MOHNTON, PA (August 11, 2016) -- It took 28 holes for Thomas Bartolacci, Jr. and Glenn Smeraglio to win their first Golf Association of Philadelphia better-ball tournament. They only needed 18 Thursday, leaving little doubt along the way.
Bartolacci and Smeraglio carded a 8-under-par 64 to win the 57th Senior Four-Ball Stroke Play at a sweltering LedgeRock Golf Club (par 72, 6,372 yards). They captured the Four-Ball Stroke Play Championship in 2010, defeating John LeBoeuf and Cory Reighard in a sudden-death playoff that lasted 10 holes, into the darkness, at Doylestown Country Club.
“It was less stressful [than 2010],” Bartolacci, 65, of Washington Crossing, Pa., said. “We had a feeling that we had a lead, but you never know. It was a lot of fun. I haven’t played with Glennie in a long time.”
“It was good, solid play by both guys,” Smeraglio, 56, of Newtown, Pa., added. “We were in the hole mostly all day. We had a 30 on the front with four birdies and an eagle. It was good to get out in front. [Playing partners Joseph Russo and Mark Walker, the 2013 titleholders] were keeping pace. They were there pushing us.” Russo and Walker finished second at 66.
Bartolacci, a Saucon Valley Country Club member, accounted for half of the team’s outward birdies. On No. 2 (par 3, 147 yards), he stuffed a 7-iron to a foot. Bartolacci dropped a 10-footer on No. 9 (par 4, 338 yards) following a wedge from 85 yards. The conversion capped an impressive three-hole stretch. Smeraglio’s length bred red on the preceding par 5s. He smashed an 8-iron 172 yards to four feet for an eagle on No. 8 (509 yards). With his golf ball in a divot on No. 7 (560 yards), he knocked a 9-iron 132 yards to 15 feet.
“I was complaining about [the divot] the whole time. The guys were complaining that I was whining,” Smeraglio, who won the Francis B. Warner Cup (Gross) earlier this season, said. “I hit a good shot and made the putt. It was a big to-do.”
Bartolacci moved the team to 7 under with a birdie on the 12th hole (par 4, 253 yards). He grooved a wedge 50 yards to 15 feet. Bartolacci resisted temptation on the gettable 16th hole (par 4, 286 yards), finding the fairway with a 3-wood. His 60-yard pitch stopped inches from the cup.
Both Bartolacci and Smeraglio earned hardware the last time they set foot on LedgeRock. In 2012, Bartolacci captured the Senior Division title in the Brewer Cup. Smeraglio, representing Commonwealth National Golf Club at the time, celebrated a Team Championship victory.
“It’s a nice golf course,” Bartolacci said. “I played pretty well for me today. It was a team effort.”
“We always joke around,” Smeraglio, a Lu Lu Country Club member, added. “We’ve played together for a million years. It’s always fun.”
The Bartolacci and Smeraglio team almost never came to be Thursday. The former originally solicited the Association’s six-time reigning Senior Player of the Year.
“(Chip) Lutz turned me down,” Bartolacci, a two-time Senior Amateur Champion (2008, 2013), said. “Earlier this year, I said, ‘[The Senior Four-Ball Stroke Play] is at your club. I don’t have too many tournaments left.’ He said, ‘I think I’m exempt for the U.S. Senior Open.’ I said, ‘So?’ I called Glennie after that.”
SUPER SENIOR DIVISION
Champions heading in, champions heading out.
White Manor Country Club’s Don Donatoni and Merion Golf Club’s Carl Everett successfully defended their Super-Senior (par 72, 5,833 yards) title. The two carded a 5-under-par 67 to prevail.
“I couldn’t make a putt all day, and Carl played beautifully during that stretch,” Donatoni, 68, of Malvern, Pa., said.
“I had my usual couple of hiccups, but fortunately Don was there,” Everett, 69, of Harleysville, Pa., added. “All year-round it seems like I’ve screwed up rounds with not just one or two double bogey type things, but worse than that.”
Everett didn’t fumble Thursday. He directed the team’s subpar round with a chip-in birdie on the first hole (No. 1, par 4, 346 yards) from greenside right. He reached the par 5, 499-yard No. 8 in two strokes with a 5-iron. Everett ran his eagle attempt six feet by and converted the comebacker.
“I’ve been trying to ween myself away from claw putting,” he said. “I was going to try regular. I stood over the putt and I finally chickened out. I went back to the claw and made it.”
Everett also made a 10-footer for birdie on No. 14 (par 3, 156 yards) following a picturesque 5-iron. Donatoni inked red of his own on No. 16 (par 4, 250 yards), sending a drive into the right greenside bunker and splashing out to a foot. A two-putt birdie from 30 feet on the 18th hole (par 5, 525 yards) brought the team to 5 under.
Donatoni qualified for the U.S. Senior Amateur three years ago at LedgeRock.
“This course sets up well for me,” Donatoni, the three-time reigning Super-Senior Player of the Year, said. “It is up and down, so you really have to take the terrain into account for each shot. With little wind today, the greens were receptive. You could go flag hunting.”
The Donatoni and Everett team won the Senior 27-Hole Challenge in 2008 (Senior Division) and 2014 (Super-Senior).
View results for Philadelphia Senior Four-Ball Stroke Play Championship