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Fadel brings his ‘‍A’ game at any age

06/13/2014, 12:22am EDT
By DAVE HACKENBERG BLADE SPORTS COLUMNIST
Fadel brings his ‘‍A’ game at any age

The Ohio Mid-Amateur golf championship began in the mid-1980s, partly as an answer to college kids dominating the Ohio Amateur. To paraphrase what Bobby Jones once said about Jack Nicklaus, the long and strong collegians were playing a game with which many other amateurs were not familiar.

So the Mid-Am began, in Ohio and nationally, to whittle the field a bit and maintain a competitive interest for those ages 25 and older.

Toledo’s Alan Fadel was one of the early winners of the Ohio Mid-Am, taking the crown in 1989 at age 34. He won it again in 1999 at age 44.

On Wednesday, Fadel took the title for the third time at age 59, shooting rounds of 71-67 for a three-shot victory over a field of more than 100, a good number of them half his age, at Riviera Golf Club outside Columbus.

“It was a win for the geriatric set,” Fadel said, laughing. “There were a lot of accomplished players, guys in their 30s, even 20s. It was really fun, but I have no delusions of grandeur. I found the genie in the bottle. I hit 16 greens [in regulation] during the final round and I chipped in on one that I missed. I know I’m not going to compete forever, but I’m going to push it for as long as I can.”

This isn’t the first time Fadel has somewhat defied age. In 1995, at 40, he stared down those college stars from around the state and they were the ones who blinked as Fadel captured the Ohio Amateur at Coldstream Club in Cincinnati.

The state amateur returns to Coldstream next month, and Fadel will again be in the field.

“I was thinking this might be the last one, but who knows,” he said. “I’m feeling good; my body is working, which is 99 percent of the battle on long courses set up for tournament play. My ball-striking is awfully good right now.”

Fadel has always had a lot of game. After college, he turned professional in 1978 and either played tour golf or worked as a club pro for almost a decade before having his amateur status reinstated.

An 11-time Inverness Club champion, Fadel, a financial advisor, has traveled the world to spread the gospel of amateur golf.

And he’ll be rewarded for it in August when he is inducted into the Ohio Golf Hall of Fame in ceremonies at Plum Brook CC in Sandusky.

He will be joined in the induction class by two fellow Toledo natives, former PGA Tour player John Cook, and the late Frank Stranahan, who is merely a legend.

It is a ridiculous oversight that Stranahan, an Inverness product and the best amateur golfer in the world post-Bobby Jones and pre-Tiger Woods, is not already a member of the Ohio Hall

. A three-time Ohio Open winner, all Stranahan did was finish runner-up in the Masters and British Open in 1947, a year before winning the amateur championships of three countries — Great Britain, Canada, and Mexico.

The U.S. Amateur title eluded him before turning pro in 1954, and he won twice on the PGA Tour to go along with three tour events he won while an amateur.

“It’s an honor to be selected for the Hall of Fame, but I’m almost embarrassed going in at the same time as Frank Stranahan,” Fadel said.

“He should have been in there a long time ago.”

Fadel is involved in amateur golf as more than a player.

He is the founder of the Concession Cup, which was played for the first time a month ago at Concession Golf Club in Florida, featuring honorary team captains Nicklaus and Tony Jacklin. It is established as a biennial competition for mid-amateurs and senior amateurs, many of them former Walker Cup players, pitting teams from the United States vs. Great Britain-Ireland.

Closer to home, Fadel is president of the First Tee of Lake Erie, a chapter of a national and sport-wide initiative to grow the game among youngsters who might otherwise not be drawn to it.

“For awhile, golf became either very social or real corporate,” Fadel said. “It’s now coming back to just being about the game and the competition. Amateur golf has far more importance than it’s credited with. I’m a golf junkie and I’m passionate about the game and want to be part of a group that helps amateur golf regain its luster.”

Fadel’s friends know that he can talk about the game for hours. Competitors know that his clubs can still do plenty of the talking, too, as the 59-year-old champion proved again earlier this week at the Ohio Mid-Amateur.

Contact Blade sports columnist Dave Hackenberg at: dhack@theblade.com or 419-724-6398.

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