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BY JEFF FALK

MYERSTOWN – Perhaps the absolute best thing about a better-ball golf tournament is that you are no longer are the only one who believes in yourself. The secret to Jim Gardner and Chris Gebhard’s successful partnership is that not only do they lift each other up, but that they also make each other better.

On an overcast Sunday at the par-71, 6,136-yard Lebanon Valley Golf Course, Gebhard and Gardner repeated as Lebanon County Better-Ball-of-Partners champions in overwhelming fashion. Gardner and Gebhard teamed to fire a second-round 61 for a 124 total that was both 18 under par and a new tournament record for the lowest winning score.

Gebhard and Gardner’s 63-61=124 total was also three shots better than runner-up Justin Arnt-Skeet Wentling’s two-day score of 62-65=127, as well as the rest of the 33-team field. Finishing third was the duo of Dan Brown and Brian Auman, who posted a 64-64=128, or 14 under par.

The teams of Dave Albright-Scot Adams and Mat Rowe-Ryan Woelfling both posted totals of 132 to finish in a tie for fourth.

Gardner-Gebhard carded a 63 during Saturday’s opening round and began play on Sunday a shot behind co-leaders Arnt-Wentling, Albright-Adams and Steve Sherk-Dave Hoover. As a team, Gebhard and Gardner have now won the last two Lebanon County Better-Ball-of-Partners’ championships and finished as the runners-up twice.

“I know I look forward to playing with Chris,” said Gardner. “We’re usually going against each other. So, it’s a nice change. Our personalities and games are very similar. It’s a very easy partnership.”

“It’s how you react to that (adversity),” said Gebhard. “It’s very important. You’ve got to put it in the past. We don’t get too excited, too angry. We’re both very even-keeled.”

Paired with Arnt-Wentling in the final round’s next-to-last group, Gebhard-Gardner took control of the title with back-to-back birdies at the 134-yard, par-three 14th hole and the 530-yard, par-five 15th hole. Gardner rolled in a pair of relatively lengthy birdie putts on both holes to give his side a two-shot lead with three holes to play.

On the back nine, Gebhard-Gardner’s better-ball counted 29 strokes.

“That always helps, having an idea of where you stand,” said Gebhard. “We knew the groups behind us weren’t playing all that well. But yeah, it was fairly intense. The scores were good, so you knew you had to play well.”

“I think 15 is where the momentum switched,” said Gardner. “Then when he (Gebhard) made birdie at 17, I felt pretty good. We were two up with one hole to play.”

After the first six holes, Gardner-Gebhard were hovering at three-under par for the day and 11-under for the event. But Gebhard birdied the par-five seventh hole and the par-four eighth hole, before Gardner drained a seven-foot birdie putt at the par-four ninth hole.

“Today, my thought was ‘There were three teams that shot 62 and we were behind all of them’,” said Gebhard. “I thought we had to shoot a spectacular score to win. We were behind early, probably three shots after five holes. Before we birdied the last three holes on the front nine, we weren’t playing well.”

“It’s very rewarding,” said Gardner. “I always think it comes down to how you handle it (adversity) Everybody reacts differently in competition. Everyone’s trying. But when you’re on a golf course, you conduct yourself a certain way.”

Arnt-Wentling began their round with birdies at the par-four first hole and the par-four second hole. Then, they extended their lead with an eagle at the 497-yard, par-five fifth hole.

“I think second’s good, considering we lost to a 61,” said Arnt. “Ultimately, we were disappointed because our goal was to win. But if you get beat by a 61, you get beat by a 61. I didn’t play like I could’ve played and he (Wentling) played really good through ten holes.

“It was a very fun day to play with them (Gardner-Gebhard),” added Arnt. “Everything was complimentary, everyone was rooting for each other. No one took it too seriously, but it was very competitive.”

Arnt-Wentling still had a one-shot lead when they made the turn, then proceeded to birdie the par-four tenth hole and the par-four 11th hole. But it wasn’t too long after that when they lost control of the outcome.

“We honestly thought it was between us and them (Gebhard-Gardner) and Dan (Brown) and Brian (Auman),” said Arnt. “We thought it was going to be a dog fight. We birdied ten and eleven, then our putters went cold, and they (Gardner-Gebhard) started making putts.

