MOHNTON, Pa. - At the start of this week, the field for the 12th Senior Match Play Championship knew that Sean Knapp would be the player to beat. After all, he proved his match play skills by winning last year's USGA Senior Amateur title, capturing six match victories en route to that crown. On Wednesday, he picked up where he left off in that event, winning his opening two matches to advance to the semifinals at LedgeRock Golf Club in the championship, which is presented by LECOM.
In the Super Senior division, three-time defending champion Dave DeNezza's dream of a four-peat is over, while top seed Don Donatoni advanced to the semifinals. Here's a look at Thursday's semifinals and how each competitor advanced.
Sean Knapp (1) vs. Scott Mayne (5)
Knapp, a PAGA Individual Member, was the top seed in the senior division. He started his day on Wednesday with a 2 and 1 victory over 16th seed Ron Weaver of Bent Creek Country Club. In the afternoon round, Knapp took on 9th seed Doug Fedoryshyn of Applebrook Golf Club. Knapp used a strong close to the front nine, with three consecutive birdies, to close out Fedoryshyn, 5 and 4.
Mayne, like Knapp, squeaked into the quarterfinals with a 2 and 1 win in his first match, over Byron Whitman of the Philadelphia Publinks. In the next round, the home club hopeful topped Lookaway Golf Club's Roc Irey, 5 and 3, to move on for his Thursday match against Knapp.
David Brown (2) vs. Ed Podufal (3)
The event's defending champion, Brown is in a good position to repeat after edging Lehigh Country Club's Bob Beck, 3 and 1, and Overbrook Golf Club's Oscar Mestre, 2 and 1, to return to the semifinals. The St. Clair Country Club standout will face Podufal on Thursday morning at 8:30.
Podufal, meanwhile, topped 14 seed Joe Corsi, 5 and 3 in his first match of the day. The Kahkwa Club golfer then repeated that margin in a win over Moselem Springs Golf Club's Thomas Hyland, setting up his chance to dethrone Brown on Thursday.
Super Senior Division
Don Donatoni (1) vs. Don Erickson, III (5)
The Associatoin's reigning Super Senior Player of the Year, Donatoni cruised to the semifinals. The White Manor Country Club standout beat LedgeRock's own John Broadbent, Jr., 7 and 6, in his morning round before topping Butler Country Club's William Wigton, 6 and 5, to move on to the semifinals.
He will face Erickson, of Indiana Country Club, who advanced by first defeating West Shore Country Club's Rick Scott, 1 up, and then beat Saucon Valley Country Club's Robin McCool, again 1 up.
Vincent Zachetti (10) vs. Thomas Bartolacci, Jr. (6)
The bottom half of the Super Senior bracket featured both DeNezza, the three-time defending champion, and Paul Schlachter, who has proven his ability as a five-time winner of the senior division. But neither advanced to the semifinals. Zachetti, of Hannastown Golf Club, beat Ed Chylinski, 1 up, before facing Schlachter. Down three on the front nine, Zachetti rallied and won the final two holes of the match to advance, 1 up.
Bartolacci moved past James Prendergast of Spring Ford Country Club, 6 and 4, to advance to the quarterfinals against DeNezza. Barttolacci used birdies on holes 8 and 9 to move to 1-up at the turn. A DeNezza birdie on No. 12 squared the match, and then Bartolacci took the lead with a birdie on No. 15. The defending champion needed to win the last hole to tie the match and force extras, but it wasn't to be, as Bartloacci won the hole to capture the match, 2 up.