BY JEFF FALK
MYERSTOWN – History has the power to bring things into perspective. In many ways, history is the greatest competition because it compares teams, coaches and players from different eras.
So, it is somehow ironic that Jim Gardner has forged his place in history by simply focusing on the things he does.
On a bright Sunday at Lebanon Valley’s 6,136-yard, par-71 golf course, Gardner made some fairly significant history by winning the Lebanon County Amateur golf championship for a fourth time. Gardner posted a final round 71, or even par, for a record-total of 134, to capture the 61st edition of the county amateur by four strokes.
After posting a Lebanon County amateur record of 63 during Saturday’s opening round, Gardner had more than enough to hold off runners-up Kerry Wentling and defending champion Tyler Massar, who posted 138 totals of 66-72 and 71-67, respectively. But it was not without a little drama.
Skeet Wentling, Tony Deraco, Perry Umlauf and Steve Allwein finished in a tie for fourth, with similar 143 totals, or one-over par. Another shot back was John DiGiacomo’s 71-73=144, while Dan Brown recorded a total of 71-74=145 and Darren Lutz had a 72-74=146.
Now, only one other player in the history of the Lebanon County Amateur has won more titles than Gardner’s four, and that’s the legendary Bob Page, who captured five. Also, Gardner’s winning total of 134, or eight-under par, was the lowest winning score ever at the County amateur.
“My place in history?,” said Gardner. “I love playing golf. I try to get the best out of my game. There is a part of me who doesn’t know if I’m as good as those guys. But if you look back on some of the tournaments I won, I guess I’m better than I think I am.
“I’m humble,” continued Gardner. “I know how hard it is to win. I’m not getting any younger. I love competing and seeing how I can do, and it is nice winning. I don’t think about it as making history. Any weekend, you don’t know how you’re going to play. I just focus on that weekend, and if anything extra comes out of it that’s special, great.”
After weathering charges by Wentling and Massar over Lebanon Valley’s front nine, Gardner righted the ship on the back.
Gardner struck for birdies of eight-feet at number ten and a shorter one at the par-four 17th. He endured three bogeys in-a-row, at Numbers 13, 14 and 15, but for the most part did an admirable job of damage control.