Brown, Knapp and Jones Win at Art Wall
FLEETWOOD, Pa. – While the 2020 Pennsylvania Golf Association season was certainly unique due to the challenge of running championships during a global pandemic, the final men’s event of the year, the Art Wall, Jr. Memorial, certainly had a familiar feel. Michael Brown, Jr. shot rounds of 68-67 for a 36-hole total of 5-under par 135 at Moselem Springs Golf Club to win for the second straight year in the event, which was presented by DICK’S Sporting Goods.
"I was able to keep the ball in front of me and hit all but just a few greens over the two days," said Brown.
Brown, of LuLu Country Club, was tied for the lead after a 68 (-2) in Monday’s opening round, along with Kevin Fajt and Rick Stimmel. But after nine holes on Tuesday, it looked like Brown was going to run away with the title. He fired a front nine score of 3-under par 32, while Fajt (+2) and Stimmel (E) were struggling to keep up. But Fajt, of Hannastown Golf Club, rallied with early birdies on the back side at No. 10 and No. 12.
"I don't normally plan to look at the leaderboard, but I did hear some conversations about what was going on," Brown said.
As the final group headed to the 15th tee, Brown was coming off a bogey and was at 5-under for the championship, while Fajt was -1 and Stimmel was at even par. But Brown made another bogey on the par-3 15th, while Fajt made birdie to cut the lead in half. And then on the 16th, Fajt rolled in his fourth birdie of the back nine while Brown made par. With just two holes remaining, Brown’s lead was just one stroke.
But Fajt bogeyed 17 to give Brown a two-shot cushion. On the final hole, Brown hit 3-wood to 159 yards out, then dropped an 8-iron approach about 30 feet from the pin. Knowing he had three putts to win, Brown played about four feet of break and just tried to lag it close, but the putt ended up rolling in for the closing birdie and the three-shot win.
Of the birdies that Brown made on Tuesday, that was the lone longer putt, as exceptional wedge play left him short opportunities that he converted three times on the front nine and also on No. 12.
"My wedge play was really good the past two days," Brown said. "I paid more attention to my wedges this year and it has paid off."
Brown’s consistency was a key in the two days at Moselem Springs, a George Fazio par-70 design. He had eight birdies and just three bogeys over the 36 holes.
"I love playing here," said Brown of Moselem Springs. "The conditions are always good and it's a nice mix of holes. You've got to think your way around that course because the greens are pretty challenging."
Brown, who won last year’s Art Wall at the Country Club of Scranton, added a second PAGA win in 2020 as he also captured the Pennsylvania Amateur at Lookaway Golf Club earlier in the summer. Fajt finished three shots back at 138 (-2), while Stimmel came in third at even par 140. With that finish, Stimmel finished the year at the top of the PAGA’s W.C. Fownes, Jr. Amateur Player of the Year points list.
In the Senior division, Sean Knapp of Hannastown Golf Club won his 20th PAGA event, outlasting good friend David Brown of St. Clair Country Club to win with a two-round total of even par 140, highlighted by a second round 67. After an uncharacteristic opening round with no red numbers and even a double bogey on the par-4 10th, Tuesday’s second round was more of what PAGA competitors have come to expect of Knapp. He had four birdies against just one bogey to claw back to even par for the clubhouse lead.
"The first day, I just felt like I was trying to bide my time but I couldn't make any putts," Knapp said. "It's a very difficult course and it's tough to score."
Knapp's final birdies came on the 16th and 17th holes. On No. 16, he had just two feet for birdie and converted that, but on the 17th, he found himself about 36 feet away with the ball somewhat under the hole but a putt that still needed to navigate a bit of a downhill portion, too.
"That was a heck of a pin placement," said Knapp of the 17th. "I didn't think I got it there but it went in."
But even after those birdies and a par on 18, Knapp had to wait and see what happened with Brown, who was playing in the group behind him. Brown, who Knapp teamed with to win the PAGA Senior Better-Ball championship earlier this year, balanced an early birdie on No. 2 with a bogey on the 12th but otherwise had a clean card and a one-stroke advantage heading to the 18th hole. Unfortunately, his approach shot on 18 clipped a tree and went into the water, and he made a double bogey there to post a 36-hole score of 141 (+1), giving Knapp yet another win in his legendary Pennsylvania golf career.
"You never want to win that way," Knapp said.
Finishing in third place in the Senior division was Lehigh Country Club’s Bob Beck, who posted rounds of 70-72 for a 2-over par total. With the win, Knapp clinched the top spot in the Senior Player of the Year standings.
The Super-Senior division couldn’t be decided after 36 holes, as Buck Jones of Philadelphia Publinks and Gary Daniels of Applebrook Golf Club were tied at 150 (+10). After both parred by first playoff hole (No. 1), they moved to Moselem’s second hole, where Jones, for the third time in two days, made a birdie, this time to clinch the win. Jones used rounds of 74-76 to get into the playoff.
“I had two pretty similar rounds,” Jones said. “I hit it well both days, and here it’s just a matter of where you hit it on the greens.”
Finishing in third place in the Super-Senior division was Vince Zachetti of Hannastown Golf Club, two shots back at 152 (+12). Indiana Country Club’s Lee Lykens finished tied for eighth and ends the year tied with Zachetti at the top of the Super-Senior Player of the Year points list.
The Pennsylvania Golf Association would like to thank the staff and membership of Moselem Springs GC for the hospitality in hosting the championship. Special thanks as well go out to DICK’S Sporting Goods for sponsorship of the event.