FREDERICKSBURG – There’s always a lot of talk about the three ‘C’s – chemistry, compatability and companionship – at better-ball events. And this 29th edition of the Lebanon County Bettter-of-Partners tournament certainly featured a lot of talented teams.
But because of their skill sets, career records and balance, the team of Jim Gardner and Chris Gebhard was the best collection of two individual players. And the best team won.
On a muggy Sunday at the 6,110-yard, par-71 Blue Mountain Golf Course, the cream rose to the top, as Gebhard and Gardner captured their first county better-ball championship together, with a final round of 63, or eight-under par. Gardner-Gebhard had entered the second day of the tournament facing a two-shot deficit, but their total of 66-63=129 proved to be good enough for a somewhat comfortable four -shot triumph.
Finishing as the runners-up were Mike Schmidt, Jr. and Pete Parpagene – one of three first-round co-leaders – who fired a second-day 69 for a 36-hole total of 133 or nine-under par. Third place went to the squad of Dan Mohn and Kerry Schneck, and their 64-72=137 total.
Four teams – Mike Spangler-Luke Spangler, Justin Arnt-Skeet Wentling, Don Johnson-Shaun Verneson and Sam Shrefler-Steve Van Der Ploog – finished in a tie for fourth place, at 137 or five-under par.
Previously, Gardner had captured Lebanon County Better-Ball-of-Partners titles with Brian Auman in 2014 and 2009, and Jim Calhoun in 1997. Gebhard had claimed a county better-ball championship with Brian Boltz in 1996.
Together, Gebhard and Gardner had finished second at the Lebanon County Better-Ball the last two years.
Gardner and Gebhard played even-par golf through the first nine holes of Saturday’s opening round. But over their final 27 holes of the tournament, they went a combined 13-under par.
“I told him ‘We finished second the last two years. There’s room for improvement,'” said Gebhard of his partner. “Then we went out and shot even-par on the front-nine of our first round. But our timing was really good. On the holes he struggled, I played well. When you shoot 63, you’ve got to have good timing.
“Coming into today, we were two shots back of three teams,” continued Gebhard. “But there was only one team I was worried about. Parp and Schmidty are a pretty formidable team.”
Gardner and Gebhard took control of the outcome on Sunday’s front-nine, firing a six-under par 30 to establish a three-shot advantage over Mohn-Schneck and a five-stroke cushion over both Schmidt-Parpagene and Spangler-Spangler.
Gardner and Gebhard alternated birdies at the par-four opening hole and the par-four third hole, before Gardner drained a 20-foot eagle putt on the par-four sixth to get them to four-under for their round and nine-under for the tournament. Gardner also rolled in medium-range birdie putts at the 530-yard, par-five eighth hole and the 380-yard, par-four ninth hole.
“Yesterday (Saturday), I felt we played better than our score showed,” said Gardner. “We got off to a good start today (Sunday). That was the key.”
“Jimmy played great on the front-nine,” said Gehard. “That really set us up to play better on the back-nine. I was surprised when we got through 15 holes and heard how everybody was doing. I thought we were in the lead, but I didn’t think it was a significant lead. I thought we’d have to do better.”
Gebhard-Gardner put even more distance between themselves and the field with Gebhard’s 20-foot birdie putt at the 447-yard, par-five 13th hole. Gebhard’s 15-foot birdie at the par-four 18th was merely icing on the cake.
“When we play at a golf course like this, it’s a putting contest,” said Gebhard. “It’s not a golf course that demands great ball-striking.”
“As long as you’re driving well,” said Gardner, “you’ll have wedges in.”
The only birdie Schmidt and Parpagene could muster on the front-nine came at the par-four sixth hole. They did team for five birdies on the back-nine, but endured two bogeys there as well.
“I said if we shoot the same score again, we’d win. And we would’ve won by one,” said Schmidt. “We were down five shots at the turn, and we thought it was one or two. At that point, you’re still trying to win. But they (Gardner and Gebhard) played good golf.”
“They were a hole ahead of us, and on 14 it seemed like they were playing well,” said Parpagene. “They were teeing off first. They’re two good players.
“We had a good time,” added Parpagene. “We just didn’t make enough putts. Our good shots weren’t good enough.”
Mohn and Schneck posted birdies at the par-five fourth hole and the par-four sixth hole to get their round to one-under par, and their total to eight-under. But they registered two bogeys and no birdies on the back-nine and settled for a 37.
Spangler and Spangler managed a two-over par score of 37 on their front nine. They eagled the par-five 13th, but gave it right back with a double bogey at the par-four 14th.
Meanwhile, another father-son combo, Tim Leeper and Chad Leeper took top honors in the first flight with a 71-66=137 total. The championship of the second flight was garnered by Jared Brandt-Chad Smaltz, who recorded a 75-70=145.
The gold flight went to Jeff Pyles and Skip Krick, who carded a 67-67=134.
|Dan Brown and Ryan Woefling
|Mike Potts and Jesse Brown
|Justin Arnt and Skeet Wentling
|Mike Schmidt, Jr and Pete Parpagene
|Don Johnson and Rick Troutman
|Brian Auman and Jim Gardner
|Mike Schmidt Jr. and Ryan Weaber
|Bill Massar Jr. and Dave Berkheimer
|No tournament due to flooding
|Steve Allwein and Mike Schmidt
|Jim Gardner and Brain Auman
|Tom Kintzer and Greg Behney
|Stu Hanford and Don Johnson
|Perry Umlauf and Shawn Cooper
|Dan Brown and Andy Gibbons
|Dan Brown and Andy Gibbons
|Dan Brown and Chad Schulze
|Bob Wenrich and John Hacunda
|John Digiacomo and Blaine Peffley
|Joe Faller and Phil Faller
|Jim Gardner and Jim Calhoun
|Pete Gebhard and Dave Kurtz
|Pete Gebhard and Dave Kurtz
|Mark Ditzler and Tom Sherk
|Jeff Pyles and Jeff Behney
|Rick Troutman and Pete Gebhard
|Joe Faller and Dave Kurtz
|Bob Page and Bill Shoop