BY JEFF FALK
QUENTIN – Dan Brown loves his home, he loves the game of golf and he loves this event. Now factor in the fact that he is driven to be the best, and you’ve got the makings of a champion.
Or a three-time champion!
On a warm Sunday afternoon over Fairview Golf Course’s 6,305-yard, par-71 test, Brown fired a closing-round score of 67, or four-under par, to capture his third overall crown, at the 59th edition of the Lebanon County Amateur Golf Championships. Brown’s total of 69-67=137 was six under par and one shot lower than runner-up and playing partner Cody Kersey and his 69-68=137.
Finishing in a tie for third, with a total of 141 or one-under, were two-time defending champion Jimmy Gardner, who posted a 71-70, and Brian Auman, who recorded a 72-69. First-round leader Mat Rowe followed up his 67 with a closing-round 75, for a 142 and fifth place.
Chris Gebhard and John DiGiacomo tied for sixth with 71-75=146 and 73-73=146, respectively. Tyler Massar and Noah Firestone each carded totals of 148.
Brown, who previously wore the crown in 2011 and 2014, became only the fifth player in the history of the tournament to win at least three county amateur championships. His 136 tied for the lowest total in the history of the event, originally set by Tony Deraco at Blue Mountain in 2012 and matched by Mike Schmidt, Jr. at Fairview in 2013.
Brown and his good friend Gardner have now combined to win the last four Lebanon County amateur golf titles.
“It’s our county amateur,” said Brown, who is well decorated outside the county as well. “I do take pride in it. When I started out playing golf, I wasn’t very good. I learned how to win. I learned to let it come to you.
“I kind of look at the county as a stepping stone,” continued Brown. “But I look at all the names who won the County Amateur and I always say it’s an honor to be among them. I’m always competitive.”
“He’s one of the most consistent players I know,” said Kersey. “His strengths are everything. He doesn’t get into a lot of trouble.”
Locked into a battle with Kersey in the final group, Brown may have struck the decisive blow with a 35-foot birdie bomb on the 370-yard, par-four 11th hole. That gave him a two-stroke shot lead over Kersey, and all that was left for Brown to do was play par golf down the stretch and match Kersey’s short birdie putt at the par-five 17th.
“When he made a birdie on 14 and I missed, I knew it was getting tighter,” said Brown of Kersey. “I really didn’t know where I was (in relation to the lead). It always seems like Cody is coming in second. It was nice to hold him off.
“I get nervous like anybody else,” added Brown. “I try to rely on practice. I feel very humbled to win it again. A lot of the better golfers are here, but at 51, you hear people say they’re not sure they’re going to be able to win another. I’m just glad I could do it.”
Brown entered the day two shots off Rowe’s pace. He needed eight holes to reach four-under for the day and six-under for the tournament.
After sticking his approach shot on the par-four opening hole, Brown rolled in similar four-foot birdie putts at the par-five fourth and seventh holes. He capped off his outburst with a 15-foot birdie at the 398-yard, par-four Number Eight.
“When you get off to a birdie start it puts the shift in the right direction,” said Brown. “I knew Cody was going to hit good shots. It’s nice to know you did it under pressure.
“I thought Mat (Rowe) played well,” Brown continued. “I never met him before. He played well through seven holes, and he was still one up. I told him I think it’s a pretty good stepping stone.”
While Brown got off to a fast start, Kersey opened his round with six consecutive pars. He matched Brown’s birdie at the par-five seventh after misfiring on a short eagle putt.
“I shot 68 and lost by a shot,” said Kersey. “It kind of stinks. I’ve finished second like five times.
“I was happy how I hit the ball,” continued Kersey. “But I wasn’t happy how I played.”
Kersey put a little heat on Brown with a 12-foot birdie on the par-four tenth. He suffered his only bogey of the day at the par-four Number 12, but then rolled in a four-foot for birdie at the par-five 14th.
“I knew if I made it it would give me a chance if he missed it,” said Kersey of his six-foot birdie at the par-five 17th. “I wanted to get off to a good start, but it was kind of flat. I left a lot putts short.”
Steve Allwein won the second flight with a second-day 75 and a 148 total, which was a shot better than Tony Deraco, tournament director Justin Arnt and Doug Swanson. The third flight went to Tom Plunket and his 80-77=157.
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Lebanon County Amateur Golf Championship
1989 — Joe Faller, 146, MV
59th Annual Lebanon County Amateur Golf Championship
(At 6,305-yard, par-71 Fairview Golf Course)
Dan Brown 69-67 – 136
Cody Kersey 69-68 – 137
Brian Auman 72-69 - 141
Jim Gardner 71-70 – 141
Mat Rowe 67-75 – 142
Darren Lutz 70-74 – 144
John DiGiacomo 73-73 – 146
Chris Gebhard 71-75 – 146
Noah Firestone 75-73 – 148
Tyler Massar 74-74 – 148
Steve Allwein 73-75 – 148
Tony Deraco 76-73 – 149
Justin Arnt 75-74 – 149
Doug Swanson 70-79 -149
Jeff Hoke 74-76 – 150
Steve Sherk 77-76 -153
Skeet Wentling 75-79 – 154
Ryan Weaber 77-78 155
Jeff True 77-78 – 155
Kerry Wentling 76-79 – 155
Tom Plunket 80-77 – 157
Jesse Brown 76-81 – 157
Eric Boltz 74-84 – 158
Jordan Rhen 81-78 – 159
Jon Hurst 88-74 – 162
Perry Umlauf 83-79 – 162
Jim Pesta 85-81 – 166
Jon Day 78-90 – 168
Raymond Buckman 85-89 – 174