BY JEFF FALK
QUENTIN – Behind every great man is a great partner. We all need someone to be there for us, support us, pick us up when we’re down.
But the best kind of partner may be the ones who play well, or score well.
On Saturday, there was plenty of chemistry in the air at 6,011-yard, par-71 Fairview Golf Course, during the opening round of the 28th annual Lebanon County Better-Ball-of-Partners tournament. And no one derived more from their bond than Pete Parpagene and Mike Schmidt. Jr.
Schmidt and Parpagene combined their talents for an eight-under par score of 63 that was good enough for a one-stroke lead over Nate Wentling and Mark Brandt, who fired a 64. The team of Mike Turner and Chris Fairbanks carded a six-under 65 and currently sit in the third spot, while defending champions Rick Troutman and Don Johnson and the tandem of Matt Cecil and Steve Sherk both collected 66s.
Another shot back at 67 was Bill Massar, Jr. and Dave Berkheimer, and Scot Adams and Terry Ludwig collaborated on a three-under 68, as did Justin Arnt and Andrew Bennett. Steve Allwein and John DiGiacomo, and Kevin Knox and Greg Seidel counted 69 strokes.
That elusive team chemistry stuff will be further put the test on Sunday, when the second and final round of the event is contested back at Fairview.
“Yeah, I didn’t play bad,” said Schmidt, who drilled eight birdie putts, all of which measured 14 feet or less. “There’s nothing easy about it. But Pete makes it easy. It lets you take a breath and relax. We had fun today.
“Pete used to be a pro,” Schmidt continued. “Pete knows how to get it around. He’s a good solid partner.”
“You’ve got to handle the ups and downs,” said Parpagene. “There’s going to be goods and bads in ever round. It’s a day not at work. It’s more relaxing now. It’s more fun. I’m more of a par guy. I don’t make as many birdies as he does.
“We played together in events before,” Parpagene continued. “I was kind of reluctant going into it. I hadn’t played a lot and I had neck injuries. It’s all about having fun, and we had a ton of fun today.”
“For me, a good partner is someone you can have fun with, which we did today,” said Brandt. “It would’ve been fun if we had shot 75 or 80. Someone you can count on. Someone who won’t leave you hanging. And I think we know each other’s game, which helps.
“We play a lot of golf together,” continued Brandt. “We’re good friends. He was in my wedding. I was in his wedding. I really enjoyed it.”
“We also know each other’s distances,” added Wentling. “We trust each other.”
Parpagene got his combo off on the right foot, with a three-foot birdie at the par-four third hole, then turned things over to Schmidt. Schmidt’s blade caught fire at the par-four fourth hole and continued its burn with ten-foot birdies at Numbers Five and Six.
They made the turn with a 31, after Schmidt rolled in a six-foot birdie at the par-three ninth.
“The first two holes are not hard holes, so that was a little frustrating,” said Schmidt, who has won this event twice previously, with two different partners. “Pete hit it to within three feet on the third hole, and we picked one up there. As a twosome, we collected four twos, which tends to keep the score down. After we got going, we just kind of kept cruising along. It was one shot at a time.”
“He played fantastic,” said Parpagene of his partner. “He rolled it well. I was trying to be there for him as much as I could. We picked each other up, but he was solid all day long.”
Schmidt and Parpagene encountered the only bogey of their round at the par-four 12th. But Schmidt knocked in a short bird at the par-five 14th, then canned a 12-foot birdie at the par-three 13th and a 163-inch birdie at the par-three closing hole.
“We didn’t have a number coming in,” said Schmidt. “We were going to shoot 62 or 82. But we were guaranteed of having a good time. If we played good golf, great.”
“It actually went pretty good,” said Parpagene. “It was pretty stress free. I haven’t played a lot lately. I felt like I helped him enough.”
Wentling and Brandt would’ve tied Schmidt-Parpagene for the first-round lead if it hadn’t been for a mental hiccup at the par-three 13th – where Wentling didn’t mark his ball while measuring for a closest-to-the-pin contest. It took Wentling and Brandt two holes to recover, but when they did, Brandt rolled in a 25-foot birdie putt at the par-four 16th and Wentling tapped in for birdie at the par-five 17th.
“It woiuld’ve been at least a one-stroke swing,” said Brandt. “I went over to Nate and asked him, ‘Where’s your mark?’ I knew exactly what happened. It would’ve tasted a little better if we came up with a par there.”
“I was confident coming in,” said Wentling. “We’re not the biggest names out here, but we think we can play with anyone. We were thinking 64 or 65.”
Brandt and Wentling got it ‘going on’ on the front nine, in the form of a six-under score of 30.
Wentling lit the fuse with a two-putt birdie at the par-four second hole, before draining a 12-foot eagle attempt at the 479-yard, par-five fourth hole. Then Brandt chimed in, by drilling a 12-foot eagle at the par-five seventh and sinking a 25-foot birdie try at the par-four eighth.
Wentling and Brandt played Fairiview’s four par-fives at a combined five-under par.
“We’re happy,” said Wentling. “The first eight holes we both contributed an eagle and a birdie. Mark carried us early. I was out of holes early.”
“Sixty-four, we’re ecstatic,” said Brandt. “We really hamed and egged it. Some holes we weren’t hitting the best shots and we still scored, which is a good feeling. We definitely got a lot out of the round.”
Turner and Fairbanks’ six-under 65 featured a little bit of everything – six birdies, an eagle, two bogeys and nine pars.
They were a combined five-under par over a span of eight holes – from Number Four through Number 11. Their eagle came at the 497-yard, par-five 14th.
Following a relatively slow start, Troutman and Johnson picked up the pace on the back, where they fired a four-under 31. Johnson and Troutman found themselves in a similar first-round position last year, before beating Jimmy Gardner and Brian Auman in a second-day playoff for the title.
“You can’t win this on Saturday,” said Troutman. “But you can lose it on Saturday. That’s what we did. We put ourselves in position to have a chance.”
Massar and Berkheimer’s 67 broke down into nines of 32 and 35. Adams and Ludwig counted 34s over each of their nines.
To purchase images in this article email email@example.com, or to view more go to www.http://lebanonsportsbuzz.com/gallery-11/.
28th Annual Lebanon County Better-Ball-of-Partners
(at 6,011-yard, par-71 Fairview Golf Course)
Saturday’s Opening Round Results
|MIKE SCHMIDT, JR
|BILL MASSAR, JR
|A. J. SWEITZER
Lebanon County Better Ball
|Don Johnson and Rick Troutman
|Brian Auman and Jim Gardner
|Mike Schmidt Jr. and Ryan Weaber
|Bill Massar Jr. and Dave Berkheimer
|No tournament due to flooding
|Steve Allwein and Mike Schmidt
|Jim Gardner and Brain Auman
|Tom Kintzer and Greg Behney
|Stu Hanford and Don Johnson
|Perry Umlauf and Shawn Cooper
|Dan Brown and Andy Gibbons
|Dan Brown and Andy Gibbons
|Dan Brown and Chad Schulze
|Bob Wenrich and John Hacunda
|John Digiacomo and Blaine Peffley
|Joe Faller and Phil Faller
|Jim Gardner and Jim Calhoun
|Pete Gebhard and Dave Kurtz
|Pete Gebhard and Dave Kurtz
|Mark Ditzler and Tom Sherk
|Jeff Pyles and Jeff Behney
|Rick Troutman and Pete Gebhard
|Joe Faller and Dave Kurtz
|Bob Page and Bill Shoop