Winning back-to-back titles, in any event, is hard especially when you have to play well each time to do so.
But that was no problem at all for Fox Hill Country Club’s Mark Answini and Joe Mantione, who claimed the Senior flight (age 50 and over) of the 18th AGA/GAP Sam Spencer Four-Ball Championship at Glen Oak Country Club July 11 (par 72, 6,190 yards) with a best-ball score of 7-under-par 65 to win by four shots.
The longtime duo used precision off the tee and a tremendous putting display to gain their second straight title.
“We have played in events like these for so many years and Mark said, ‘Let’s finally defend one,’” said Mantione. “We just clicked together all day. When you know your partner is going to be there no matter where your golf ball is, you can play more aggressively and accept the consequences. Some of us old guys can still move it around.”
The key at Glen Oak is to not go above the hole. But Answini, 52, and Mantione, 55, both of Laflin, Pa., did on multiple occasions and escaped without harm.
The highlight of the day came on No. 7 (par 5, 453 yards). Mantione had a 45-foot birdie putt down the hill that he said was like a rollercoaster and had about 15 feet of break from right to left.
With perfect speed, Mantione rolled it dead center and moved the duo forward and on its way to the title.
At that point, the duo was 3 under and made the turn at 4 under. After Mantione made four birdies on the front, Answini, answered with three of his own.
He birdied No. 16 (par 4, 408 yards) after stuffing an 8-iron from 150 yards to 10 feet. The final birdie came on No. 17 (par 3, 202 yards) after Answini precisely lasered a 5-iron to three feet from 202 yards. That was all they needed.
“Each time Mark and I head out to play in one of these events we always want to have a good time and enjoy the camaraderie,” said Mantione. “For some reason, Glen Oak suits our golf games well and we feed off of each other. It was a perfect blend of our games versus the course.”
In the Open Flight (age 19-49), the Glenmaura National Golf Club duo of John Barone and Patrick Mitchell held off Huntsville Golf Club’s Mariano Medico and Anthony Sebastianelli, a recent U.S. Amateur qualifier, with a 7-under-par 65 total at Glen Oak (par 72, 6,608 yards).
They were assisted by two 25-foot birdie putts by Barone on Nos. 9 (par 3, 141 yards) and 11 (par 5, 515 yards) to ultimately give them the advantage over the Huntsville pairing.
“John making those two of those putts was huge,” said Mitchell, 37 of Scranton, Pa. “Those putts gave us some separation. We knew where we stood on No. 9 and No. 11 and those two long putts were huge. We knew it was only a matter of time before they made a run since Anthony has been a member there his whole life. It ended up being good enough.”
Barone, 22, of Dunmore, Pa, as well as Mitchell, both qualified for the Pennsylvania Golf Association’s R. Jay Sigel Match Play Championship at Schuylkill Country Club July 9-11 as a result of their Top 16 finish in the stroke play portion. But Barone lost in the quarterfinals and Mitchell lost in the Round of 16.
“It is never fun to lose,” said Mitchell. “But it is nice to know that you can make the Top 16 and compete with those guys. It is a positive going forward.”
Barone’s original partner, Chris Cerminaro also of Glenmaura National, made the semifinals of the Match Play so he couldn’t tee it up.
“I subbed in as an emergency fill-in,” said Mitchell. “I wasn’t going to play but I play with these guys a lot so it was fun.
“The Sam Spencer was part of the AGA for a long time and it has always been one of the best better-ball tournaments in the area. It’s really nice to win because it brings a lot of the best players especially with the merger with GAP.”