WALLINGFORD, Pa. — Thomas Bartolacci, Jr. convinced good friend and golf compatriot Bert Kosup to participate in the Frank H. Chapman Memorial Cup (Gross) at The Springhaven Club (par 70, 6,411 yards) Monday. He’s glad that he did.
Well, sort of.
Playing the same group, both Bartolacci and Kosup carded 1-over-par 71s in regulation to finish tied atop the Senior Division leaderboard. The latter, who plays out of The Ridge at Back Brook, then defeated his persuasive pal in a sudden-death playoff to prevail.
“I wouldn’t be here if Tommy didn’t insist that I get involved with the Golf Association of Philadelphia and play in some of these events, so I have to thank him,” Kosup, 59, of Flemington, N.J., said. “I had a chance to play with two really good guys today [Bartolacci and Roc Irey of Lookaway Golf Club], so when you play with them, your head’s in the game and you’re thinking about every shot. It’s so special to win considering the quality of players in the field. To win in your first time out like this is so special, but it’s golf. It’s a crazy game.”
“I lost to a good friend,” Bartolacci, 63, of Washington Crossing, Pa., said. “Honestly, all I had to do was two-putt the first playoff hole. He hit a heck of a shot. I’m happy for him. He’s a really good player. It was a lot of fun.”
On the aforementioned No. 1 (par 4, 418 yards), Bartolacci reached the green in regulation while Kosup steered his drive into the right tree-line. Cue the spectacular second shot from the latter.
“It was up against the root of a tree, but the tree was kind of cut up so I could get a swing at it,” Kosup said. “I hit a 4-iron right where I wanted to hit it; it just didn’t end up on the green.”
After Bartolacci and Kosup essentially halved the first playoff hole with bogeys, both hammered identical drives on No. 8 (par 5, 515 yards). Bartolacci attempted to snipe a 3-wood around a corner on the dogleg left, but flushed it right and stood blocked out by a pine tree for his third shot. Kosup reached the green in regulation; Bartolacci attempted to flight his approach over the imposing obstacle, only to watch it deflect off the bark. A Kosup two-putt prompted a handshake and a hug among buddies. The two traveled to and from The Sprinhaven together as well.
“We’ve been friends for a long, long time,” Kosup said. “I’m sure that he’s disappointed. I would be disappointed if it turned out differently or had gone the other way. We always rival playing against other each other. We go on trips together. We’re friends not only on the golf course, but afterwards as well.”
Both Bartolacci and Kosup posted subpar scores on their inward tours to climb the leaderboard. The two fired birdies on No. 10 (par 4, 424 yards) with a pair of 5-irons 15 and 12 feet, respectively. On No 12 (par 5, 513 yards), Kosup drilled a 7-iron 152 yards to 15 feet for a 4. Bartolacci hit an 8-iron 140 yards to six feet and dropped the ensuing downhill putt on No. 18 (par 4, 377 yards). Kosup missed a 12-footer to match his friend’s 3 after knocking an 8-iron from 140 yards.
Success isn’t entirely evasive for Bartolacci at The Springhaven. He captured his first Senior Amateur Championship in 2008 on the track.
“The Springhaven’s a tough little golf course,” Bartolacci, the reigning Senior Amateur titleholder, said. “There are a lot of double bogeys out there if you don’t hit it straight. The fairways are tough. They’re almost like clay, so you really need to catch your club. I’ll take 71 playing here anytime.”
Kosup retired from Johnson & Johnson in December 2013 after spending 30 years in its sales and marketing department. With business on the backburner, he hopes to increase his competitive golf schedule. Kosup is a member of the Rutgers Athletics Hall of Fame. He played quarterback on the school’s football team from 1973-76 and led the Scarlet Knights to a perfect season in 1976.
Curt Fromal of the host club drained a 35-footer for birdie on No. 1 (par 4, 405 yards) to defeat Chester Valley Golf Club’s Thomas O’Rourke for the event’s Super-Senior title. Playing the same group in regulation, both players filed respective 3-over-par 73s. Jericho National Golf Club’s Richard Speranza, a Golf Association of Philadelphia Magazine Player to Watch in 2014, also finished at 73, but was unavailable for the playoff.
“It’s kind of crazy. It’s been a long while,” Fromal, 73, of Folsom, Pa., said. “I haven’t played in many GAP tournaments lately. I had a hip replacement and I wasn’t playing very well. Everything just happened to fall in place today, for some reason.”
“Curt played so well all day long,” O’Rourke, 70, of Malvern, Pa., said. “He made two chip-in birdies, which we’re really hard to beat. I had no birdies, just three bogeys. I felt good. I hit it solid all day long. Curt and I both finished ahead of a lot of great players, and that’s satisfying. It makes you want to come back out and do it again.”
The aforementioned chip-ins essentially brought Fromal into the fold. He holed an l-wedge from the left greenside bunker on No. 18 (par 4, 363 yards) for a 3, and No. 1 (par 4, 405 yards), deposited a wedge from 10 yards after nearly reaching the putting surface with a 5-wood. The same club, this time from 185 yards, set Fromal up for his triumphant birdie. In the playoff, O’Rourke, too, found the fairway, but a heavy approach spelled trouble.
“I just chunked it, and then I tried to hit 6-iron, and I hit it to six or seven feet, which I thought I could make,” O’Rourke said. “I didn’t have to.”
Fromal secured his first piece of Super-Senior hardware, the Division’s Silver Cross Award, in 2008 on his home course. His second comes at the same site.
“I’m starting to feel healthy now and play a little better,” Fromal said. “This is a confidence builder.”
Frank H. Chapman, a Whitemarsh Valley Country Club member, served as the Association’s secretary-treasurer for 23 years. He died on June 7, 1955 at the age of 88. The Gross tournament, now in its eighth year, is held in his honor.
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