tournaments, but it was good to get it down and keep it going,” Acierno, 19, of Flourtown, Pa., said. “I thought we played real solid golf. We limited our scores on the holes where we did make mistakes.”

Acierno’s putter sparked from the get-go. He rolled in a 15-footer for birdie on No.1 (par 4, 354 yards) following a 77-yard gap wedge set-up from Conboy. The Sandy Run squad posted back-to-back birdies on Nos. 6 (par 4, 343 yards) and 7 (par 4, 412 yards). Conboy executed pitching wedge approaches from 125 yards on each that left his partner with prime looks at red. Acierno sunk a left-to-right slider from eight feet on the first and a 20-footer on the latter. A pair of bogeys prevented a 3 under turn. A hard 9-iron from Conboy on No. 2 (par 4, 408 yards) bounced up the hill and trickled into the back fringe, and the team couldn’t get up-and-down. He and Acierno left their tee shots short of the No. 4 (par 3, 235 yards) green. Acierno nestled a wedge to six feet.

“I hit it almost where I thought I should hit it,” Conboy said of the par putt. “I thought it was going to break right, and it actually went left.”

“It was a caddie misread there,” Acierno, an incoming sophomore at La Salle University, added.

The Sandy Run squad opened its inward tour with a trio of birdies to validate Acierno’s prediction. On No. 10 (par 4, 374 yards), Conboy smacked a sand wedge 72 yards to six feet. Acierno missed the green right on the par 5, 499-yard 11th green with a 3-wood, but Conboy lofted a wedge out of a downhill lie to eight feet. And after Conboy landed his tee shot on No. 12 (par 3, 165 yards) 15 feet from the flagstick, Acierno equipped an 8-iron and rifled it.

“He decided he really didn’t want to make a long putt, so he knocked a shot in there [about two feet],” Conboy said.

“He was already on the green and it took the pressure off me,” Acierno added.

Being Sandy Run members isn’t the only golf commonality between the two. Acierno is working at Whitemarsh Valley as a caddie this summer; Conboy fulfilled the same role in 2009.

“I played 54 holes here in the last three days. It helped a lot,” Acierno said.

“The golf course is in fabulous shape,” Conboy added. “I love what they did to it.”

Given that their first venture out produced gold, perhaps more rounds await the Acierno and Conboy team.

“I’m sure we’ll get out together,” Conboy said. “I’m sure there will be people asking me, ‘can you get him to come and play?”

The Deeg Sezna celebrates the mentorship of the older generation for its younger counterparts. It is named in honor of Davis "Deeg" Sezna, Jr. of Hartefeld National, who lost his life on Sept. 11, 2001 in the attack on the World Trade Center in New York City.

Deeg, an avid golfer long a mentor to his younger brothers Teddy and Willy, and a recent graduate of Vanderbilt University with a degree in economics, was in his sixth day of work on the 104th floor of the South Tower when the terrorists struck.

To memorialize his name, GAP and his father Davis Sezna, Sr. established the Deeg Sezna Four-Ball, pairing a junior player and an older amateur in a better-ball competition, with a minimum age difference of 10 years and the stipulation that the younger player be 21 or younger. The event’s format changed from better-ball to select drive/alternate shot this year.

The goal is to give experienced golfers quality time with the next generation, and vice versa. The age range is 10 to 72.

Founded in 1897, the Golf Association of Philadelphia (GAP) is the oldest regional golf association in the United States and serves as the principal ruling body of amateur golf in its region. Its 143 Member Clubs and 57,000 individual members are spread across parts of Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware and Maryland. As Philadelphia’s Most Trusted Source of Golf Information, the Golf Association of Philadelphia’s mission is to promote, preserve and protect the game of golf.

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