On a humid Sunday morning at the 6,059-yard, par-71 Blue Mountain Golf Course in Fredericksburg, Blake Reifsnyder secured his second straight title at the 65th annual Lebanon County Amateur Golf Championship.
Reifsnyder, 26, carded a second round 73, which, combined with the opening round 66 he posted on Saturday, gave him a 36-hole total of 139, or three-under-par. Reifsnyder was two strokes better than runner-up Derrick Brennan, who carded a 67-74 (141) total.
Finishing in a tie for third were Greg Seidel with a 72-72 (144) total and John DiGiacomo, who registered a 75-69 (144). Fifth place went to Trentin Brubaker, who recorded a 76-70 (146).
With his victory, Reifsnyder became the third player in the history of the storied event to defend his title and repeat as champion. The last to do it was Jim Gardner in 2015 and 2016.
“I wanted to try,” said Reifsnyder of his repeat performance. “You don’t want to think too much about it because bad things tend to happen. I wanted to be here. This is very important to me. It’s got a really long history. Anything that has that historic importance is really cool to be a part of.”
“When you win a tournament, you don’t get many of these,” added Reifsnyder. “So, you’ve got to defend your title if you get a chance. It means you’re the best golfer in an area of 130,000 or 140,000 people. That’s cool, if nothing else. Any time you get a shot at a county amateur, that’s a big population you’re representing.”
“Blake’s short game is phenomenal,” said Brennan. “He’s one of the best putters I’ve seen. The thing with Blake is you’re not going to beat him by making pars. I just fell short.”
Sunday’s key moment in a tournament that had evolved into a two-player duel between Reifsnyder and Brennan came at the 389-yard, par-four 11th and the 154-yard, par-three 12th hole, where Reifsnyder converted a pair of gutsy par saves. Then, at the 447-yard, par-five 13th hole, Reifsnyder rolled in a short birdie putt while Brennan was enduring a double bogey.
That turn of events gave Reifsnyder a five-shot advantage with five holes to play.
“I made a wild par save on 11,” said Reifsnyder. “When that happened, I felt good. Then, I made another one on 12. I was like, ‘If I can bail myself out, he’s (Brennan) going to have to make some birdies.’ At that point, it was close. I figured, ‘I feel good. I just have to try to avoid big mistakes.’”
“My head’s still spinning,” added Reifsnyder. “Honestly, it was kind of scrappy like last year. Last year, I had a lead and didn’t have my best stuff on the second day. I had this thing in the back of my mind like, ‘Maybe this is my comeuppance’ because I kind of got away with it last year.”
An early bogey at the 219-yard, par-three second hole erased the one-shot advantage that Reifsnyder had entered Sunday’s final round with.
A short birdie at the par-four sixth momentarily gave Brennan the lead. But Reifsnyder responded with a short birdie of his own at the par-four seventh, before rolling in a 10-foot birdie putt at the par-five eighth to regain his advantage for good.
“I’d say that overall, the quality of my golf this year was better (than last year),” said Reifsnyder. “Derrick played his butt off. He played really well. He was in my group, and it felt a little mano-a-mano. It was pretty apparent early on it was going to be me and Derrick when no one made a quick run out of the gates.”
“Winning is very important,” added Reifsnyder. “Even playing is important to me for my own mental health. In winter, when it’s not there, it’s tough. I love getting out in the sunlight and getting some swings in. Having a competitive outlet is good for me.”
“I’m very proud. I’m glad,” said Brennan, who finished third at last year’s county amateur. “I played my game. I didn’t break my focus. I really wanted to win, but I learned a lot and gained a ton of experience.”
“I never stopped grinding,” Brennan continued. “I played to my potential. But I felt like I was playing from behind.”
|Bill Massar Jr.||148||T7th|
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