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 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.

 “Overall I didn’t play as solid today,” said Gardner, who also won in 2016, 2015 and 2006. “Kerry put pressure on me right away. I wanted to shoot something in the 60s. I didn’t really have a number in mind but I was looking at 68 or 69.

 “I was thinking that would eliminate the foursome ahead of us,” continued Gardner. “Then all I had to do was keep an eye on the group I’m in. I think starting out it was a little defensive. Maybe less relaxed swings, maybe guiding it a little bit. But I’ve been around long enough to know that’s not going to work.”

 Gardner had given two strokes back to par with bogeys at the 342-yard, par-three second hole and the 497-yard, par-five fifth hole. But he rebounded with birides at the par-three sixth hole and the par-four eighth hole, before chipping in for birdie at the 426-yard, par-four ninth hole.

 “The one I won at Blue Mountain was 27 holes, and the next one, at Pine Meadows, kind of validated it,” said Gardner. “Just winning any, I’m extremely happy. Golf is tough. Having the lead and seeing if you can keep your emotions in check, it’s difficult.

 “As I get older, anything I win is rewarding,” added Gardner. “You never know how many you’re going to win. I’ve been lucking enough to have good partners over the years. We all practice together and drive each other to have more success. They’re supportive. But when we’re out there playing, we’re trying to beat each other. The competitive nature is there.”

 Down three shots to Gardner, K. Wentling went to work applying pressure on him with birdies at Numbers Five and Six, and yet another eagle, at the 470-yard, par-five seventh. Thanks to another birdie, at the par-four ninth, K. Wentling made the turn tied with Gardner.

 But a triple bogey at the par-four 11th would prove to be the beginning of K. Wentling’s down fall, and bogeys at Numbers 12 and 13 ensued. He ended up posting a score of 40, or five-over par, on the back.

 “I was trying to play hole-by-hole,” said K. Wentling. “I wanted to stay with my game. I knew Jimmy was steady, but I was just happy to be in that position with nine holes to go. Besides one tee shot, I didn’t hit the ball that bad.

 “I loved being in the last group,” Wentling added. “I thought to myself, ‘It doesn’t get any better than this. I’m having fun.’ I was thinking, ‘I haven’t been here before. I may never be here again.’ Second’s good. I just didn’t want to blow up.”

  Second was also a rewarding finish for Massar, given last year’s title and where he started Sunday’s final round.

 Courtesy of birdies on four of his first five holes, Massar got his tournament total to four-under par and to within two strokes of Gardner and the lead. But he couldn’t sustain his charge.

 “I started really well and I thought I had a chance,” said Massar. “I was thinking if I got to six- or seven-under, I’d be OK. But I probably needed to get to eight (under).

 “My goal was to get second, because I anticipated, at the worst, Jimmy was going to shoot even-par,” added Massar. “I felt very confident coming into the tournament. I’m happy with second.”

 Skeet Wentling’s 70 on Sunday consisted of four birdies, 11 pars and three bogeys.

 Cody Kersey and his 76-71=147 took top honors in the first flight, following a matching of cards with Justin Arnt and Mat Rowe. Steve Sherk won the second flight by two strokes.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

To purchase images in this article email jkfalk2005@yahoo.com.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lebanon County Amateur Golf Championship

Past Champions
(Year, Player, Score and Course)
 2019 – Jim Gardner, 134 LV
 2018 – Tyler Massar, 136, BM
2017 – Dan Brown, 136, FV
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
2008 — 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)
1994 — 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
1982 — 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
1964 — 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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 61st Annual ebanon County Amateur Golf Championship 

 (at 6,136-yard, par-71 Lebanon Valley Golf Course)

 Final Results

Championship Flight

Jim Gardner 63-71 – 134

Tyler Massar 71-67- 138

Kerry Wentling 66-72 – 138

Skeet Wentling 73-70 – 143

Tony Deraco 71-72 – 143

Perry Umlauf 70-73 – 143

Steve Allwein 66-77 – 143

John DiGiacomo 71-73 – 144

Dan Brown 71-74 – 145

Darren Lutz 72-74 – 146

First Flight 

Cody Kersey 76-71 – 147

Justin Arnt 70-77 – 147

Mat Rowe 70-77 – 147

Bill Massar, Jr. 75-74 – 149

Jeff Hoke 75-75 – 150

Ryan Woelfling 79-72 – 151

Jon Day 75-76 – 151

Rusty Ditzler 79-75 – 154

Jeff True 76-80 – 156

Dave Albright  78-79 – 157

Second Flight

Steve Sherk 78-79 – 157

Dave Snader 80-79 – 159

Aaron Miller 82-79 – 161

Russ Ditzler 78-83 – 161

Jordan Rhen 84-78 – 162

Tom Plunket 83-79 – 162

Jim Pesta 87-78 – 165

Steve O’Neal 88-84 – 172

Chris Padovani 86-92 – 178

 

 

 

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