Twin plays on as brother turns ill

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STATE COLLEGE, Pa. -- Ronald DeNunzio could only force a small smile as he walked back to the clubhouse Monday afternoon at Penn State Golf Courses.

DeNunzio shot a 1-under 141 over the first 36 holes of the West Penn Amateur Championship to sit fourth, trailing leader Trent Karlik by six shots entering the final round today, but his mind was far away from the golf course.

Four hours earlier, DeNunzio watched from two holes away as his twin brother, David, was whisked away to Mount Nittany Medical Center after an apparent asthma attack.

The DeNunzios, 28, had carded 70s in the first round, but Ronald said David had struggled to catch his breath since Sunday night. They hoped David's asthma, which has developed over the past year, would ebb Monday morning.

"I definitely feel his pain," Ronald DeNunzio said. "I can't stand seeing him the way he is when he's sick. I almost walked off the course just to go with him to the hospital. I care about him so much, and I don't like seeing him like that. I'd do anything for him."

Ronald DeNunzio said reports from the hospital are that David is doing well.

Nic Milito, the twins' cousin, was two groups back when he saw David DeNunzio double over early in the second round. The twins' father, Ronald Sr., helped his son up and coaxed him into a golf cart.

"I knew he wasn't feeling well," Milito said. "I saw them cart him off and figured he was all right. But then I saw the ambulance drive up. It rattled me a bit."

Milito, 25, shot a first-round 68, good for third place, but plummeted down the leader board with a 78 in the second round, recording four bogeys, a double bogey and a triple bogey.

"I didn't really make any mistakes" in the first round, Milito said. "But I made three big numbers in my second round, all from the center of the fairway. That's kind of tough to stomach."

Numbers soared across the board as play moved from the first round, played on the shorter White Course, to the second round on the Blue Course, where the championship round also will be played.

Among the rare golfers who didn't slip in the second round was Ronald DeNunzio, who shot even par despite nearly walking off the course to follow his brother to the hospital.

"I hit a lot of greens, and I hit a lot of fairways," Ronald DeNunzio said. "My ball-striking has been pretty good. Maybe tomorrow if I can get some putts to drop I can make a run at winning this thing."

He was even more impressed in his brother's play.

"Think if he was healthy!" Ronald DeNunzio said, shaking his head in wonder at David's 1-under first round. "I love him to death. He wants to be out here so badly. Maybe I can play well [today] for him."

Stephen J. Nesbitt: snesbitt@post-gazette.com, 412-290-2183 and Twitter @stephenjnesbitt.


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