Jimmy Bellizzi of Olney was annoyed with himself for three-putting each of the first two holes on his final nine in the recent Middle Atlantic PGA Boy Scouts Classic, but the senior player's nine-birdie 65 at Lakewood still beat the field of far younger players by four shots.
Bellizzi, 58, has won at least one tournament a year on the MAPGA circuit each of the past 23 years. This season, the director of golf at Germantown has won two MAPGA pro-ams and said he is playing as well as he ever has after shedding about 35 pounds. He practiced for five weeks last winter on The Teeth of the Dog course at Casa del Campo in the Dominican Republic, which he called "one of the toughest golf courses in the world."
Bellizzi has played in a great many tournaments in 38 years as a professional, including two PGA championships, three Senior PGA events and the first three national club pro tournaments. He played in the 1982 Kemper Open and scored a hole in one on the 210-yard 16th hole at Congressional using a 2-iron. He had birdied the hole the previous day. "That's the two-hole record there as far as I know," Bellizzi said.
Washington pro Lee Elder is not entered in the Kemper Open this year because he will be defending his title in the Senior PGA Tour's Denver Post Champions tournament in Castle Rock, Colo.
Elder, 51, won his first event of the season last weekend when he opened with 65 and 66 and finished at 15-under-par 273 to easily win the Coca Cola Grand Slam tournament and $50,000 near Tokyo.
Elder, who won four seniors tournaments and $302,000 last season in his first full year on the senior circuit, has won $167,000 so far this year and seems to earn a healthy check almost every tournament.
This year, Elder has to contend with the addition of newly-eligible 50-year-old "rookies" like Gary Player, Chi Chi Rodriguez, Dale Douglass and Bruce Crampton. He has finished second to Player twice, most recently on May 18 in the United Hospitals tournament near Philadelphia, where he finished with 67, one stroke behind.
Elder has played seven straight weeks. "You get a little name, and are among the top money winners, and the sponsors ask you to play. You hate to say, 'No,' " he said before playing in Japan. "The competition is certainly getting tougher . . . Orville Moody, Don January, Gene Littler, Miller Barber. These guys are going to be tough at any time. I'll be pretty angry at myself if I don't win two or three times. I'm a good warm weather player," Elder added.
Gary Marlowe suffered a severe knee injury last October while boarding a fishing boat, but proved he has healed when he walked 36 holes in one day recently, returning scores of 70 and 74 at Baltimore's Chestnut Ridge to pass first-phase U.S. Open local qualifying.
Woodmont's Marlowe, who played on the PGA Tour in 1984, stepped awkwardly onto the deck of the boat and tore all four ligaments in his right knee. He was on the operating table for more than four hours.
The injury prevented him from trying a second time for his PGA Tour playing card. Now, he says his tee shots are 20 yards shorter, but "a lot straighter."