WILMINGTON, Del.(Sept. 20, 2012) – Presidential duties dulled Mike Vassil's game early in 2012.
The Country Club of Scranton's leader had to deal with a renovation project until July. Thursday at Wilmington Country Club's South Course (par 71, 6,641 yards) Vassil's sharpened talents resulted in the ultimate Senior prize.
Vassil upended the world's top older amateur, Chip Lutz of LedgeRock Golf Club, in a playoff for the 42nd Senior Amateur Championship. Vassil birdied the first playoff hole, No. 10 (par 4, 368 yards), with a sand wedge from 87 yards that stopped five feet from the hole. Lutz made a par. Both players carded 1-under 70s in regulation to force the first Senior Amateur playoff since 1992.
The event was shortened to 18 holes after the week's earlier wet weather cancelled Wednesday's first round.
"It's very satisfying. To win anything in the Golf Association of Philadelphia is special, especially playing someone like Chip Lutz," said Vassil. "It's an honor to be recognized for playing accomplishments in such a strong Association."
Lutz, who secured his third consecutive GAP Senior Player of the Year earlier in the season with a string of powerful performances, was trying to complete the organization's circle of life, so to speak. No player has ever won the Junior Boys', Amateur and Senior.
Francis McFadden of Overbrook Golf Club placed third. McFadden stood at 2 under thru 16 but double bogeyed No. 17 (par 3, 176 yards) when he pulled his 6-iron into the water hazard short and left of the green.
Lutz played in the morning wave and was the first to post his number.
The 57 year old from Reading, Pa. made eight pars and a double bogey on his front nine. His lone miscue was a thinned 7-iron that found the water on No. 5 (par 4, 413 yards). However, Lutz found his groove on the back nine, netting three birdies and six pars. He hit approach shots on Nos. 10 (par 4, 368 yards), 12 (par 4, 375 yards) and 15 (par 4. 369 yards) all within eight feet for birdie 3s.
"I was disappointed to start slow," said Lutz. "I hit a couple of good putts out there that didn't fall. That's the way golf is. I played well on the back to get back in it."
Vassil played in the afternoon and in direct contrast to Lutz, opened with two birdies and seven pars on his front nine (He started on the back side.) The 55 year old from Clarks Summit, Pa. drained a 30 footer on No. 13 (par 3, 183 yards) after hitting the green with a 3-iron for birdie before hitting No. 14 (par 5, 515 yards) in two and registering a 4.
Vassil's front side got ugly quick, though, when he found the bunker on No. 1 (par 4, 421 yards) and then the trees on No. 3 (par 5, 585 yards) for bogeys. However, he rebounded with a birdie on No. 5 (par 4, 413 yards) after knocking a 9-iron from 137 yards to 20 feet before finishing with all pars.
"The duties of the presidency [were] distracting me a fair bit [early in the season]," said Vassil in his first year as Scranton President."We just completed a major renovation program and that wrapped up in July. Since about August I've been playing better."
Vassil's performance also pushed him to the top of the Senior Silver Cross Award standings. He defeated Thomas Bartolacci, Jr. of Saucon Valley Country Club by three strokes. He score was 215.
The Senior Silver Cross is awarded to the player with the lowest aggregate score in the Warner Cup (Gross), Chapman (Gross) and Senior Amateur Championship.
Vassil is the first CC of Scranton member to win either the Senior Amateur or Senior Silver Cross.
O. Gordon Brewer, Jr. of Pine Valley Golf Club methodically navigated Wilmington's South Course (par 71, 6,155 yards) en route to an even-par 71 and one-shot victory over defending Super-Senior Champion John Rowe of Whitemarsh Valley Country Club. It is Brewer's second Super-Senior title. He also won that division's top prize in 2008.
"It's a thrill to win, especially on this golf course," said Brewer, 75, of Pine Valley, N.J. "This is a wonderful course, a real good test of golf. I didn't do anything spectacular. It was, fortunately, a good solid round of golf."
Wilmington has always held a soft spot in Brewer's heart. He qualified for his first U.S. Amateur Championship at Wilmington in 1968.
Brewer opened his round with a pair of birdies, including a holed out bunker shot on No. 1 (par 4, 405 yards) to make the turn at even par. He carded a red circle 3 on No. 11 (par 4, 276 yards) with a lob wedge from 60 yards to five feet, however, a final-hole bogey when he spun his approach shot off the green put Brewer at even.
Brewer finished about two hours before Rowe did.
Rowe stood at 3 under thru 11 holes and apparently in command, but recorded four bogeys in his last seven holes to thwart his repeat bid. Rowe cited the length of the golf course coming home as the reason for his struggles. He just recently had hand surgery.
"The back [nine] just got me. It just played too long for me," said Rowe, 66, of Philadelphia, Pa.
In the Super-Senior Silver Cross race, Charles McClaskey of Back Creek Golf Club and Mike Rose of Talamore Country Club tied with a 223 total. The Super-Senior Silver Cross is awarded to the player with the lowest aggregate score in the Warner Cup (Gross), Chapman (Gross) and Senior Amateur Championship.
An 18-hole playoff for the Super-Senior Silver Cross will be conducted at a time and site to be determined.
View results for Philadelphia Senior Amateur Golf Championship