MALVERN, Pa. - It's rare that a previous champion of the Senior division of the Pennsylvania Golf Association's 9th Father & Son Championship would elect to play up and compete in the Championship division. But with his son A.J. badgering him for months, Don Donatoni decided to go for it. It's a good thing he did, as the duo fired a 4-under par 66 at Chester Valley Golf Club to win the championship, which was presented by LECOM. The event was shortened from the scheduled 36 holes due to inclement weather.
"I thought this format was conducive to us making birdies," said A.J. Donatoni, of the modified chapman tournament. "We had options most of the time because we both hit it straight. We can compete with anyone from any set of tees if we are doing that."
In that format, both players hit tee shots, then for the second shot, Player A hits Player B's ball and vice versa, and then for the third shot, the players select the ball they'd like to play and play alternately until the ball is holed.
"Under these circumstances, in this kind of format, to not make a bogey is a tribute to the way we played," Don Donatoni said.
A pair of birdies on the second and third holes got the pair started. Heading into No. 6 at 2-under, Don advised A.J. that they needed to navigate the 393-yard par 4 safely to retain their position. But both players missed the green on their second shots, setting up a difficult decision.
"He would have to hit a long chip short of the green or I'd have to hit a bunker shot which was flag high to a short pin," Don Donatoni said. "I ended up hitting a perfect bunker shot and he knocked in the putt and that was a great sign for the day."
Birdies on the par-3 seventh and tenth holes got the Donatonis to 4-under, and that's where they stayed, closing with eight pars to seal the win, despite playing in rainy and windy conditions that forced the cancelation of the second round.
"We played about as well as we could regardless of the weather," said A.J. Donatoni, of Fox Hill Country Club. "We maybe missed four or five greens during the round."
The winning score of 66 was six shots clear of the field. Scott and John McNeil finished second at 2-over par. Ironically, the McNeils topped the Donatonis en route to winning the 2015 Championship division at White Manor Country Club.
The Donatonis are the first pair to win two different divisions in the history of the championship, as they claimed the 2014 Senior division title at Bedford Springs. The event is scheduled to return there next year, giving the Donatonis even more reason to defend their title.
"I guess we'll have to come back next year," Don Donatoni said.
The Association's reigning Super-Senior Player of the Year, Don Donatoni praised the golf course and its staff for the job done to get championship conditions despite the heavy rain and winds that have been in the forecast as of late.
"Considering all of the rain we've gotten, the golf course is in tremendous shape," said Don Donatoni, of White Manor Country Club.
The Senior division was won by Steven Scarpetta and Vincent Scarpetta, Jr., who shot a 70 to win by two strokes. It is the pair's first championship in this event. The Scarpettas bounced back from a double bogey on the opening hole and made five birdies en route to the title.
In the Junior divsion, Gregory and Charlie Hurchalla of The Springhaven Club were crowned champs after posting a score of 86. That is the duo's first win in this event.
On the net side, the Green's and Resuta's shared the Championship division title in a tie at 2-under par. The Senior and Overall Net winners were Robert Jenkins, Jr. and Robert Jenkins, Sr., who shot a net score of 65 (-5). In the Junior Net category, the team of Robert Hall and Alec Stern were tops with a net score of 79 (+9).
The Pennsylvania Golf Association would like to thank the membership and staff of Chester Valley Golf Club for their hospitality during the event.