LEBANON – It’s really cool to beat your heated rival. But what’s even more rewarding is getting the better of someone you like and respect.
On a pleasant Friday afternoon at the Lebanon Country Club’s 6,361-yard, par-72 layout, Jim Gardner took his friendly rivalry with Dan Brown to the next level when he defeated him a three-hole playoff to capture the championship of the 35th annual Lebanon County Senior Amateur tournament. After the two had fired matching two-over par scores of 74 in regulation, Gardner edged Brown by a stroke in the three-hole playoff.
The key moment in the playoff, and perhaps the entire one-day tournament, came at the 377-yard, par-four first hole, where Gardner drained an eight-foot birdie putt and Brown had to settle for bogey. Brown got one of those strokes back with a two-putt birdie at the 491-yard, par-five seventh hole, but both parred the 408-yard, par-four eighth hole to give Gardner the title.
Bill Massar, Jr. carded a five-over par 77 to finish third, while Dave Albright posted a 78 to come in fourth. Three golfers recorded 79s, Tony Deraco, Leon Holt and Scott Brown.
For the 52-year-old Gardner, it was a championship in his first ever appearance in the Lebanon County Senior Amateur. He has now won titles in the locale’s four biggest events – the Lebanon County Amateur, the Lebanon County Better-Ball-of-Partners and the W.B. Sullivan Better-Ball-of-Partners tournament – a feat that few, if any, local golfers have ever accomplished.
Gardner also became the 12th different winner of the Senior Amateur over the last 12 years.
For Brown, yesterday marked the second year in-a-row that he was denied his first Lebanon County Senior Amateur crown in a playoff.
“There’s no question that the first playoff hole was the key,” said Gardner. “I thought Danny was in the middle of the fairway. But getting two shots up there was huge.
“It’s nice to win,” added Gardner. “Beating Danny is hard enough. Just playing against him is difficult. I talk to him all the time. He’s so humble. Over the last five years, he’s really elevated his game.”
“My tee ball on Number One was three inches off the right fairway,” said Brown. “I chunked my second shot and Jimmy stuffed his. In a three-hole playoff, he was up two strokes. I got one back on Number Seven, but we both parred Eight.
“Obviously we’re good buddies,” Brown added. “Either one would feel happy if the other one won. I felt like he played very well.”
Paired together throughout their rounds, Gardner and Brown pretty much matched strokes throughout the afternoon.
Gardner got his round to one-under par with back-to-back birdies at the 378-yard, par-four fifth hole and the 350-yard, par-four sixth hole. He made the turn at even-par and with a two-stroke lead over Brown.
“In my experiences, when Danny turns it on, he’s going to go right by me, just like he did at Ten,” said Gardner. “I had him by two stroke, and then boom, it’s even. I just know how well he plays.”
It was Brown’s eagle at the 491-yard, par-five 18th hole that pulled him even with Gardner. Gardner righted the ship with an eight-foot birdie putt at the par-four 13th, before enduring bogeys at Numbers 14 and 17.
“I thought I was one up and he thought he was one down,” said Brown. “But at the end of the round we added up our scores and we were all even. We usually know where the other is. It was back and forth all day. But I’m happy for him.”
“I don’t think too many people have done it,” said Gardner of ‘The Grand Slam of Lebanon County golf’. “It’s a great accomplishment. Obviously, to do that you have to play a long time in a lot of events. If you play in enough events, good things are going to happen.”
Brown again squared his personal battle with Gardner by parring the par-three 12th hole. He also got it back to even with a par at the 152-yard, par-three 14th hole.
“I thought the golf course played tough,” said Brown, 55. “Overall, I played fairly solid. I had two bad chips that cost me bogeys, and I didn’t make a lot of birdies. Luckily, I got that eagle on Number Ten to get even.”
“Mentally, I feel like I’m in my late 30s,” said Gardner. “You still think you can do stuff you did when you were younger. Look, once in a while I have little aches and pains. But physically, I still feel fine.”
Thanks in part to a birdie at the par-five seventh hole, Massar made the turn at one-over par. Albright’s round consisted of two birdies, eight pars and eight bogeys.
Bob Zechman captured the championship of the super seniors’ division with a similar 74.
|Bill Massar, Jr.||2019|
|Bill Massar, Jr.||2013|