Worth The Wait
Buddy Marucci Had Tried For More Than Two Decades To Be
A National Champion. Finally His Dream Came True.
2008 Championship Annual: The Year In Review
By Dave Fanucchi, USGA
For George "Buddy" Marucci, it was the culmination of more than 25 years of playing in USGA championships. During that time, he had pursued his quest with great passion, but was never able to hoist a trophy awarded to a national champion.
|Under a picturesque sky, George "Buddy" Marucci heads toward his target during the championship. (USGA Museum)|
That all changed on a beautiful September morning at Shady Oaks Country Club in Fort Worth, Texas, the former home course of the legendary Ben Hogan. The 56-year-old luxury car dealer from Villanova, Pa., defeated 55-year-old George Zahringer of New York, N.Y., 2 up, to win the 2008 USGA Senior Amateur Championship.
"Of all my accomplishments in golf, this has to top the list," said Marucci, who memorably finished runner-up to Tiger Woods in the 1995 U.S. Amateur at Newport Country Club in Rhode Island. "I can't wait to walk into the USGA Museum and see my name up on the Hall of Champions. It means a lot to me to finally win one of these after all my years of trying."
Marucci never trailed in the 18-hole final match and didn't relinquish the lead after birdieing the par-3 seventh hole to go 1 up. He extended the margin to 3 up through 12 holes, his largest cushion, until Zahringer sliced the deficit to 1 down on the 15th. But Marucci maintained his 1-up advantage with a clutch 8-foot putt for par on No. 16. After the two players halved the 17th hole, Marucci split the 18th fairway and struck a crisp 7-iron approach shot from 158 yards to within 11 feet of the hole. When Zahringer's 25-foot birdie putt slid by the hole, he conceded the match to Marucci.
"I think Buddy's iron play was better than mine today, as was his putting," said Zahringer, who won the 2002 U.S. Mid-Amateur Championship. "That right there may have been the difference."
The captain of the victorious 2007 USA Walker Cup team, Marucci will be unable to defend his Senior title in 2009 at The Beverly Club in Chicago, Ill. He will instead be at Merion Golf Club in Ardmore, Pa., his home course during summer, as the returning
captain of the 2009 USA Walker Cup squad. The two USGA championships begin play on the same weekend.
Marucci has amassed a remarkable record, and has been a consistent competitor in USGA championships throughout the years. "I've been playing against these guys all my life, and to finally win one is amazing," the champion said afterward. Dave Fanucchi is the director of Communications, Public Relations for the USGA.This article first appeared in the 2008 Championship Annual, a special publication mailed to USGA Members in November.