Senior winner David Brown
LEBANON, PA (May 11, 2017) - On a chilly afternoon with a steady rainfall coming down, David Brown and Ken Phillips were locked in a tight duel in the championship match of the Pennsylvania Senior Match Play at Lebanon Country Club. Through 12 holes, the match was all square. But Brown made a birdie on 13, par on the 14th and followed with two great up and downs to pull away and win the 11th running of the championship, which was presented by LECOM and Pinnacle Health.
"This was a great match play course," Brown said."There are some severe greens and if you get on the wrong side, there's nothing you can do except take your bogey and move on. So I'm thrilled to win this championship at a course like this."
Brown moved ahead for good on the 13th hole, knocking his approach on the 364-yard par 4 to just three feet. He converted the birdie to move to 1-up. That was followed with a solid par on 14 that Phillips couldn't match. Then on the par-5 15th hole, Brown summoned a little up and down magic to keep his two hole lead.
"I was over the green and took a full swing with a 60-degree [wedge]," Brown said. "It landed softly and I was able to make par there."
Brown followed that with another up and down on 16, his play impressing his challenger throughout the afternoon.
"He is a great player," Phillips said of Brown. "I actually played well. I hit a couple of wedges out of the wet rough that I didn't negotiate very well. I wish I would have played a little better but Dave played very well."
Brown followed the pair of up and downs and closed out Phillips, a Lancaster Country Club member, on the ensuing hole, the par 4 17th.
"My putter felt a little bit better in the last couple of days," said Brown, who plays out of Champion Lakes Golf Club. "I think that was a key for me this week."
To get to the final match, both Brown and Phillips survived matches against some of the top senior amateur players in the commonwealth. Phillips, who entered the event as the fourth seed, topped Merion Golf Club's Kirk Luntey, 3 and 1, on Tuesday morning before coming back in the afternoon to edge Ed Chylinski of Chester Valley Golf Club, 1 up. Phillips then beat top-seeded Scott Mayne of Deer Run Golf Club, 2 up, to advance to the final.
"They were good matches, every one of them," Phillips said. "Kirk and I played a close match. Then Ed - he hits it so solid. He's an unbelievable player. And against Scott, I got off to a quick start, but we were tied through 13. All of my matches were great."
For the eventual champion Brown, he began by winning, 7 and 5, over Indiana Country Club's Don Erickson III, a PAGA stalwart who lost to Chip Lutz in the final in this event in 2012. He then knocked out defending champ and five-time winner of the event, Paul Schlachter, 4 and 3. To advance to the final, Brown beat Saucon Valley Country Club's Thomas Bartolacci, Jr., 2 and 1.
Super Senior Division
The historic Lebanon Country Club could have passed for Hannastown Golf Club today, as a pair of HGC golfers battled it out in the sixth iteration of the Super-Senior bracket at the Pennsylvania Senior Match Play Championship. In the end, it was Dave DeNezza who prevailed over Mike McGuire, 3 and 1, to claim his third consecutive championship in the event, which was presented by LECOM and Pinnacle Health.
"It was a tough course and a tough field, and it's always a little uncomfortable playing against your friends," DeNezza said. "But someone has to win, and luckily it was me."
DeNezza claimed the crown out of a field of 16 Super-Seniors, winning a pair of matches on both Wednesday and Thursday at the near 100-year old Alexander Findlay design. Coming in as the 15th seed, DeNezza topped Indiana Country Club's Lee Lykens, 2 and 1, and Buck Jones, of the Philadelphia Publinks, 1 up, to advance to Thursday's semifinals. He squeaked by White Manor Country Club's Don Donatoni, 1 up, in the morning round to advance to the finals against his clubmate, McGuire. In that semifinal match, DeNezza dropped the first three holes before settling down, yet still trailed by three at the turn. But consecutive wins on No. 10 and No. 11 got him closer to Donatoni. After making bogey on the par-3 12th hole, DeNezza was again down two. But he stormed back to win three consecutive holes to take his first lead of the match after No. 15.
But Donatoni was not done yet. The reigning Golf Association of Philadelphia Super-Senior Player of the Year made par against a bogey by DeNezza to equal the match heading into No. 17, a short 273-yard par 4. However, Donatoni bogeyed the 17th to put DeNezza ahead again, and a pair on 18 clinched the halve and a spot in the final for the third consecutive year.
In that final match, DeNezza parred the first hole while McGuire made bogey. The men matched scores on the next four holes, including dueling birdies on No. 3, before DeNezza birdied the sixth hole to go 2-up. McGuire battled back with a birdie on the par-3 ninth to get within one. A bogey by McGuire on No. 11 gave DeNezza a two-hole lead again, and the players halved the next five holes. Dormie heading into the 17th, DeNezza birdied to clinch the win and the three-peat.
"I was fortunate to get a lead and hold onto it in the final," DeNezza said. "I hit some good shots and got some lucky breaks. In match play, we just try to survive, and I was able to do that today."
For McGuire, he knew the challenge he faced with a past champion like DeNezza.
"Dave's just a bulldog in match play," McGuire said. He won the first hole and then I could never really get anything going. You need to have your 'A' game going against him and today I didn't have mine. He's a tournament player and a worthy champ."
A worthy champ indeed, as DeNezza joined an exclusive list of golfers to win a Pennsylvania Golf Association individual event in three consecutive years. That list includes Arnie Cutrell (Art Wall, Jr. Memorial - 2014-16), R. Jay Sigel (Amateur Championship - 1972-76), Max Marston (Amateur Championship - 1921-23), Mike Phillips (Junior Championship - 1970-72), Scott Schellenberger (Dressler Memorial - 1990-92) and Wayne Jacobs (Dressler Memorial - 1967-69).