Brown Bests Field to Win Art Wall
PITTSBURGH, Pa. - Heading into the 18th hole of Wednesday's final round of the 13th Art Wall, Jr. Memorial Championship at Chartiers Country Club, Dan Brown didn't know where he was on the leaderboard. He promptly stepped to the tee and smashed a perfect drive, eventually making birdie to move to even par overall with a score of 140 and cruise to a four-shot win in the championship, which was presented by LECOM.
"That was my best drive in two days," said Brown, who plays out of the Pine Meadows Golf Complex in Lebanon. "It was nice to finish in style there."
The event is for golfers 40 and over. It was the 51-year old Brown's first Art Wall title, and he led nearly wire to wire. Brown shared at least a tie for the lead throughout the second round. After an opening round of 69, he was paired with co-leader Alex Urrea of The Club at Nevillewood and home course hopeful Erik Bertrand, who was two shots behind them after a first round 71. But Bertrand quickly tied for the lead with a birdie on the first hole, while Brown and Urrea made bogey. Brown moved into the lead for good after a birdie on the 363-yard par 4 second hole. Making it even more important was that Urrea and Bertrand each struggled and carded triple bogey there, creating a big four-shot swing.
The course was playing very difficult. Prior to this week, Brown had never played the Willie Park design, and decided to just grip it and rip it.
"To say this place is firm and fast would be an understatement," Brown said. "I decided to pretty much just hit driver everywhere, and thankfully, I was hitting it down the middle for the most part for two days in a row."
As the final pairing headed to the back nine, Brown held a three-shot lead over Bertrand. That margin was still intact when the group approached the 348-yard 13th hole. Both players hit good approach shots, but Brown was away and had the first try at birdie. He sank it to move to even par for the championship, and then watched as Bertrand failed to convert his own short birdie try. Then on the following hole, the par-4 14th, Brown tried the safe play but it backfired.
"I just wanted to cozy it down there toward the hole, and I cozied it short," Brown said of his approach shot. "And then of course I missed the next putt."
Bertrand converted a nice approach shot into a solid par, and the lead was again at three strokes. But a series of pars the rest of the way for Bertrand and the closing birdie for Brown clinched the four-shot final margin of victory.
"I had no expectations here this week," Brown said. "It just turned out that I hit the ball pretty well and I was able to bring it home."
Bertrand finished in second place at 144 (+4), an impressive effort at his home club. Huntsville Golf Club's Todd Vonderheid rallied back from an opening round of 76 to post the lowest score on day two, a 70, vaulting him into third place for the championship at 146. Tying for fourth were Summit Country Club's Stephen DeStefano and Diamond Run Golf Club's John Rodney at 147.
John Rodney of Diamond Run Golf Club fired a second round 72 to come from behind and claim the Senior Division crown. Rodney's total of 147 (+7) edged out Lancaster Country Club's Ken Phillips, who followed up Tuesday's 72 (+2) with a 77 on Wednesday. Ed Podufal of The Kahkwa Club came in third in the division with rounds of 74-76 (+10). Rounding out the top five were PAGA Individual Member Joe Corsi (+11) and Applebrook Golf Club's Doug Fedoryshyn (+12). Rodney's round was punctuated with a hole out for birdie from a greenside bunker on No. 17. Rodney did his damage to Chartiers CC on three holes - No. 2, No. 4 and No. 17. He birdied all three holes in both rounds, representating the totality of his six birdies in the championship.
The Pennsylvania Golf Association would like to thank the staff and membership of Chartiers Country Club for their support and hospitality during the event.