BY JEFF FALK
FREDERICKSBURG – Golf is a lifetime game played by people of all ages. But perhaps more than most, golf is a game for the young at heart.
And one would be hard-pressed to find a heart younger than Tommy Kintzer’s.
On a scorching Friday at the 5,558-yard, par-71 Blue Mountain Golf Course, Kintzer drained a 20-foot birdie putt on the par-four 18th hole to win the 29th edition of the one-day Lebanon County Senior Amateur Golf Championship on his first try. Kintzer’s winning round of 69 was one shot lower runner-up Dan Brown, who was also competing in his first county senior amateur.
Former champion Bill Massar, Jr. and Chuck Schwab both fired even-par scores of 71 to finish in a tie for third. Another past champ, Tony Deraco carded a one-over 72.
Also competing in his first senior amateur, Brian Auman, who owns the Blue Mountain course record, registered a 73. Kerry Wentling, the 2014 senior amateur champion, collected a 74, and last year’s winner, Dave Brown counted a 76.
“No, I don’t feel old. Not at all,” said Kintzer. “When I was young, 50 was old. I’m 50, but I feel 35. I didn’t see it coming, but I’m glad I won.
“I’ve been waiting to be a senior all my life,” Kintzer continued. “Brian Auman and Dan Brown, they’re quality golfers and they made the field strong. I just try to keep it steady. My first time as a senior was great. I know the golf course inside and out. I’ve worked here as a superintendent. If there was any chance of me winning this tournament, it was at Blue Mountain.”
“It kind of crept up on me,” said Brown. “Even when I saw Tommy this morning, I said to him, ‘Are you 50?’. I guess we’re getting into that area. I don’t feel it. But Father Time waits for no one.”
Kintzer’s round featured three birdies, one bogey and 14 pars. And it was better late when the wind picked up, than it was early.
“When the wind picked up, I knew it wasn’t going to be a walk in the park. I knew it wasn’t going to be easy,” said Kintzer. “The whole goal was not to make bogey all day. When I play golf, the birdies will come. The golf course will give you shots eventually.
“This course isn’t just about being below the hole,” Kintzer continued. “They had the pins set up that if you didn’t hit it in the right spot, you were going to make bogey. These greens are not easy, by any means. I just tried to keep the game in front of me.”
Cruising along at two-under par, Kintzer was forced to sink a seven-foot putt just to salvage bogey at the relatively easy 286-yard, par-four 17th hole. But he rebounded nicely, with his 20-footer for birdie on the final hole, which originated from below the cup.
“That’s the way golf is. I was playing low key, not too aggressive,” said Kintzer. “When I came here ( number 18) I was a little frustrated, but I made bird and that’s all it took. I was playing conservative, just trying to make birdies when they came. No, I didn’t think it (his 69) was any good. But I know the greens by heart. I was waiting and waiting. I didn’t press.
“In my mind, I really thought five-under was going to win it,” added Kintzer. But the wind picked up. The key is you don’t want to fold early.”
Kintzer patiently played the waiting game for the first seven holes, until it paid off in the form of a short birdie putt at the 494-yard, par-five eighth hole. He reached two-under par with a hard-bending 15-foot birdie putt at the par-three 12th.
“I spazzed my way around on the front nine, and it wasn’t going very good,” said Kintzer. “I told my self, ‘Just be patient’. Then I finally birdied eight. I thought I had to be three-under at the turn.
“I’ve always had that vision of winning the Lebanon County grand slam (senior amateur, the county amateur, the county junior and the county better-ball),” Kintzer added. “Now I’ve won three of them. It’s nice to have goals. I’ve got one more (the county amateur) to go.”
Unlike Kintzer, Brown played better early. His birde on the 344-yard, par-four opening hole got him off on the right foot, and his birdie at the par-three fifth hole put him near the top of the leader board.
Brown offset a bogey at the par-four seventh with a birdie at the par-four ninth, and made the turn at two-under par. But ultimately, Brown’s chances may have been doomed by his inability to make a single birdie on Blue Mountain’s par-fives.
“No I didn’t, now that I think of it,” said Brown of his zero birdies on the par-fives. “I didn’t realize that. I guess you could say that was a little bit of a mistake.
“But it was a good day,” continued Brown. “I played pretty solid. Obviously with my first year turning 50, expectation-wise it was do the best you can and let the chips fall where they may. I felt like I had a chance, but Tommy played great.”
Brown just couldn’t get anything going on the back. He was still at two-under par before taking a bogey at the par-five 15th.
“I was going to be there,” said Brown. “My brother Dave flew in from Iowa to defend his title, and it was fun playing with him. It’s just kind of a natural progression. It kind of is what it is. I like competing, it was a good field and the scores were good.”
Massar, Jr.’s round was a bit of an up-and-down affair and included four birdies, four bogeys and 12 pars. But at no point of his round was he more than one over- or one under- par.
Schwab was a total of three-under par on Blue Mountain’s par-fives. But a total of three-over on the Fredericksburg course’s 14 other holes.
Deraco played one-over par golf on the front nine, and even-par on the back. Auman’s 73 was broken down into nines of 38-35.
Bill Massar, Sr. won the super seniors portion of the competition with a 74.
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29th Annual Lebanon County Senior Amateur Golf Championship
(at 5,558-yard, par-71 Blue Mountain Golf Course)
69 – Tommy Kintzer
70 – Dan Brown
71 – Bill Massar, Jr., Chuck Schwab
72 – Tony Deraco
73 – Brian Auman
74 – Kerry Wentling
75 – Scot Adams
76 – Dave Brown
78 – Jeff Hoke, Dave Long
79- Lynn Ebersole, Tom Plunket
80 – Scott Behney, Tom Mettley
81 – Dave Albright, Eric Boltz
82 – Ron Heisey
83 – Doug Wright, Perry Umlauf
84 – Greg Longenecker
89 – Dave Meyer
95 – Scot Brown
Lebanon County Senior Amateur Golf Tournament