Senior golfers find fountain of youth

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Mark Herrmann Newsday columnist Mark Herrmann

Herrmann has covered the Mets and Yankees since 1988, and has been Newsday’s national golf writer since ...

At 67, Ed Nusblatt was a favorite recently to win the senior club championship at Seawane and he did not disappoint. He also was the medalist and had a hole-in-one in the qualifier for the regular club championship and beat all the young guys to win that too.

At 81, Paul Bonanno is a 19-handicap who plays three times a week, year-round -- winters in Florida, summers with his sons on Long Island. His putting stroke caught fire on Bethpage Yellow August 31, his son Russ said, and Paul shot a 79.

At a time when golf clearly is becoming a young person's game -- a 15-year-old won on the LPGA Tour, a 14-year-old qualified for the men's U.S. Open and six of nine spots from Long Island's U.S. Open qualifier were won by young amateurs, two of them teenagers -- there still is room for the experienced.

Nusblatt has taken lessons from Hank Haney, Sean Foley and other respected teachers. Winning titles at Seawane last week continued a pattern he began when he was captain and Most Valuable Player for the University of Buffalo in the 1960s. He has won Seawane's club championship 11 times over five decades.

He still can hit it long enough to shoot 79 from the back tees in the qualifier, including an ace with a 3-wood, into the wind, on the 214-yard fifth hole.

Bonanno is a natural athlete who played pro baseball and still has a copy of the boxscore from a 1951 exhibition game his El Paso team played against the Yankees (Bonanno went 2-for-3, the same as Joe DiMaggio). Lately, he has been shooting in the 90s.

"He is better than that, but his putting has been a real issue for him. He has tried more different grips than anything. He made every putt this historic day by not looking at the ball once it left his putter. It kept his head steady," Russ said, adding he became emotional when his father two-putted 18 to finish 79 at 81.

 

Winners

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Because of weather, Nick Bova of Friar's Head in Riverhead and Danny Balin of Burning Tree in Connecticut had to come back Friday to finish their sudden-death playoff at the Met PGA Assistants Championship, suspended late Thursday after three holes. Balin, the reigning New York State Open and Met Open champion, birdied the first hole Friday to win. Still it was a big week for Bova, who shot 8 under and qualified for the national assistants' tournament.

Peter Ganley of Wheatley Hills and Lee Ann Lewis of Southward Ho, who had been runners-up four times in the Metropolitan Golf Association / Metropolitan Golf Women's Association Mixed Pinehurst Championship, won the event Thursday with a stress-free 2-under-par 69 at the upstate Tuxedo Club.

 

Ryder Cup at Black would draw a nice crowd

Dustin Johnson, named as a captain's pick this week to the 2012 Ryder Cup team, can see the excitement in an anticipated 2024 Ryder Cup at Bethpage Black. As he told Newsday's Greg Logan at The Barclays, "That would be some home-field advantage."

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