MYERSTOWN – In a different life, Kerry Wentling was known as ‘Ace’. He could hit a baseball a country mile and baffle opposing batters with pinpoint control and accuracy.
These days, Wentling plays a different game. But he can still drive a ball a long, long way, and his touch around the green is just as deft as it was on a mound.
On Friday afternoon, Wentling’s overall athletic ability played a large role in his winning the 27th edition of the one-day Lebanon County Senior Amateur Golf championship on his first try. Wentling scorched his home course Lebanon Valley, a 5,761-yard, par-71 test, for a five-under par score of 66.
Wentling’s winning round was two shots lower than Logan Sheetz, who fired a three-under 68. Wentling and Sheetz were the only two contestants to card rounds under par, as Ron Heisey and Perry Umlauf tied for third with 72s.
Defending champ Bill Massar, Jr. and Jeff True checked in with 73s, while Tony Deraco was another two strokes back at 75. Dave Snader was alone at 76, and Bruce Gwin and Greg Zidik fired 77s.
Thanks to bogeys at holes eight and nine, Wentling made the turn at a modest one-under par, before scorching LVGC’s back nine for a four-under par score of 31. Wentling, a former star baseball player for Northern Lebanon High School and Fredericksburg American Legion clubs, counted 25 putts, six birdies, an eagle and three bogeys during his mostly up roller coaster ride.
“I didn’t really know where I stood,” said Sheetz. “I thought I shot myself in the foot at Number 14, but I got it right back with an eagle on 15. Coming down 18, I was three-under par and someone told me Kerry was four-under. But he birdied 17 and that was pretty much it.
“I kind of would like to know where I stand (in relation to the leader), so I know what I have to do,” added Sheetz. “Not that it would’ve made a difference.”
“I heard Logan Sheetz was two-under after nine,” said Wentling, who played in the next-to-last group of the day. “I know Logan is a really good golfer and I figured he was going to make a couple more birdies. But I knew I had a chance for me. I knew I was having a good round.
“When I birdied 13, that put me at three under,” Wentling continued. “I thought, ‘I’ve got to play smart here. I’ve got a chance.'”
Wentling’s birdie at the par-three 13 came from the 20-foot range and followed up the three-footer he had rolled in at the 320-yard, par-four tenth. Then Wentling knocked in a six-foot birdie at the par-five 15th, before driving the green at the 265-yard, par-four 17th and two-putting for birdie.
“I shouldn’t have bogeyed eight or nine,” said Wentling, a practicing dentist in Myerstown. “It was a good round for me. I had a little luck. I hit two shots between trees and they ended up on the green. And I made a 15-foot par putt on number six.
“I’ve only played this well one or two other times,” added Wentling, “and they were at Lebanon Valley. That helps. I consider it my home course. I’ve started thinking, ‘Now I’ve got to defend this.'”
Wentling’s round started a bit rough with a bogey at the par-four opening hole, but he quickly got it back with a five-foot birdie at the par-three third hole. He tapped in for birdie at the par-five fifth, then eagled the par-five seventh from 15 feet to reach three-under par.
“My goal was to shoot a 68 or a 70,” said Wentling. “I’ve been playing pretty well this year, so I knew I could do it. I had to diminish my bogeys and capitalize on my birdie putts.
“I played in the County Amateur, but I never played in the County Senior before,” Wentling continued. “I decided to play because it was my home course. I usually work on Fridays, so I never planned to play before. I thought maybe I could win The Senior. Plus a lot of my friends play in it.”
Standing at three-under par, Sheetz hit his tee shot at the 120-yard, par-three 14th hole ‘fat and off the toe’ and it resulted in a penalty and a double bogey. Sheetz responded with a 30-foot eagle from the fringe of the 15th green, but the damage had been done.
“Actually I had a number in mind,” said Sheetz, who finished second for the second time in four career tries at the County Senior. “I thought if I shot four-under I’d have a pretty good shot. I got close to that. Kerry played outstanding and he deserved it. Talk about a solid round. That was a solid round. I shot three-under and got close.
“I played solid, except for number 14,” Sheetz added. “For the most part, if I missed greens, I got up and down. I thought if I played decent I might be in contention. I know if I play a solid round I can post a number.”
With birdies at holes Number One, Three and Five, Sheetz got to three-under early. He gave one shot back with a bogey at Number Six, then parred the next four holes before rolling in a six-foot bird at the par-four 11th.
“Kerry and I play a lot of team matches together on the weekend,” said Sheetz. “He’s a solid golfer. He can hit the ball fairly long, and he’s good around the greens.
“Congrats to Kerry,” continued Sheetz. “It was an outstanding round. The pins were set up pretty hard. It was fairly challenging.”
|2014 Lebanon County Senior|
|5||Bill Masser, Jr.||73|
Lebanon County Senior Amateur Golf Tournament