The Philadelphia Inquirer Joe Juliano Column 2009: 14for Golfer

The Philadelphia Inquirer Joe Juliano Column

May 14--For every golfer who moves seamlessly from a fine amateur career to the PGA Tour, there are maybe 100 who can't seem to

get through the door. Christian Bartolacci and Joey Bonargo, natives of Bucks County who advanced Tuesday through local qualifying for the U.S. Open, fit that description. They have been trying for several years to get that break, and they continue to doggedly pursue it. "The door is still open," he said. "It's a matter of whether you have the [entry fee]. I know I can play. But it's expensive, and it's whether it's the right time in my life." Originally from Langhorne, Bartolacci enjoyed an excellent season in 2002. He won the Golf Association of Philadelphia Silver Cross, took medalist honors in the Philadelphia Amateur stroke play, and qualified for his second U.S. Amateur. After a year of working in private business, he wanted to try pro golf. Bartolacci played three years on the Cleveland Tour in New England, then one year on Florida's Gateway tour -- an experience he called "brutal." "The players down there are awesome because they're very good on those courses," he said. "It was a life-changing experience, but I wanted to stick with golf." Bonargo, 36, had a fine golf career at La Salle High and Mississippi but has played mostly mini-tour events since 1996. A chronic neck injury limited his play recently, and he spent the last three years helping out with his father's construction business on a project in Alabama.

But the Mechanicsville resident spent the winter working on his game and playing with Travis Deibert, an old friend from Doylestown Country Club who is now a pro at Commonwealth National.

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