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IMG_2412BY JEFF FALK

FREDERICKSBURG – Jimmy Gardner is an historian, a student of the game, and he displays a lot of respect for the tradition of the County Amateur. So when he was able to take a step back – and a deep breath –  he began to realize the magnitude of what he had just accomplished.

But because of his humility and modesty, Gardner struggled to put into words the importance of his achievements.

On Sunday at the 6,363-yard, par-72 Pine Meadows Golf Course, Gardner scored an historically significant triumph at the 58th annual Lebanon County Amateur Championship. Not only was his margin of victory – seven strokes – one of the largest in recent memory, Gardner’s title made him the first competitor in 18 years to record back-to-back victories.

IMG_2405In addition, Gardner became only the third golfer in the history of the event to win at least three championships overall.

Gardner posted an even-par score of 72 on Sunday, which coupled with an opening round 67, gave him a 36-hole total of 139, or five under par. Chris Gebhard was the runner-up – for a record sixth time – but distantly, with a total of 74-72=146.

With his 72-75=146, tournament director Justin Arnt finished third, while Tony Deraco and John DiGiacomo came in tied for fourth with 148s.. Three players posted totals of 149 or five-over par, Cody Kersey, Billy Massar, Jr. and Steve Anspach.

“Yeah, it is very good,” said Gardner. “At Blue Mountain, when I won my first one, it was 27 holes, so it wasn’t a full thing. Last year validated it. This one here, tops it off. Yeah, three, that’s pretty good.

“I played a lot of baseball growing up,” continued Gardner. “But when baseball’s gone, golf drives your competitive spirit. I put a lot of time in. I practice a lot. There’s a good group of guys I play with, and we all push each other to be better. We all share tips. We all help each other. When your peers congratulate you, that’s the thing I love.”

IMG_2303Carrying a four-shot advantage into the final round, the field needed Gardner to come back to it a bit. But while Gardner refused to budge, no individual made a serious charge either.

“The biggest thing I think about is  keeping it in  play,” said Gardner. “I may have done that as well for 36 holes as I’ve ever have. I had a lot of up-hill putts, and I was pretty accurate with my irons.

“I never know what’s going on with the guys in front of me,” added Gardner. “But I know they’re good players. When I made a par on (number) 15, I felt comfortable. I knew where the rest of my group (Arnt, Deraco and Danny Brown) stood, and I was one-under. I didn’t know if anyone in front of me made a move, but my gut was maybe they didn’t.”

Gardner birdied Pine Meadows’ 422-yard, par-four first test from three feet, then made the turn at even-par 36. Along the way he bogeyed the par-four third and the par-four fourth, and birdied the par-five fifth after chipping close.

IMG_2375“It’s pretty rewarding,” said Gardner. “When you have the lead, without a doubt, it’s different. It’s so easy to make bogey and have someone else make birdie.

“I did nothing different,” Gardner continued. “I’m still going to play my game. It helped that I birdied number one. Justin (Arnt) was playing well, but then I put some distance between us.”

Gardner birdied the par-five tenth hole from eight feet, and when he turned a similar trick at the par-four 12th, he stood at two-under for the day and seven-under for the tournament. The fact that he endured bogeys at the par-three 13th hole and the par-four 16th was one more for the record book than the score book.



“I’m excited,” said Gardner. “I had a lead and I was able to hold it. There’s a little more pressure involved with the lead. It’s kind of like, ‘Hey, you’ve got a four-stroke lead. You should win’.

IMG_2351“I always enjoy playing this course,” added Gardner. “But there’s a number of holes where you can take a double bogey. But I really didn’t get myself into trouble.”

“He played great,” said Gebhard, who was paired with Gardner during Saturday’s opening round. “He absolutely hit it great. He was a great putter. He’s a great guy and a great guy to play with. Yesterday (Saturday) he played awesome, and it could’ve been better. He made one bogey, but nothing close after that.”

If anyone applied any pressure at all on Gardner, it was Gebhard, and it came early in Sunday morning’s round.

Gebhard rolled in an eight-foot birdie putt at the 388-yard, par-four third hole and two-putted from 12 feet for birdie at the par-five fifth hole. That got him to within five shots of Gardner.

But Gebhard quickly gave those strokes back when he endured a bogey at the par-five sixth hole and a double at the par-three seventh.

IMG_2282“I did not play very well,” said Gebhard. “I just did everything I could do to get around. I never know where I’m going to hit it off the tee. It was a very stressful two days. It took everything to keep it in front of me and find it.

“It’s a golf course I’ve never been comfortable playing on, and that’s when I’m playing well,” added Gebhard. “I got everything I could possibly get out of it. My expectations were pretty low. I have been playing so bad I haven’t enjoyed it. But it’s your responsibility to play in county stuff. That’s the approach I’ve always taken.”

Finishing second in the county amateur six times is almost as an amazing feat as winning it three times. Gebhard also has two Lebanon County Amateur Golf Championships to his credit – the 2003 event at Monroe Valley and the 1996 event at Fairview.

“I’ve historically been very consistent in this tournament,” said Gebhard. “I think it was like ten years in-a-row that I finished in the top five or six. I don’t run very hot-and-cold. I’m not the guy who’s going to go out there and make six or seven birdies. When you’re that guy, you finish around the lead enough that you’re going to come in second a few times.”

