Frank Polizzi wins Philadelphia Super-Senior in playoff
2015 winner Frank Polizzi (GAP photo)
2015 winner Frank Polizzi (GAP photo)

PHILADELPHIA, Pa. — Frank Polizzi of Whitemarsh Valley Country Club parred the second playoff hole to defeat Robert Lodovici of Little Mill Country Club for the 45th Senior Amateur Championship Super-Senior Division title on Wednesday at a demanding Union League Golf Club at Torresdale (par 70, 5,848 yards).

Both players finished the 36 holes at 10-over-par 150. Polizzi carded a closing 76 to pair with a first-round 74. Lodovici posted a 77 after an opening 73. Both players registered three-putt bogeys on the final hole (No. 18, par 4, 348 yards). The two faced 50-foot plus length putts from the front of the long, narrow green that slopes back to front.

“It means a lot,” said Polizzi, 69, of Plymouth Whitemarsh, Pa. “The Delaware Valley is a great place for golf. There are great competitors and you know you are going to have to fight tooth and nail for everything. I’m really proud to do it.

“I turn 70 in January and to hang in there and win this now, I feel really good about it. I think about all the names of the guys that won. There are so many good players here in the Delaware Valley who have won this in the past, to join them I feel great.”

Both players opened the playoff with uphill, lengthy birdie tries on No. 1 (par 4, 321 yards) that ended with pars. On No. 2, Lodovici tugged an 8-iron from 140 yards into the left greenside bunker. Polizzi, who carried the right fairway bunker off the tee, knocked a 9-iron from 125 yards to 12 feet. Lodovici’s bunker shot came out a bit heavy, and he failed to save par from 25 feet. Polizzi, with two putts to win, cozied his birdie attempt to inches. He tapped in for the win.

“I’m thrilled. I didn’t see it coming,” said Polizzi, who won the Pennsylvania Golf Association’s Art Wall, Jr. Super-Senior Division title in 2014. “Only recently have I started to hit the ball better. Yesterday, at the range, I was really hitting the ball solid. That gave me the confidence.”

Amidst another day of oppressive heat, Lodovici, Polizzi and two-time reigning Super-Senior Player of the Year Don Donatoni emerged as frontrunners. Donatoni, 67, of Malvern, Pa., wasn’t himself after slicing the skin webbing between his thumb and index finger while on the practice range. A distracted Donatoni was a bit off, went 5 over on the front side, and lost all chance of making the playoff when his drive found the left trees on No. 18. He finished with a 78 for a 151 total, one shot behind. He later needed five stitches to close the wound.

“I normally warm up with a couple clubs in my hand. I snagged the turf and the turf didn’t give way. The clubs ripped the skin between my thumb and forefinger pretty severely,” said Donatoni, who won this event in 2013 and was the runner-up in 2014. “Everything we tried before the doctor showed up on the ninth tee didn’t work. It was painful. The worst part was the blood, it didn’t stop. It was on my ball, on my cloths, on my hand.”

Dr. David Junkin, a Golf Association of Philadelphia volunteer, administered first aid on that tee.

Lodovici, 65, of Atco, N.J., a Super-Senior rookie, sees Wednesday’s result as a building block for the future.

“I take a lot of confidence going into the rest of the year knowing that I did well,” said Lodovici, who won the 2014-15 Winter Series Senior Net Player of the Year honor. “The past year I was always uncomfortable with myself going into tournaments, playing, and hoping I could do well. Today, I got off to a good start and was confident.”

Polizzi, whose top finish in a Golf Association of Philadelphia Senior event was a runner-up showing in the 2012 Brewer Cup, righted a mid-round balky putter. He pulled five straight putts on holes Nos. 8-11, a stretch in which he went 2 over. He missed two short birdie tries and two tiny par efforts. However, Polizzi settled down and held fast with six straight pars on holes Nos. 11-16. He missed the green left and made bogey on No. 17 (par 3, 196 yards) before heading to the final hole.

Lodovici was a bit more inconsistent, never registering more than two pars in a row.

“The golf course was playing very difficult,” said Lodovici. “It was hard to get the ball in the hole. You could hit greens and be on the wrong side and three putt. It was difficult to get it up-and-down. You going to miss those two and three footers. It’s a hard golf course to score on.”

The average course score for the Super-Senior flight on Day 2 was 81.6, a half a stroke higher than Day 1.

ABOUT THE Philadelphia Senior Amateur

Format: 36-hole individual stroke play over two days.

Eligibility: Open to GAP Member Club golfers who are 55 years of age and over as of the first day of the championship. Players must have a handicap index of 7.0 or lower, super-senior 7.0 or lower handicap index. A Super Senior (65 years of age and older) may play in the "Senior tournament," play to be from the Senior tees.

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