Nicholas Gross dominates to win George Dressler by eight shots
Nicholas Gross (Pennsylvania Golf Association Photo)
Nicholas Gross (Pennsylvania Golf Association Photo)

If anybody doubts Nick Gross’ ability to overcome adversity and Don Donatoni’s even-keeled approach, they can put those thoughts to rest after today’s final round of the Pennsylvania Golf Association’s 83rd George Dressler Memorial Championship Tuesday at LedgeRock Golf Club. Gross ended up doubling his first-day lead to win the Dressler title by eight shots at 14-under over a very solid field of challengers, and Donatoni posted a pair of even-par rounds to win the Super Senior Division title by a shot.

A soon-to-be graduate of Downingtown West High School and headed to Alabama to compete for the Crimson Tide, Gross led by four and five shots, respectively, over veterans Rick Stimmel and Will Smith entering the second round. His day began, well, not so good, as his tee shot on the first hole couldn’t be located, leading to a double bogey while Stimmel birdied, and suddenly, the four-shot lead was just one. But, he proceeded to birdie four of the next seven holes, while Stimmel managed two birdies wrapped around a bogey, and Smith couldn’t muster a birdie, and after the outward nine holes, both of them and the rest of the field was in the rearview mirror.

Gross, playing out of Kennett Square Golf and Country Club, said, “This was a little bit of a get-right before the summer kind of heating up. I had only played twice competitively this year, so I kind of took it easy in the off-season and wanted to play this just to get the game right for some other bigger events but still knowing that this was a good field and the competition was going to be good.”

He's right. The competition was good, with Stimmel, who is ranked No. 18 in the AmateurGolf.com Senior Rankings. Smith, who has some past US Amateur experience, among other successes, and Michael Brown, Jr., a former Pa. Golf Amateur champion from LuLu Country Club, among others.

The winner had seven birdies in his second round following a nine-birdie, one-eagle opening day for a 10-under 62, which tied the course record. Gross quickly nullified his double on one with birdies on holes No. 3, 5, 6, and 8 for a front-nine 34 and added birdies at holes No. 10, 15, and 17 to make the result a no-doubter, finishing at -14.

“I say I came in and now my game is looking good for the rest of the year,” added Gross. “I got back from my last event two weeks ago and didn’t play my best so wanted to make sure I was on top of everything. I talked to my coach and all the guys around me and figured out a couple things that I was doing wrong, made little tweaks and practiced hard trying to get back on top of it…and I think I did.”

Stimmel also had six birdies in his round, but a disastrous 12th hole ended his hopes of earning the overall Dressler title. Smith, meanwhile, never really got on track and posted just one birdie on the day and fell into a tie for sixth place. Brown’s 69 was the day’s second-best round behind the 68 posted by Gross and got him a fourth-place tie with Moselem Spring’s Nick Vecellio, who had two rounds under par to finish 3-under. The host club’s Brock Kovach grabbed third place, shooting even par 72 Tuesday after an opening 4-under 68.

Stimmel’s play would earn him a successful defense of the Senior Division title he first won in 2023. Chip Lutz and William Smith would share second place in the Senior Division at 2-under.

Donatoni used steady play with a pair of even-par 72s to outlast opening-day leader and reigning PAGA Super Senior Player of the Year Brian Rothaus, who went 71-75, and Overlook’s Greg Osborne, who flipped that with a 75-70 finish. Osborne’s 70 on day two was the low round over both days in the division.

The winner matched two bogeys with a pair of birdies on the front. He then birdied number 10 and stayed there, playing the 18th with a two-stroke advantage, where he could afford a three-putt bogey for the victory.

“All I want to say is that the two days we spent at LedgeRock we were blessed with great weather, it was a great golf course, the greens were immaculate. I really enjoyed both days, it was a challenge out there, I knew this was going to be tight from the moment I got here because I knew the players in the field were very strong.”

He continued, “after yesterday I saw who I was paired with I knew if I could stay close to Brian, I might have a chance and it turned out that way. Greg shot a great round and he snuck up on us and I didn’t know where I stood on 18 but I hit two really good shots and my third I was just trying to get it on the green somewhere. I am very proud of the way I played and it is a thrill to win a Pennsylvania Golf Association tournament.”

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ABOUT THE George Dressler Memorial

Formerly a public links tournament, the George Dressler Memorial is a 36 hole stroke play event with Championship (up to age 54), Senior (ages 55-64) and Super Senior (age 65 and older) divisions. There is a simultaneous team event with a best-two-of-three-score format among teams of three players from Pennsylvania Golf Association member clubs.

All players up to age 64 play from the same tees. The Senior Division is paired among the Championship Division

The tournament is named in honor of George Dressler, who was a member of the United States Golf Association's public links committee.

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