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BY JEFF FALK

MYERSTOWN – Part of Justin Arnt wanted to see a compelling County Amateur, complete with intrigue, suspense and a thrilling finish.

Another part of Arnt wanted to see a much calmer golf tournament, little drama – one that held true to form.

The way it turned out Justin Arnt, the competitor won out over Justin Arnt, the co-tournament director.

On a steamy Sunday morning at the par-71, 6,136-yard Lebanon Valley Golf Course, Arnt captured his first Lebanon County Amateur Championship in quite mundane fashion. Arnt carded a pedestrian second-round 72, for a 36-hole winning total of 138, or four-under par.

Thanks to Saturday’s opening round of five-under 66, Arnt started Sunday’s play with a six-stroke lead – which also turned out to be his margin of victory. It was John DiGiacomo who posted the runner-up total of 75-69=144, while Criag Kliewer finished third with his 72-73=145.

Dave Albright fired a total of 74-73=147 and came in fourth, and Steve Allwein came through with a 78-71=149. Bill Massar Jr. and Greg Behney finished in a tie for sixth with 151 totals, while Ryan Woelfling carded a 77-75=152.

Of the 44 total rounds played at Lebanon Valley over the weekend, only two were under par.

“It wasn’t easy, but my round was pretty boring,” said Arnt. “When I got here this morning, I was told to take a cart from the back row, and I saw cart number 36. I thought that number would represent a good mindset (of steady scores on the front and back nines), and that’s what I did. I tried to have the same mindset as I did yesterday (Saturday) – get it on the green and two-putt.

“No, I didn’t want to have any drama,” continued Arnt. “But when you do, it brings out something different in you. There is a time and place for it.”

Because of Arnt’s steady play, there was no real drama that unfolded during the final round of play. Arnt bogeyed Lebanon Valley’s 292-yard, par-four opening hole and the tricky 473-yard, par-four fourth hole, but Kliewer and DiGiacomo only managed to shave a single stroke off his comfortable cushion.

“I knew 71 to 73 was my target,” said Arnt, 30. “I knew somebody was going to have to shoot a 64 to beat me. That was the thought process ‘I’m going to force someone to shoot 64 or 65.’

“I knew after nine that John (DiGiacomo) said he was one-under,” added Arnt. “John picked up a stroke on me, but I started with a nine-shot advantage over him. In our group, three of us were even par. But that didn’t make me feel comfortable. It didn’t change my game plan. It didn’t change my approach.”

Arnt had pieced together back-to-back pars, before running in a 15-footer for birdie at the par-five seventh. When he rolled in a seven-foot birdie putt at the par-four eighth, Arnt was even-par for the day and five-under for the tournament.

“It means a lot,” said Arnt. “Initially, it (competing in the County Amateur) was just getting experience. Then it was getting to know people. It kind of became more important when Skeet (Wentling) and I won the (Lebanon County) better-ball in 2017. It was like, ‘Now I want to win the County Amateur’.

“I think you have to mature as a player,” Arnt added. “The last thing you want to do in a tournament like this is play a hero shot. It’s self-awareness, just knowing where you’re at. The only thing I can control are the guys I’m playing with, and myself.”

DiGiacomo’s attempt at putting pressure on Arnt during the front-nine manifested itself in the form of birdies at Numbers One, Five and Seven. But his mission was slowed by bogeys at the par-three third hole and the par-four fourth.

“I played better than yesterday (Saturday), but I left a lot of stuff out there,” said DiGiacomo. “I had 63 in my mind. It’s feasible, it just didn’t happen. I had a tough time putting. I had it ten feet for eagle on a couple of holes.

“I knew I had to shoot eight under to have a chance,” DiGiacomo continued. “I thought if I could’ve been four-under at the turn, and he (Arnt) was even, I think I could’ve put some pressure on him. I had to put pressure on him to make a move. I had to force him to come back. I had to post a good score on the front to let him know I was playing well.”

With birdies at the 134-yard, par-three 13th hole and the 530-yard, par-five 14th hole, DiGiacomo did what he could. But he never managed to string together enough birdies or get on the type of roll needed to seriously dent Arnt’s advantage.

“If I could’ve come in at 72 yesterday, it changes the mentality,” said DiGiacomo of his opening-round 75. “But I don’t know if I’d like to see some give that (type of lead) up. It’s painful.

“I’ve already won it. I ‘ve already done it,” said DiGiacomo of his County Amateur title in 2001 at Royal Oaks. “One-hundred percent, the reason I play in this is to qualify for the county match-play tournament in the fall. That’s my favorite thing. I haven’t been playing much, and my swing just isn’t that sharp.”

