Charles McClaskey is looking for a third Brewer Cup title
WAYNE, Pa. — Think of the Super-Senior semifinals in the Brewer Cup presented by Callaway Golf as a political roundtable.
Former mayors in past champions Don Donatoni and Charles McClaskey seated at one end, a pair of tireless candidates in Thomas Humphrey and Carl Everett at the other.
The four contestants kept their campaigns marching Tuesday with quarterfinal victories at a magnificent St. Davids Golf Club (par 70, 5,658 yards). As a result, Humphrey and Everett will meet in the semifinals tomorrow at 8:15 a.m. The Donatoni/McClaskey match is slated for 8:22 a.m.
The Super-Senior Final will follow.
“I am thrilled. I feel as though the way I’m hitting the ball, I can win,” McClaskey, a two-time Brewer Cup Champion (2010-11), said. “Today I was spot-on with driving the golf ball. I think I only hit into the rough one time. That was a good thing.”
McClaskey edged Daniel Burton of Lancaster Country Club in 20 holes to earn a meeting with Donatoni, a three-time Brewer Cup Champion (2013-15). Ten holes into the contest, McClaskey, a Philadelphia Publinks GA member, only missed two greens and created opportunities for seven birdies and an eagle. Such precision stayed afloat, but distance control and judgement went out to sea on Nos. 12-14. The changing tide gave Burton a 1-up advantage. A resilient McClaskey, who’s only made two match play appearances (2012, 2014) since his last Brewer triumph, drew even with a conceded birdie on No. 18 (par 4, 365 yards). He knocked a transition wedge 110 yards to eight feet; Burton, meanwhile, found trouble in the right fairway bunker.
In overtime, McClaskey anchored his semifinal spot with a two-putt par on No. 2 (par 4, 399 yards). His run thus far at St. Davids marks a return to form of sorts for the two-time Super-Senior Player of the Year (2010-11). The last few years left McClaskey searching. During that time, he, in a sense, passed the torch to Donatoni, the Division’s four-time reigning POY.
“Don’s a very good player and a good person,” McClaskey, 78, of Elkton, Md., said. “You have to have confidence in what you’re doing, and he’s that way, too. He’s confident in what he’s done as well. It should be a good match.”
“I’ve played with Charlie enough to know he can still get it out there. He can still pound it,” Donatoni, 69, of Malvern, Pa., said. “If he struggles at all, it’s on the greens. Obviously, Charlie must be putting well. I expect him to putt well tomorrow. I’m just going to put my nose down, look straight ahead and play my game. I’m sure it will be a great match.”
As was Donatoni’s 2&1 quarterfinal win against Robert Billings of Rolling Green Golf Club. Neither combatant held more than a 1-up edge throughout the back-and-forth joust. Billings birdied 115-yard 14th hole, his third on a par 3, to draw even. However, a worn and raspy Donatoni, fending off either a “summer cold or allergies," bagged a two-putt birdie following a 4-hybrid from 170 yards on No. 16 (par 5, 402 yards) to regain the lead. Unfortunately, a par 3 awaited his opponent.
“I’m expecting him to birdie,” Donatoni, a White Manor Country Club member, said. “The wind started to pick up in our face. I took an extra club and thank God I did. I hit 8-iron and carried the bunker on the left. Bob hit his 8-iron and it kind of ballooned on him and fell in the bunker.”
Billings failed to execute a sand save; two putts meant a Donatoni win.
The upper half of the bracket pits a pair of prizefighters seeking a Super-Senior statement. Humphrey, the No. 1 seed, upended reigning Warner Cup (Gross) winner Buck Jones of Philadelphia Publinks GA, 2&1, to gain the semifinals. A steady stream of “good shots” afforded an early lead. Mid-match meddling complicated matters. Humphrey, a Wilmington Country Club member, reset with an eagle on the par 5, 501-yard 11th hole. He launched a hybrid 220 yards to 20 feet above the hole location and snaked in a slippery, left-to-right downhiller.
“I was on the ropes there. I was kind of out of my shots. That kind of settled me down,” Humphrey, 65, of Chadds Ford, Pa., said. Humphrey reacquired a 1-up edge after Jones sent his tee shot out-of-bounds on the sharp dogleg left 13th hole (par 4, 353 yards) and held on.
This is Humphrey’s fourth Brewer Cup appearance but first as a Super-Senior since becoming eligible this year.
“I hit the ball long enough that I almost feel like I should be playing the Senior tees. I still have distance,” Humphrey said. “But I’m 65 [years old] so I might as well do what I’m supposed to do. There are a lot of good players; that’s kind of why [I decided to play in the Super-Senior Division]. The competition is outstanding. Every match is going to be challenging and difficult.”
Like Humphrey, Everett, a steadfast Brewer Cup participant, started with sizzle, swayed midway and steadied late to prevail Tuesday. He defeated Raymond Pawulich of Little Mill Country Club, 2&1, in the quarterfinals.
“I’ve been practicing a lot and putting a lot of time into my short game, although it doesn’t always show,” Everett, 70, of Harleysville, Pa., said.
On a 2-up “cruise” through five holes, Everett lost the next three to fall into a sudden deficit against Pawulich. On No. 8 (par 5, 427 yards), a massacred drive put the Merion Golf Club member 170 yards from the hole location.
“I laid the sod over that sucker and put it in the big cross bunker. I didn’t get it out on my first attempt,” Everett said. He lost the hole to become 1-down.
A birdie on No. 10 (par 3, 165 yards) allowed the affable Everett to wrestle momentum in his favor. With the greens starting to firm, he flighted a 5-iron that landed on the green’s base and released to 30 feet above the flagstick. Everett then drained a downhiller destined for the fairway if it didn’t crash into the cup.
Everett and Humphrey know one another from excursions in Delaware State Golf Association events. The two share the same semifinal mantra: good shots, good swings.
“I’m just going to try and grind out pars and hope that’s good enough,” Everett, a semifinalist in 2015, said. “I relax more in match play than I do in medal play. I know exactly what I need to do in match play usually. Sometimes it makes you nervous, but you have to do it.”
“At this point in time, it’s another day to test your game in tournament conditions. That’s what I enjoy,” Humphrey, a Senior Division quarterfinalist in 2014, added.
The Brewer Cup, launched in 2008, is named in honor of O. Gordon Brewer Jr., a veteran of 42 USGA Championships and two-time U.S. Senior Amateur Champion (1994, 1996). He also won Golf Association of Philadelphia Amateur titles in 1967 and 1976 as well as the 1997 Senior Amateur Championship, which earned Brewer Player of the Year honors that year. He was inducted into the Golf Association of Philadelphia’s Hall of Fame in 2011.
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