IMG_2325Meanwhile, Greg Adams captured the first flight title with a 77-74+151 total that was seven-over par. The second flight went to Mark Novis and his 81-77=158, while Darren Lutz took home top honors in the third flight with an 87-76+163.

To purchase images in this article email jkfalk2005@yahoo.com, or to view more go to www.http://lebanonsportsbuzz.com/gallery-11/.

 

 

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 IMG_232058th Annual Lebanon County Amateur Golf Championship

(at 6,363-yard, par-72 Pine Meadows Golf Course)

 Championship Flight

Jim Gardner 67-72= 139

Chris Gebhard 74-72= 146

Justin Arnt 72-75= 147

Tony Deraco 71-77= 148

John DiGiacomo 72-76- 148

Steve Ansapch 74-75= 149

Cody Kersey 72-77= 149

Bill Massar, Jr. 73-76=149

IMG_2447Dan Brown 71-82= 153

Dave Winters 74-82= 156

First Flight

Greg Adams 77-74= 151

Steve Allwein 78-74= 152

Skeet Wentling 77-76= 153

Nate Wentling 78-78= 156

IMG_2349Jesse Brown 78-79= 157

Mike Potts 79-78= 157

Second Flight

Mark Novis 81-77= 158

Doug Swanson 77-83= 160

Scot Adams 78-83= 161

Tom Plunket 79-82 = 161

Mat Rowe 79-82= 161

Dave Albright 83-79= 162

Chris Padovani 78-84= 162

IMG_2275Eric Boltz 82-81= 163

Tom Kintzer 76-87= 163

Zach Layser 77-86 = 163

Chuck Schwab 83-81= 164

Kerry Wentling 80-84= 164

Jon Day 83-83= 166

Jeff Hoke 80-86= 166

Jordan Rhen 84-82=166

IMG_2198Perry Umlauf 82-85= 167

Chad Leeper 84-85= 169

Third Flight

Darren Lutz 87-76= 163

Grant Harris 85-80= 165

Carl Johnson 90-75 = 165

Jon Hurst 86-81= 167

Ben Caporaletti 87-82= 169

Blaine Weaver 85-85= 170

Jim Pesta 89-91= 180

IMG_2204Bruce Weaver 89-100= 189

Chris Jonovich 96-97= 193

Sean Behney 99-98 = 197

Lebanon County Amateur Golf Championship
Past Champions
(Year, Player, Score and Course)
 2016 – Jim Gardner, 139, PM
2015 – Jim Gardner, 141, LV
2014 – Dan Brown, 140, RO
2013 – Mike Schmidt, Jr., 136, FV
2012 – Tony Deraco, 136 BMV
2011 – Dan Brown, 142, PM
2010 – Ryan Schneiter, MV
2009 — Tim Leeper, 138, LV
IMG_22332008 — Mike Schmidt Jr., 139, RO
2007 — Andy Gibbons, 140, FV
2006 — Jim Gardner, 104 BMV (27 holes)
2005 — Bill Massar Jr., 139 PM
2004 — Blaine Peffley, 144 BM
2003 — Chris Gebhard, 137 MV
2002 — Joe Faller, 139, FV
2001 — Jon DiGiacomo, 145, RO
2000 — Blaine Peffley, 143, FV
1999 — Roger Karsnitz, 146, MV
1998 — Chad Schulze, 139, FV
1997 — Chad Schulze, 144, MV
1996 — Chris Gebhard, 141, FV
1995 — Bill Massar Jr., 71, MV (18 holes)
IMG_23111994 — John Gross, 144, MV
1993 — Mike Schmidt, 143, MV
1992 — Jeff Hoke, 148, MV
1991 — Joe Faller, 147, MV
1990 — Dennis Toomey, 145, MV
1989 — Joe Faller, 146, MV
1988 — Bob Page, 146, MV
1987 — Michael Brooks, 149, MV
1986 — John Gross, 147, MV
1985 — Pete Gebhard, 145, MV
1984 — Bob Page, 139, BM
1983 — Roger Karsnitz, 148, FV
IMG_23181982 — Pete Gebhard, 72, MV (18 holes)
1981 — Stu Ingraham, 140, LV
1980 — Ben Witter, 141, MV
1979 — Tom Lape, 140, BM
1978 — Stu Ingraham, 144, FV
1977 — Russ Ditzler, 145, PM
1976 — Jim Sherman, 138, LV
1975 — Bob Page, 150, MV
1974 — Kye Golembewski, 141, BM
1973 — George Eisley, 147, FV
1972 — Roger Karsnitz, 144, PM
1971 — William Weik, 142, LV
1970 — Paul Ingraham, 157, MV
1969 — Bob Page, 144, BM
1968 — Ron Will, 147, FV
1967 — Bob Page, 139, PM
1966 — William Weik, 143, LV
1965 — Joseph Spesak, 141, BM
IMG_23781964 — Tom Donnachie Jr., 149, FV
1963 — William Weik, 149, LCC
1962 — Joseph Spesak, 140, LV
1961 — Tom Donnachie Jr., 144, FV
1960 — Joseph Spesak, 145, LCC
1959 — George Moeschlin Jr., 144, LV
Key: RO — Royal Oaks, FV — Fairview, MV — Monroe Valley, BM — Blue Mountain, LV — Lebanon Valley, PM — Pine Meadows, LCC — Lebanon Country Club

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