Kerry Wentling posted a 77-76=153 to edge Chris Gebhard for top honors in the first flight. The second flight went to Darren Lutz and his 79-82=161.

To purchase images in this article email jkfalk2005@yahoo.com.

62nd Annual Lebanon County Amateur Golf Championship

(at 6,361-yard, Par-71 Lebanon Valley Golf Course)

Sunday’s Final Results

Justin Arnt 66-72 – 138

John DiGiacomo 75-69 – 144

Craig Kliewer 72-73-  145

Dave Albright 74-73 – 147

Steve Allwein 78-71 – 149

Bill Massar, Jr. 77-74 – 151

Greg Behney 75-76 – 151

Ryan Woelfling 77-74 – 151

Kerry Wentling 77-76 – 153

Chris Gebhard 77-76 – 153

Jordan Rhen 78 -77 – 155

Tony Deraco 77-78 – 155

Jeff Hoke 80-78 – 158

Perry Umlauf 76-82 – 158

Steve O’Neal 81-79 – 160

Darren Lutz 79-82 -161

John Feeman 82-81 – 163

Jim Pesta 85-80 – 165

Leon Nolt 86-80 – 166

Jared Brandt 86-83 – 169

Ben Feeman 82-91- 173

Dave Hoover 85-96 – 181

Past Champions

Lebanon County Amateur Golf Championship

Past Champions
(Year, Player, Score and Course)

2020 – Justin Arnt, 138, LV

2019- Jim Gardner, 134, LV  

2018 – Tyler Massar, 136, BM

2017 – Dan Brown, 136, FV

2016 – Jim Gardner, 139, PM

2015 – Jim Gardner, 141, LV

2014 – Dan Brown, 140, RO

2013 – Mike Schmidt, Jr., 136, FV

2012 – Tony Deraco, 136 BMV

2011 – Dan Brown, 142, PM
2010 – Ryan Schneiter, MV
2009 — Tim Leeper, 138, LV
2008 — Mike Schmidt Jr., 139, RO
2007 — Andy Gibbons, 140, FV
2006 — Jim Gardner, 104 BMV (27 holes)
2005 — Bill Massar Jr., 139 PM
2004 — Blaine Peffley, 144 BM
2003 — Chris Gebhard, 137 MV
2002 — Joe Faller, 139, FV
2001 — Jon DiGiacomo, 145, RO
2000 — Blaine Peffley, 143, FV
1999 — Roger Karsnitz, 146, MV
1998 — Chad Schulze, 139, FV
1997 — Chad Schulze, 144, MV
1996 — Chris Gebhard, 141, FV
1995 — Bill Massar Jr., 71, MV (18 holes)
1994 — John Gross, 144, MV
1993 — Mike Schmidt, 143, MV
1992 — Jeff Hoke, 148, MV
1991 — Joe Faller, 147, MV 1990 — Dennis Toomey, 145, MV

1989 — Joe Faller, 146, MV 1988 — Bob Page, 146, MV
1987 — Michael Brooks, 149, MV
1986 — John Gross, 147, MV
1985 — Pete Gebhard, 145, MV
1984 — Bob Page, 139, BM
1983 — Roger Karsnitz, 148, FV
1982 — Pete Gebhard, 72, MV (18 holes)
1981 — Stu Ingraham, 140, LV
1980 — Ben Witter, 141, MV
1979 — Tom Lape, 140, BM
1978 — Stu Ingraham, 144, FV
1977 — Russ Ditzler, 145, PM
1976 — Jim Sherman, 138, LV
1975 — Bob Page, 150, MV
1974 — Kye Golembewski, 141, BM
1973 — George Eisley, 147, FV
1972 — Roger Karsnitz, 144, PM
1971 — William Weik, 142, LV
1970 — Paul Ingraham, 157, MV
1969 — Bob Page, 144, BM
1968 — Ron Will, 147, FV
1967 — Bob Page, 139, PM
1966 — William Weik, 143, LV
1965 — Joseph Spesak, 141, BM
1964 — Tom Donnachie Jr., 149, FV
1963 — William Weik, 149, LCC
1962 — Joseph Spesak, 140, LV
1961 — Tom Donnachie Jr., 144, FV
1960 — Joseph Spesak, 145, LCC
1959 — George Moeschlin Jr., 144, LV
Key: RO — Royal Oaks, FV — Fairview, MV — Monroe Valley, BM — Blue Mountain, LV — Lebanon Valley, PM — Pine Meadows, LCC — Lebanon Country Club

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