Three-Peat for DeNezza at Super-Senior Match Play
Dave DeNezza poses with his third straight Champion crystal
LEBANON, Pa. - The historic Lebanon Country Club could have passed for Hannastown Golf Club today, as a pair of HGC golfers battled it out in the sixth iteration of the Super-Senior bracket at the Pennsylvania Senior Match Play Championship. In the end, it was Dave DeNezza who prevailed over Mike McGuire, 3 and 1, to claim his third consecutive championship in the event, which was presented by LECOM and Pinnacle Health.
"It was a tough course and a tough field, and it's always a little uncomfortable playing against your friends," DeNezza said. "But someone has to win, and luckily it was me."
DeNezza claimed the crown out of a field of 16 Super-Seniors, winning a pair of matches on both Wednesday and Thursday at the near 100-year old Alexander Findlay design. Coming in as the 15th seed, DeNezza topped Indiana Country Club's Lee Lykens, 2 and 1, and Buck Jones, of the Philadelphia Publinks, 1 up, to advance to Thursday's semifinals. He squeaked by White Manor Country Club's Don Donatoni, 1 up, in the morning round to advance to the finals against his clubmate, McGuire. In that semifinal match, DeNezza dropped the first three holes before settling down, yet still trailed by three at the turn. But consecutive wins on No. 10 and No. 11 got him closer to Donatoni. After making bogey on the par-3 12th hole, DeNezza was again down two. But he stormed back to win three consecutive holes to take his first lead of the match after No. 15.
But Donatoni was not done yet. The reigning Golf Association of Philadelphia Super-Senior Player of the Year made par against a bogey by DeNezza to equal the match heading into No. 17, a short 273-yard par 4. However, Donatoni bogeyed the 17th to put DeNezza ahead again, and a pair on 18 clinched the halve and a spot in the final for the third consecutive year.
In that final match, DeNezza parred the first hole while McGuire made bogey. The men matched scores on the next four holes, including dueling birdies on No. 3, before DeNezza birdied the sixth hole to go 2-up. McGuire battled back with a birdie on the par-3 ninth to get within one. A bogey by McGuire on No. 11 gave DeNezza a two-hole lead again, and the players halved the next five holes. Dormie heading into the 17th, DeNezza birdied to clinch the win and the three-peat.
"I was fortunate to get a lead and hold onto it in the final," DeNezza said. "I hit some good shots and got some lucky breaks. In match play, we just try to survive, and I was able to do that today."
For McGuire, he knew the challenge he faced with a past champion like DeNezza.
"Dave's just a bulldog in match play," McGuire said. He won the first hole and then I could never really get anything going. You need to have your 'A' game going against him and today I didn't have mine. He's a true tournament player and a worthy champ."
A worthy champ indeed, as DeNezza joined an exclusive list of golfers to win a Pennsylvania Golf Association individual event in three consecutive years. That list includes Arnie Cutrell (Art Wall, Jr. Memorial - 2014-16), R. Jay Sigel (Amateur Championship - 1972-76), Max Marston (Amateur Championship - 1921-23), Mike Phillips (Junior Championship - 1970-72), Scott Schellenberger (Dressler Memorial - 1990-92) and Wayne Jacobs (Dressler Memorial - 1967-69).
The Pennsylvania Golf Association would like to thank the staff and membership of Lebanon Country Club for their support and hospitality during the event.