BY JEFF FALK
QUENTIN – Some are brothers. Some are cousins. Some are fathers and sons. Others are uncles and nephews.
Some are old friends. Some are peers. Some share a protege-mentor relationship. Some are future adversaries.
Some have similar personalities. Others have different personalities.
Some have been together for quite some time. Some have never played together before.
There is no rhyme or reason to any of it, at all. Whatever works, works.
But it is the beauty of the male human relationship. It’s also the beauty of better-ball golf.
On Saturday at the 6,305-yard, par-71 Fairview Golf Course, during the opening round of the 23rd annual, 36-hole Lebanon County Better-Ball-of-Partners tournament, Steve Allwein and John DiGiacomo’s personality chemistry was almost as important to their success as their playing ability. The two collaborated on an eight-birdie, one-bogey, seven-under par 64, to forge a one-shot edge over defending champions Jim Gardner-Brian Auman and Cody Kersey-Mike Potts, who each fired six-under 65s.
Allwein-DiGiacomo will carry a two-shot advantage over Bill Massar, Jr.-Dave Berkheimer, who counted 66 shots with their better ball, into Sunday’s final round. Carding three-under par scores of 68 was a group of three teams, past champions Tom Kintzer-Greg Behney, Greg Adams-Noah Firestone and Rick Troutman-Don Johnson.
“I can rely on him,” said Potts of Kersey. “If I have a bad hole, Cody’s going to have my back. We have the same personality, I’m just a lot older.”
“I think it’s very important. There ain’t no doubt,” said Gardner, the reigning Lebanon County Amateur champion. “There’s been times when we’ve laughed at each other after we three-putt from five feet. We like to say, ‘I ain’t going to sugar coat it, that hurt’. Sure it’s a game. But we like to have fun. Chemistry is very important. You’ve got to have chemistry. If there’s tension, you’re not going to be successful.”
“It’s a really long story,” said Allwein, who, along with DiGiacomo have each won a County better-ball title, with different partners. “We decided to play together in February, but we got our partners mixed up and it got really complicated. But I guess it turned out the way it was supposed to.
“We just try to finish a round with 14 clubs which aren’t broken,” continued Allwein. “He’s (DiGiacomo) fiery. He’s very fiery. But we played a good round together.”
Allwein and DiGiacomo complemented each other well over the first nine holes.
Allwein drained a 40-foot birdie putt on the par-four opening test, DiGiacomo holed a short birdie putt at the par-five fourth and Allwein canned a four-footer at the 423-yard, par-four fifth hole. Then they each made bird at the par-five seventh hole, to get their round to four-under par.
“I guess the goal is to just give each other birdie looks on every hole,” said Allwein. “That’s the key to winning this thing. It’s just fun with friends. It’s less stressful than an individual event, because you have a partner. It’s more care-free.”
The ‘Country Clubbers’ got it to five-under par with Allwein’s 25-footer on the par-four tenth hole, but the key to their round may have been the bogey they ‘salvaged’ at the Number 12, after encountering tree troubles.
From there, DiGiacomo two-putted the par-five 14th for birdie, chipped in for a birdie at the par-three 15th and two-putted at the par-five 17th for birdie.
“It could’ve been an ‘eight’,” said Allwein of Number 12. “It could’ve gone from a good round to a bad round. It could’ve been a double bogey.
“We just played well back-and-forth,” added Allwein. “I’m happy with that.”
Minimizing mistakes and taking advantage of opportunities were certainly keys to Auman-Gardner’s round as well. They were at a modest one-under par through five holes, before birdieing the 202-yard, par-three sixth hole and the par-five seventh hole to make the turn at three-under.
“The chemistry between us, it comes from knowing each other,” said Auman, who has won two County better-balls with Gardner, in ten tries. “What I like about him, he’s always in play. So it frees me up to be more aggressive. That’s huge in a better-ball, and it’s a lot less stressful. We’ve been pretty successful together throughout the years.”
“I wanted to shoot six-under, no worse,” said Gardner. “I’m happy where we’re at. We each made three birdies.”
On the back, Gardner-Auman birdied the par-four tenth hole and both par-fives. They did not record a bogey throughout.
“It was steady,” said Auman. “We didn’t scare a bogey. Like everybody, we left some shots out there.”
“I know his game better than he knows it,” joked Gardner. “Even though he hits a club more than I do, I’m very comfortable asking him which one to hit.”
Kersey-Potts opened their round on fire. They logged birdies at three of their first four holes – the 310-yard, par-four first, the 321-yard, par-four second and the 507-yard, par-five fourth. While they gave one shot back at the par-three sixth, they quickly regained it at the par-five seventh.
“It came down to putting,” said Kersey, who competes regularly with Potts at Pine Meadows. “It was tough putting. But we made some putts. We just played solid. We birdied the holes we should have.”
Kersey-Potts made it to four-under with a birdie at the par-four tenth. Then they collaborated on birdies at the par-five 14th and the par-five 17th.
“It could’ve been a little better,” said Potts. “But it was good. Cody played well. It was easy to play with Cody today. He had an eagle putt on every par-five.”
Massar and Berkheimer got their round to five-under when the former rolled in a 20-foot eagle putt on the par-five 14th. But they couldn’t make any further hay on their way in.
Other highlights of their round were birdies at the par-four third hole, the par-four fifth hole, the par-five seventh and the par-four eighth. And making the turn at four-under par.
Adams, a runner-up along with Massar, Jr. at last week’s Lebanon County Senior Amateur, and Firestone, a W.B. Sullivan better-ball finalist, fired matching 34s on their front and back nines. Behney and Kintzer got it going on the back-nine, with a four-under par 31, after carding a one-over 37 on the front – as did Troutman-Johnson.
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Lebanon County Better Ball
|Brian Auman and Jim Gardner||64-69-133||Pine Meadows||2014|
|Mike Schmidt Jr. and Ryan Weaber||Iron Valley||2013|
|Bill Massar Jr. and Dave Berkheimer||68-69-137||Monroe Valley||2012|
|No tournament due to flooding||2011|
|Steve Allwein and Mike Schmidt||64-68-132||Royal Oaks||2010|
|Jim Gardner and Brain Auman||60-65-125||Fairview||2009|
|Tom Kintzer and Greg Behney||66-65-131||Blue Mountain||2008|
|Stu Hanford and Don Johnson||64-67-131||Pine Meadows||2007|
|Perry Umlauf and Shawn Cooper||66-66-132||Royal Oaks||2005|
|Dan Brown and Andy Gibbons||62-67-129||Pine Meadows||2004|
|Dan Brown and Andy Gibbons||66-60-126||Fariview||2003|
|Dan Brown and Chad Schulze||61-65-126||Lebanon Valley||2002|
|Bob Wenrich and John Hacunda||70-64-134||Monroe Valley||2000|
|John Digiacomo and Blaine Peffley||64-67-131||Fairview||1999|
|Joe Faller and Phil Faller||65-74-139||Monroe Valley||1998|
|Jim Gardner and Jim Calhoun||68-67-135||Fairview||1997|
|Pete Gebhard and Dave Kurtz||70-64-134||Fairview||1995|
|Pete Gebhard and Dave Kurtz||65-68-133||Fairview||1994|
|Mark Ditzler and Tom Sherk||69-68-137||Fairview||1992|
|Jeff Pyles and Jeff Behney||70-68-138||Fairview||1991|
|Rick Troutman and Pete Gebhard||70-65-135||Fairview||1990|
|Joe Faller and Dave Kurtz||66-67-133||Fairview||1989|
|Bob Page and Bill Shoop||68-65-133||Fairview||1988|