BY JEFF FALK
LEBANON – As darkness and a sunset thunderstorm approached, two bright flashes of light appeared in the western sky, perhaps 30 seconds apart. But in between the bolts, it was Chad Stine’s wedge which produced the true lightning.
Brady Goodling and Noah Firestone didn’t lose the 70th edition of the Sullivan.
Stine and partner Drew Patterson won it.
On Sunday, over the Lebanon Country Club’s 6,562-yard, par-72 layout, Stine and Patterson defeated Goodling and Firestone in dramatic fashion on the 23rd hole of the W.B. Sullivan Better-Ball-of-Partners’ championship flight’s final match. Stine nearly holed his 100-yard approach shot on the fifth extra hole – LCC’s 380-yard, par-four number five – and then calmly sank his two-foot birdie putt to win it.
Stine’s strike brought a conclusion to an up-and-down, back-and-forth championship match in which neither team led by more than two holes, for very long. Both of the final teams had advanced to the championship match with overtime wins in their morning semifinals – Goodling and Firestone edged John Jay and Jared Brechman on the 19th hole, while Stine and Patterson nudged Jeff Frazier and Mike Farlling on the 21st hole.
For Stine and Patterson, a couple of 20-year-olds out of the Hershey-Hummelstown, it was their first Sullivan title, in their first time playing in the prestigious golf tournament together. It was LCC member Goodling’s third straight appearance in the Sullivan championship match, but first with Firestone, who works at the country club.
“They told us it was going to be the last hole because of the weather,” said Stine. “I knew I hit the hybrid good. I stuck it. Perfect distance. Perfect line. Perfect everything.”
“I knew it was close,” said Goodling of Stine’s strike. “But I had a similar shot, and all weekend I had been knocking them within six feet of the hole. I really don’t know what happened over that shot. You’re dead above the hole there.”
It was also Stine who had forced the title bout into overtime with a seven-foot birdie putt on the par-four 18th hole. During ‘bonus golf’ both sides missed opportunities to win it, as they halved hole numbers one through four with pars, birdies, pars and pars, respectively.
“It always seems like to comes down to the last few holes when we’ve got to play well or lose,” said Patterson. “I think the bottom line is that we didn’t want to lose. We want to push each other. We wanted it more than anyone else, so we just made it happen.”
“I’m frustrated, because we had a lot of chances,” said Goodling. “We missed putts by fractions of inches. But it was a good match though.”
The match appeared to be Goodling and Firestone’s to lose after they went two-up on the 523-yard, par-five 15th hole, on the heels of Firestone’s two-foot birdie putt two holes earlier. But Stine shifted the momentum with a 25-foot, downhill birdie putt from the skirt of the par-four 16th’s green.
“I remember on the 16th tee box thinking, ‘If we birdie the next three holes, we’re going to win’,” said Patterson. “We played against Noah in high school. It was a dog fight all day.”
“This is a team thing,” said Stine. “This was the first time Drew and I played in this tournament together. I told him how big of an event it was. But he didn’t see the course before we qualified.”
“We had a lot of opportunities,” said Goodling. “We were two up through two holes. We got two up through 15 holes. We just had to put some good swings on it. We had our chances. We really did. We just couldn’t hold on.”
Stine and Patterson led only once all afternoon, thanks to a ‘long bomb’ on the 433-yard, par-four eighth hole. That lead lasted for four holes, until Goodling stuck his tee shot at the 196-yard, par-three 12th.
“They kept burning edges, and we kept burning edges,” said Patterson of the match’s near-misses. “We’re so tired. We’re exhausted. But we knew if we played as well as we can, that on our best day we’d win.”
“We started leaking from holes ten through 15,” said Stine. “I thought it had been going our way.”
Goodling and Firestone won the first two holes of the afternoon’s championship match. But Patterson and Stine got those holes back at 398-yard, par-four fourth and the par-four sixth.
“Brady’s a solid player,” said Stine. “They’re both awesome players. They just kept making shots.”
“Pretty much all of it came down to a hole or two,” said Goodling. “We hit some good shots. We played OK, but we didn’t play our best.”
The teams of Brixton Albert-Paul Woodson and Joe Russo-Joey Russo shared the top honors in the first flight with corresponding three-day totals of 203, or 13-under par. The second flight was won by Mark DiGiacomo and Billy Marcozzi and their 72-70-64=206.
The third flight went to Tyler Massar and Brady Demmy, who fired a 73-71-67=211. And Mike Turner and Andy Brightbill garnered first place in the fourth flight with their 75-74-68=217.
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