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BY JEFF FALK

MYERSTOWN – It’s high-stakes, high-pressure golf.

It is the physical manifestation of ‘How low can you go?’

And you probably shouldn’t exhale, because you can never have enough birdies.

On a hot Saturday during the opening round of the 33rd annual Lebanon County Better-Ball-of-Partners Tournament, many of the locale’s most talented players torched Lebanon Valley’s 6,136-yard, par-71 lay-out for some of the event’s lowest scores in recent memory. With birdies flying everywhere, the aggressive shot making produced a first-round, three-way deadlock for first-place, at nine-under par 62.

Tied for the lead heading into what should be a wild final round on Sunday are the tandems of Justin Arnt-Skeet Wentling, Dave Albright-Scot Adams and Steve Sherk-Dave Hoover. One shot back are the defending champions, Jim Gardner-Chris Gebhard, who carded a 63.

Another stroke back is the team of Dan Brown-Brian Auman. Three teams – Mat Rowe-Ryan Woelfling, Tyler Massar-Scott Heckard and Rusty Ditzler-Russ Ditzler – fired scores of 66 or five-under par.

“These guys are really good players,” said Sherk. “I thought the leaders would have at least 62, or better. Coming in, I was hoping we’d shoot something under par. I never thought we’d shoot 62. I would’ve been happy with a 67 or 68.”

“It’s full steam ahead, all of the time, because these players are too good,” said Adams. “You can expect a lot of birdies on this course because it’s not too long. It’s (62) definitely a good score, but you’re going to have to duplicate that to win. I think the scores are going to be in the low 60s again tomorrow.”

“There are a lot of good teams here,” said Wentling. “There are veteran guys who know how to play. It’s a good field. That’s what you want. You want to compete against the best. From the time you show up, it’s go time. You’ve got to make birdies.”

Arnt and Wentling, who won this event together in 2017, birdied four of their first four holes, then made the turn at six-under par. They also finished strong, with birdies in three of their last five holes.

“Coming in, we had a number in mind – 62,” said Arnt. “We played as well as we thought we could. He (Wentling) was in for par, when I had a lot of birdie tries. When that happens, it makes a big difference.”

“The tees were up,” said Wentling. “That makes a big difference. Some of those holes don’t necessarily become birdie holes if the tees aren’t up. Tomorrow, if you come out with a 62, you win.”

It was Adams’ 35-foot birdie putt on the difficult 473-yard, par-four fourth hole that seemed to ignite his side. That got he and Albright to two-under par, before they registered birdies on three of their next four holes, and later an eagle at the 530-yard, par-five 15th hole.

“I don’t know if we have a game plan,” said Adams. “We just kept putting the ball in spots for good putts and makeable chances. We played together in a practice round earlier in the week and shot 64, so we’re very happy. But there are a lot of good teams close to us.”

Sherk and Hoover started birdie-birdie, before recording eagles on both par-fives on the front – Numbers Five and Seven. They got their round to eight-under par with back-to-back birdies at the par-three 14th hole and the par-five 15th.

“We both played really good,” said Sherk. “We got off to a hot start. The greens were a little slower than I expected them to be, but they were fair. You can get pins on this course that are difficult.”

Gardner and Gebhard birdied their first three holes on the way to a five-under par front-nine. Brown and Auman got off to a similar start and were at six-under par until Auman rolled in a ten-foot birdie putt at the 373-yard, par-four closing hole.

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

33rd Annual Lebanon County Better-Ball-of-Partners

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

Opening Round

Sherk/Hoover6210:08
Albright/Adams62
Arnt/Wentling6210:00
Gebhard/Gardner63
Brown/Auman649:52
Rowe/Woelfling66
Massar/Heckard669:44
Ditzler/Ditzler66
Mohn/Schneck679:36
Kersey/Kreiser67
Seidel/Verneson679:28
Wentling/Umlauf68
Miller/Fake689:20
Massar/Anderson68
Parpagene/Schmidt689:12
Fake/Layser68
Hoke/Fairbanks699:04
Snader/Nolt69
Whitman/Weaver708:56
Pesta/Stone70
Day/Day718:48
Boltz/Emerich71
Deraco/Hurst728:40
Leeper/Leeper72
Anspach/Anspach738:32
Faust/Stegman73
Wentling/Shrefler748:24
Killian/Bashore75
Emerich/Hoover758:16
Brandt/Custer78
Brubaker/Brubaker788:00
Brandt/Smaltz78
Kepley/Samuels80

Past Champions

Player NameScoreCourseYear
Chris Gebhard and Jim Gardner66-63-129Blue Mountain2020
Dan Brown and Ryan Woefling63-64-127Pine Meadows2019
Mike Potts and Jesse Brown64-69-133Pine Meadows2018
Justin Arnt and Skeet Wentling66-64-130Lebanon Valley2017
Mike Schmidt, Jr and Pete Parpagene63-66-129Fairview2016
Don Johnson and Rick Troutman68-64-132Fairview2015
Brian Auman and Jim Gardner64-69-133Pine Meadows2014
Mike Schmidt Jr. and Ryan WeaberIron Valley2013
Bill Massar Jr. and Dave Berkheimer68-69-137Monroe Valley2012
No tournament due to flooding2011
Steve Allwein and Mike Schmidt64-68-132Royal Oaks2010
Jim Gardner and Brain Auman60-65-125Fairview2009
Tom Kintzer and Greg Behney66-65-131Blue Mountain2008
Stu Hanford and Don Johnson64-67-131Pine Meadows2007
Perry Umlauf and Shawn Cooper66-66-132Royal Oaks2005
Dan Brown and Andy Gibbons62-67-129Pine Meadows2004
Dan Brown and Andy Gibbons66-60-126Fariview2003
Dan Brown and Chad Schulze61-65-126Lebanon Valley2002
Bob Wenrich and John Hacunda70-64-134Monroe Valley2000
John Digiacomo and Blaine Peffley64-67-131Fairview1999
Joe Faller and Phil Faller65-74-139Monroe Valley1998
Jim Gardner and Jim Calhoun68-67-135Fairview1997
Pete Gebhard and Dave Kurtz70-64-134Fairview1995
Pete Gebhard and Dave Kurtz65-68-133Fairview1994
Mark Ditzler and Tom Sherk69-68-137Fairview1992
Jeff Pyles and Jeff Behney70-68-138Fairview1991
Rick Troutman and Pete Gebhard70-65-135Fairview1990
Joe Faller and Dave Kurtz66-67-133Fairview1989
Bob Page and Bill Shoop68-65-133Fairview1988

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