BY JEFF FALK
LICKDALE – When you get on a hot streak, you’ve got to ride it as long as you can. And it’s funny how when you get hot that sometimes good fortune smiles upon you as well.
Bill Massar, Jr. and Dave Berkheimer were both good and fortunate in winning the championship of the 24th annual Lebanon County Better-Ball-of-Partners golf tournament, Sunday afternoon on Monroe Valley’s par-72, 7,000-yard test. First Massar got hot, then they caught some breaks and finally Berkheimer closed the deal.
Massar, Jr. and Berkheimer defeated Jesse Brown and Darren Lutz in a three-hole playoff to win the County’s final amateur ‘major’ of the summer, after the duos finished their two rounds of medal play with identical seven-under-par scores of 137. Berkheimer’s par on the third playoff hole – the 530-yard, par-five 18th – proved to be decisive, after Brown’s ten-footer for par slid by the cup.
Both Lutz and Brown had chances to win the tournament in regulation, but each of their 10-foot birdie putts on the same 18th hole weren’t true. Brown-Lutz had entered the day in a tie for first-place, and with a two shot advantage over Massar-Berkheimer, who counted 69 strokes during Saturday’s opening round.
With Massar catching fire, his team carded a four-under par 69 over their Sunday round. Brown-Lutz carded a two-under 70, to go with their Saturday score of 68.
Defending champs Steve Allwein and Mike Schmidt, Jr. finished third with a six-under par total of 68-70=138. First-day co-leaders Tom Kintzer and Greg Behney collected a 67-72=139, while Brady Demey and Justin Arnt fired a 68-71=139.
Coming in sixth with a 71-69=140 was the team of Tony Deraco and Tim Leeper.
“It’s a prestigious tournament,” said Massar. “All of the county tournaments I try to play in. It’s our tournament. It’s our championship. I know most people don’t think so, but to me it’s as important as the Sullivan tournament. I get up for this as much as I get up for that.
“I’m excited,” Massar continued. “I finally did it. I’m running out of time. This is my first time play with Dave, but I think I came in third (with other partners) a couple of times. Lately, it’s been like the first flight.”
“It was a good match,” said Brown of the playoff. “We got in trouble (on 18) with the trees on the left and the trees on the right. But he’s (Massar) a good player. He’s a good putter. He’s just a good solid player.”
“That hole, cost us twice,” said Lutz of 18.
On the first two holes of the playoff, Massar matched Lutz’s birdie with one of his own at the par-four 16th, while both teams parred the par-three 17th. Tree trouble for both Lutz and Brown on their second shots at 18 ultimately led to bogeys, and made Berkheimer’s par there the tournament-winning score.
“He’s awesome,” said the 29-year-old Berkheimer of the 49-year-old Massar. “He’s a beast. He hit everything so well today. I think he missed one shot today.”
“I would’ve bet my shoes that he would’ve made that putt,” said Massar of Brown’s ten-foot attempt on 18.
Massar sank birdie putts on four of the last five holes to get his team into playoff contention.
“After that bogey at 13, I got mad,” said Massar, a two-time County Amateur champion. “I told myself, ‘I’m not going to knock the ball into the hole, I’m going to will it in. But Dave calmed me down. I never played this solidly before. He was getting pars and when he did that it freed me up for birdie attempts. I made long putts this weekend, and most people didn’t.
“I hit a lot of greens,” Massar added. “I was in some sort of zone. Maybe I was just so tired from working the 12-8 shift the last two nights that I wasn’t aware of it. But this was the first time I was in it this year.”
Massar followed up his eagle at the 510-yard, par-five sixth with a birdie at the par-five seventh. But he and Berkheimer gave one back to par at the par-four ninth and made the turn at two-under.
“I thought we would probably need 65 or 66 today,” said Massar. “I really did. But I think the wind stopped good play and the greens were hard to read. I missed a putt on 17 and I said, ‘that’s going to hurt us.’ But I didn’t hear about anybody doing any good.”
Before Massar and Berkheimer made their late charge, Brown and Lutz had enjoyed a precarious edge most of the day. An eagle at number six and a birdie at number seven had put them in the driver’s seat – three under for the day and eight-under for the event.
But Brown and Lutz gave two strokes back to par at the first two par-fours on the back-nine. And the only birdie they managed over the second nine came at the 410-yard, par-four 16th.
“We were inside four-feet on 18, both of us,” said Brown. “That was to win it. We weren’t 100 percent sure, but we thought we had to make it.
“We thought four-under today would probably be good,” Brown added. “If we would’ve shot 68, we would’ve won it. We played great, but we didn’t make any putts.”
Allwein and Schmidt got it going on the back-nine, birdieing three of the last four holes for a four-under-par 32. But ultimately their two-over score of 38 on the front nine prevented them from being part of the playoff.
Kintzer and Behney made enough pars – 14 – to make a push towards the lead, but not enough birdies – three. Alternating between bogeys and birdies, Demey and Arnt never rose above one-under par and into contention.
Meanwhile, Josh Kreiser and Steve Anspach pieced together a three-under-par 69 to win the first flight by three hots. The second flight went to Scot Adams, Dave Winters and their 79-68=147.
|2012 Lebanon County Better Ball
|Player 1||Player 2||Sat||Sun||Total||Place|
Lebanon County Better Ball Champions
|Bill Massar, Jr.-Dave BerkheimerNo tournament due to flooding||69-68-137||Monroe Valley||20122011|
|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|