BY JEFF FALK
NORTH LEBANON – The tournament was their’s to lose. But Jesse Brown and Mike Potts didn’t win it until they stopped playing not to lose.
On a cloudy Sunday morning at the rain-soaked par-72, 6037-yard Pine Meadows Golf Course, Potts and Brown’s aggressive approach and deft-shot making down the stretch produced a championship at the 30th annual Lebanon County-Better-Ball-of-Partners tournament. The first-round leaders, who entered the final day with a three-stroke advantage, carded a three-under-par 69 yesterday for a two-day total of 133, which was eleven-under par and a shot lower than runners-up and defending champions Justin Arnt and Skeet Wentling.
Having given ground and in desperate need of a spark, Brown pitched close at the par-four 16th and calmly sank a four-foot birdie putt. Then at the par-three 17th, Brown chipped in for birdie from 35-feet away, for what would prove to be the winning margin.
The championship didn’t belong to Brown and Potts until Arnt misfired on a potential tying birdie putt from five feet at the par-five 18th.
Arnt and Wentling’s charge left them with a two-round total of 67-67=134. The teams of Tony Deraco-Greg Behney and Tom Kintzer-Justin Kreiser finished in a tie for third place with identical 67-68=135s.
Finishing fifth was the father-son tandem of Tim Leeper-Chad Leeper and their 67-70=137. Tony Ebersole and Jim Murray fired a 68-71=139, while the duos of Eric Boltz-Brock Hoover and Kerry Wentling-Jon Day posted different totals of 140 to come in tied for seventh.
“Jesse wanted to shoot four (under) today,” said Potts. “He was right. If we shoot four, we would’ve won with a cushion. We knew it (the course) was going to play hard today.
“But we had fun,” added Potts. “It was a good weekend for us.”
“We didn’t know where we stood on 16,” said Brown. “When I chipped it in (at number 17), I thought we were one up.”
A bit of a slow start to their round allowed the field to make up ground on Potts and Brown.
After spending much of the first round knocking down pins, Brown and Potts didn’t register a birdie until Potts rolled in a ten-footer at the par-four sixth. Two holes later, Potts struck again, this time from 12 feet away at the 329-yard, par-four eighth.
The duo made the turn at two-under and with most of their head start still intact.
“It was nothing like yesterday,” said Potts. “We were hacking today. But we didn’t make any putts again.
“We gave two shots away at (Number) Ten,” continued Potts. “But Jesse birdied (Number) 11 to get us right back in it.”
Potts and Brown bogeyed the par-five tenth when Potts missed a tap-in from less than an inch away. Their response was Brown’s ten-foot birdie putt at the 349-yard, par-four 11th.
They also suffered a bogey at the par-three 13th.
“One of the keys is that we played well yesterday (Saturday),” said Brown. “We had fun. This is our home course. We had an advantage.”
“He’s consistent,” said Potts of Brown. “There’s no pressure when you play with Jesse. It just is what it is.
“I’m happy because we’re members here,” Potts added. “That’s a plus. But the biggest thing that it means to me is that I have a county championship and Cody (Kersey) does not.”
“Jesse chipped in at 17 and we heard it,” said Arnt. “And I missed on 18, and that was the tournament. I just flared it (on 18).”
“It always hurts when you lose by one,” said Skeet Wentling. “I’m mad. I’m pissed. I’m not happy. I’m going to lose sleep over it. We wanted to win. But we gave it hell.”
S. Wentling and Arnt began their charge at the par-five tenth hole, where Arnt knocked home a short birdie try. It gained steam with back-to-back birdies from Arnt at the par-four 15th and the par-four 16, which got them to five-under for the day and ten-under for the tournament.
“I made a lot of birdies, but there were three or four holes where I wasn’t playing well and Skeet kept us going,” said Arnt. “Those were just as important. Some of the pars he made we needed to keep us in it. We thought 65 would be good today. But we had it going
“We had fun,” continued Arnt. “We always team well. He’s not afraid to tell me things and I’m not afraid to tell him things.”
“We have a good partnership,” said S. Wentling. “It seems to work.”
Wentling-Arnt opened their day with a bogey, but they recovered with a 12-foot biride at the 301-yard, par-four fourth. They closed their front-nine at 34, courtesy of short Arnt birdies at Numbers Six and Nine.
“We knew where we were after nine,” said Arnt. “Both teams were two-under and we were three back. Obviously you want to go for it. To make up ground we had to make birdies. We didn’t want to leave anything in the bag. If you get a chance to go for it you’ve got to go for it.”
Playing with Brown and Potts in the final group, Deraco-Behney encounetered difficulties stringing birdies together. Each of their nines consisted of two birdies and seven pars.
Thanks to back-to-back-to back birdies at Numbers Five, Six and Seven, Kintzer and Kreisser made the turn at three-under par for the day. But a bogey at the par-three 13th all but put them out of contention.
The Leepers’ 70 consisted of birdies at the par-four second and the par-five sixth, and 16 pars.
Murray-Ebersole posted nines of 35 on the front and 36 on the back.
Boltz and Hoover were one-over par on the front and one-under par on the back.
K. Wentling-Day were tw0-under on the back, but couldn’t make up for a 37 on the front.
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Lebanon County Better-Ball
|Justin Arnt and Skeet Wentling||66-64-130||Lebanon Valley||2017|
|Mike Schmidt, Jr and Pete Parpagene||63-66-129||Fairview||2016|
|Don Johnson and Rick Troutman||68-64-132||Fairview||2015|
|Brian Auman and Jim Gardner||64-69-133||Pine Meadows||2014|
|Mike Schmidt Jr. and Ryan Weaber||Iron Valley||2013|
|Bill Massar Jr. and Dave Berkheimer||68-69-137||Monroe Valley||2012|
|No tournament due to flooding||2011|
|Steve Allwein and Mike Schmidt||64-68-132||Royal Oaks||2010|
|Jim Gardner and Brain Auman||60-65-125||Fairview||2009|
|Tom Kintzer and Greg Behney||66-65-131||Blue Mountain||2008|
|Stu Hanford and Don Johnson||64-67-131||Pine Meadows||2007|
|Perry Umlauf and Shawn Cooper||66-66-132||Royal Oaks||2005|
|Dan Brown and Andy Gibbons||62-67-129||Pine Meadows||2004|
|Dan Brown and Andy Gibbons||66-60-126||Fariview||2003|
|Dan Brown and Chad Schulze||61-65-126||Lebanon Valley||2002|
|Bob Wenrich and John Hacunda||70-64-134||Monroe Valley||2000|
|John Digiacomo and Blaine Peffley||64-67-131||Fairview||1999|
|Joe Faller and Phil Faller||65-74-139||Monroe Valley||1998|
|Jim Gardner and Jim Calhoun||68-67-135||Fairview||1997|
|Pete Gebhard and Dave Kurtz||70-64-134||Fairview||1995|
|Pete Gebhard and Dave Kurtz||65-68-133||Fairview||1994|
|Mark Ditzler and Tom Sherk||69-68-137||Fairview||1992|
|Jeff Pyles and Jeff Behney||70-68-138||Fairview||1991|
|Rick Troutman and Pete Gebhard||70-65-135||Fairview||1990|
|Joe Faller and Dave Kurtz||66-67-133||Fairview||1989|
|Bob Page and Bill Shoop||68-65-133||Fairview||1988|