Oscar Mestre (GAP/Twitter photo)
Oscar Mestre didn’t need any extra encouragement. He had the spirit of close friend Ray Thompson, who died unexpectedly at age 67 in November, on his shoulder all day.
Emotional, inspired, and, obviously talented, Mestre, 59, of Overbrook Golf Club, posted a tidy 3-under-par 67 at the par-70 Burlington Country Club on a warm, sunny day to take his first Warner Cup – the opening Senior Division Major of the season.
“It sounds corny to say but I definitely thought about Ray a lot today,” said Mestre who joins two-time winner Thompson on the trophy (2007, 2009). “When I got it to a couple under par I said ‘Ray would be yelling at me to keep it going.’ I got it 4 under (thru 14). I was trying to stay in the moment and not get too ahead of myself or too sentimental or too nervous which are all difficult things to do. I hit the ball as well and as solid as I have in a really long time.”
The victory is Mestre’s second Senior Major victory. He took the 2018 Frank H. Chapman Memorial Cup. He and Thompson are the two-time reigning Senior Four-Ball champions.
“That is super special,” said Mestre of Berwyn, Pa., with a quiver in his voice when asked about being on the same trophy with Thompson. “Super special.”
The senior circuit has reinvigorated Mestre’s GAP career. He is a former Middle-Amateur Championship winner (2002) and multiple¬-time BMW GAP Team Matches victor. Mestre was the Overbrook team captain in 2014 when the first team took the Team Matches titles.
“I think it’s about the comfort level,” said Mestre, who serves as GAP’s Executive Committee Vice President, when asked why about the sudden victory surge. “When I was in my 40s and early 50s, I was playing with the younger guys and there really isn’t much conversation. With the senior guys, I’ve played with and against for so many years it’s about playing with old friends again. Additionally, I’ve kept myself in pretty good physical shape.”
There was a three-way tie for second place with Jeff Allen, Randy Mitchell and Paul Rogowicz all finishing at even-par 70. This was the Senior debut for Rogowicz, who finished runner-up in the 2006 BMW Philadelphia Amateur Championship.
“I was excited and nervous and anxious. I was looking forward to competing with all the guys I’ve competed with before,” said Rogowicz, 55, of Yardley, Pa. “It was great to see everyone again. It was a lot of fun.”
Not even a recent hernia surgery could calm the six-straight Super-Senior Player of the Year’s dominance.
Despite a health setback six weeks ago, White Manor Country Club’s Don Donatoni was back firing on all cylinders Thursday at Burlington Country Club, carding a 3-under 67 to win the super senior division in the Francis B. Warner Cup.
“My first round of the year came last weekend in the [BMW GAP Team Matches], and it was a slow progression coming back from the hernia surgery. I wasn’t sure where my game was at, to be honest, and the recovery involved some loss of strength,” said Donatoni, 71, of Malvern, Pa. “But after today, I can confidently say that my recovery and my golf game are back at 100 percent.”
View results for Francis Warner Cup
ABOUT THE Francis Warner Cup
Format: Eighteen hole individual stroke play.
Eligibility: Open to Senior male golfers, 55 years of
age and older and Super-Senior male golfers, 65
years of age and older. Players must be members of
a Member Club with a USGA Handicap Index of 7.0
or lower. A Super Senior may play in the "Seniors
Tournament," play to be from the Senior Tees.
View Complete Tournament Information