Can one pull a Sullivan championship out of a hat? Danny McCreesh and Anthony Campanile did.
McCreesh and Campanile, a 20-something team from New Jersey, played some spectacular golf Sunday afternoon in winning the championship of the 66th annual W.B. Sullivan Better-Ball-of-Partners, in their first time as a team and in their first appearance in the match-play championship flight. McCreesh and Campanile literally were paired as a team when they randomly chose each other’s name from an informal drawing.
McCreesh and Campanile defeated the local tandem of Rick Troutman and Greg Ulp 2&1 in the final match. The two Jersey boys had reached the title bout by disecting the defending champions, Dan Brown and Brian Auman 7&6 in the Sunday morning semifinals.
McCreesh and Campanile are two of a group of about a dozen young New Jersey players who have been making the trek to the Sullivan and the Lebanon Country Club for the past few years. How they decide who will be playing with whom is by drawing names.
“The good thing for us about picking out of a hat is that we’re both birdie guys,” said McCreesh. “We’re both risk-reward players, so when the risk pays off it’s great.”
After trailing most of the final match, McCreesh and Campanile went one up when the former drilled a ten-foot birdie putt on the par-three 14th hole. Then after Campanile halved the 16th from a precarious spot behind the hole, Campanile clinched the match with an eight-foot birdie on the par-four 17th.
“This is a great tournament,” said McCreesh, 22. “We heard about it, and then when we got here I realized this is the best-run team tournament I’ve ever seen. We love coming here.”
“Obviously the shot at 13 was big,” said Troutman. “But it didn’t break our backs. I thought the shot of the tournament was him (Campanile) getting up and down from the back of 16. That was a terrific shot. He had to make it or the match was even. Everything else was pretty much what we expected.”
The ‘big shot at 13’ was McCreesh holing a sand wedge from 72 yards out for an eagle. After apparently settling on the top tier of the 13th green, McCreesh’s ball slid down on to the lower tier and into the cup to pull his team to within a shot of tying the match.
“The turning point I’d say was 13,” said Campanile. “That got us to one down. We were seven-under par and we were saying, ‘What do we have to do to beat them. It was a good match.”
“They shot seven-under par with a bogey,” said Troutman, 55, “that’s not bad for 17 holes. We played good. We were five-under after ten holes and they were four-under after ten holes. They’re nice young kids and great players.”
Troutman and Ulp birdied three of the first six holes to establish a two-hole lead. But McCreesh got one of those back when he rolled in a 30-foot ‘chicken’ on the 185-yard, par-three ninth hole.
“We heard all week that they don’t miss shots,” said McCreesh of Troutman and Ulp. “And we played with them and they didn’t miss shots. It’s fun when you’re making birdies back and forth. They don’t miss fairways. We’re more aggressive.”
“It’s (the Sullivan) important to me because I’m from here, Lebanon County,” said Troutman. “But I’m not going to go home and slit my wrists. It’s the hardest event to win because the field is so deep. It carries more prestige when you’re from here, people who are familiar with the tournament, the club, Swish (head pro emeritus Mike Swisher).”
When Troutman and Ulp defeated William Schultz and Jimmy Ward 4&3 in a Sunday morning semifinal it marked the third time overall – and second time with Ulp in three years – that a Troutman team had reached the finals of the Sullivan. He’s 0-3.
Meanwhile, the duo of Lance Oberparleiter and Dan Ott captured the first flight with a sparking three-round score of 199 or 16-under par, while Jimmy Gardner and Andy Gibbons edged John DiGiacomo and Alan Newmaster to claim the second flight. The third flight went to Jamie Sweigart and Gil Fritz and Greg O’Connor and Rick Wortman took top honors in the fourth flight.