“I only had five feet for birdie at 15, and I’m thinking ‘If they missed and I make, we’re even with three holes to go’,” Arnt added. “But instead, he (Gardner) made and I missed, so we’re down two with three holes to play. When you’re down two with three holes to play, you’ve got to press, and for us, pressing is not great. Even or one-down is a lot different than two-down.”

Brown-Auman started Sunday’s round two strokes behind the leaders and could not make up any ground on the front-nine. Then, all they could manage on the back-nine was three birdies.

The squad of Bill Massar, Jr. and Matt Anderson posted a 63 on Sunday to win the first flight by two shots. Jeff Hoke-Chris Fairbanks and Tim Leeper-Chad Leeper tied for first-place in the second flight with similar totals of 134.

The third flight went to Nate Wentling-Sam Schrefler and their 74-69=143.

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

33rd Annual Lebanon County Better-Ball-of-Partners

(at 6,136-yard, par-71 Lebanon Valley Golf Course)

Final Results

CHAMPIONSHIP
1Gebhard/Gardner63611241st
2Arnt/Wentling62651272nd
3Brown/Auman64641283rd
4Albright/Adams6270132T-4th
5Rowe/Woelfling6666132T-4th
6Sherk/Hoover62721346th
7Massar/Heckard66691357th
8Ditzler/Ditzler66761428th
FIRST FLIGHT
1Massar/Anderson68631311st
2Mohn/Schneck67661332nd
3Seidel/Verneson67671343rd
4Wentling/Umlauf68671354th
5Fake/Layser68691375th
6Kersey/Kreiser67711386th
7Parpagene/Schmidt68721407th
8Miller/Fake68731418th
SECOND FLIGHT
1Hoke/Fairbanks6965134T-1st
2Leeper/Leeper7262134T-1st
3Pesta/Stone70671373rd
4Deraco/Hurst72661384th
5Whitman/Weaver70691395th
6Snader/Nolt69721416th
7Day/Day71731447th
8Boltz/Emerich71751468th
THIRD FLIGHT
1Wentling/Shrefler74691431st
2Killian/Bashore75711462nd
3Anspach/Anspach73741473rd
4Faust/Stegman73751484th
5Emerich/Hoover7574149T-5th
6Brandt/Custer7871149T-5th
7Brubaker/Brubaker7873151T-7th
8Brandt/Smaltz7873151T-7th
9Kepley/Samuels80861669th

Past Champions

Player NameScoreCourseYear
Chris Gebhard and Jim Gardner66-63-129Blue Mountain2020
Dan Brown and Ryan Woefling63-64-127Pine Meadows2019
Mike Potts and Jesse Brown64-69-133Pine Meadows2018
Justin Arnt and Skeet Wentling66-64-130Lebanon Valley2017
Mike Schmidt, Jr and Pete Parpagene63-66-129Fairview2016
Don Johnson and Rick Troutman68-64-132Fairview2015
Brian Auman and Jim Gardner64-69-133Pine Meadows2014
Mike Schmidt Jr. and Ryan WeaberIron Valley2013
Bill Massar Jr. and Dave Berkheimer68-69-137Monroe Valley2012
No tournament due to flooding2011
Steve Allwein and Mike Schmidt64-68-132Royal Oaks2010
Jim Gardner and Brain Auman60-65-125Fairview2009
Tom Kintzer and Greg Behney66-65-131Blue Mountain2008
Stu Hanford and Don Johnson64-67-131Pine Meadows2007
Perry Umlauf and Shawn Cooper66-66-132Royal Oaks2005
Dan Brown and Andy Gibbons62-67-129Pine Meadows2004
Dan Brown and Andy Gibbons66-60-126Fariview2003
Dan Brown and Chad Schulze61-65-126Lebanon Valley2002
Bob Wenrich and John Hacunda70-64-134Monroe Valley2000
John Digiacomo and Blaine Peffley64-67-131Fairview1999
Joe Faller and Phil Faller65-74-139Monroe Valley1998
Jim Gardner and Jim Calhoun68-67-135Fairview1997
Pete Gebhard and Dave Kurtz70-64-134Fairview1995
Pete Gebhard and Dave Kurtz65-68-133Fairview1994
Mark Ditzler and Tom Sherk69-68-137Fairview1992
Jeff Pyles and Jeff Behney70-68-138Fairview1991
Rick Troutman and Pete Gebhard70-65-135Fairview1990
Joe Faller and Dave Kurtz66-67-133Fairview1989
Bob Page and Bill Shoop68-65-133Fairview1988

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