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.
|Chris Gebhard and Jim Gardner||66-63-129||Blue Mountain||2020|
|Dan Brown and Ryan Woefling||63-64-127||Pine Meadows||2019|
|Mike Potts and Jesse Brown||64-69-133||Pine Meadows||2018|
|Justin Arnt and Skeet Wentling||66-64-130||Lebanon Valley||2017|
|Mike Schmidt, Jr and Pete Parpagene||63-66-129||Fairview||2016|
|Don Johnson and Rick Troutman||68-64-132||Fairview||2015|
|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|