Wyoming Valley duo wins with walk-off eagle
A chip-in eagle secured victory for Eric Plisko and Frank Schiel, Jr. in the 36th John Moore Memorial Tournament Aug. 24 at the Country Club of Scranton (par 72, 6,792 yards).
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The Wyoming Valley Country Club members stood tied for the lead at 9 under before the clutch conversion. On No. 18 (par 5, 530 yards), Plisko’s chip from the back of the green landed softly and drifted into the hole for 3.
He and Schiel, as a result, prevailed by two strokes over Glenmaura National Golf Club’s Patrick Mitchell and Nick Paone.
“At first, I was shocked. I never expected to chip it in, but it was probably the best golf shot under the circumstances I have ever pulled off in my golf career,” Plisko, 33, said. “My ball was sitting down a bit, and I told Frank, ‘I need to open the face and hit it like a bunker shot.’ That was the only way I would be able to get it close. As soon as I hit the shot, I knew it was going to land soft and trickle close to the hole. As the ball landed, I thought I pulled it off and would have a tap-in for birdie to win the golf tournament, and the ball kept trickling closer and went in.”
“We looked at each other, smiled and kind of giggled a little bit,” Schiel, 32, added. “It was one of those things where I felt bad because I gave him the wrong club, but he made up for it. We were talking in the fairway. He had 207 yards in and had 6-iron in his hand. He went back to the 7-iron and I told him to hit 6-iron. It hit pin high and just trickled off the back of the green.”
On the previous hole (par 3, 225 yards), Plisko drained a 10-footer for par, which at the time afforded a one-stroke advantage. The Mitchell and Paone team, playing in the group ahead, birdied No. 18 to get in the house at 9 under.
Plisko’s heroics took care of the rest.
He and Schiel emerged as the event’s 18-hole leaders after posting a 6-under-par 66 at Pocono Farms Country Club (par 72, 6,723 yards) Sunday. Schiel birdied Nos. 16 (par 4, 399 yards) and 17 (par 5, 551 yards) and lipped a 10-footer for 3 on No. 18 (par 4, 406 yards).
“We finished really strong there. It was the first time either of us had played the golf course, so to come out and shoot 66 to start was pretty good,” Schiel said. “Our games just gel pretty good together. We’re always in the hole together. It’s not like we’re grinding a lot.”
“Our biggest takeaway from the round at Pocono Farms was our ability to be patient on a golf course that we have never seen before,” Plisko added. “Pocono Farms is a very tight golf course, and if you are off only a little bit you may lose your golf ball. You have to be patient and disciplined on a course like that.”
The Hanover Township, Pa. residents stayed steady at Scranton before an hour and a half weather delay threatened to halt its momentum entirely. However, Schiel didn’t miss a beat when play resumed. He returned to No. 14 (par 5, 535 yards) and nearly holed out for eagle with a sand wedge from 110 yards.
“We were laughing at each other. It either hit the flagstick or lipped out, but it was nice to have a kick-in birdie after the delay,” Schiel said.
Laughter is commonplace among Plisko and Schiel on the golf course. The two first became acquainted in high school. Plisko played for Hanover Area Junior-Senior High School, Schiel for G.A.R. Memorial Junior-Senior High School.
They reconnected through Wyoming Valley, representing the club during its wave of five consecutive AGA/GAP Men’s Coal Scuttle Championship titles.
“Frank and I play a ton of golf together and know each other’s games so well. We have so much confidence in each other’s abilities and know that one of us is going to be there on every hole,” Plisko said.
“We were looking forward to playing in the John Moore together. We know it’s a big tournament for the AGA, and we’re excited to win,” Schiel said. “It was a big one for us.”
Celebrating Amateur Golf since 1897, GAP, also known as the Golf Association of Philadelphia, is the oldest regional or state golf association in the United States. It serves as the principal ruling body of amateur golf in its region. The Association’s 288 Member Clubs and 75,000 individual members are spread across the Eastern half of Pennsylvania and parts of New Jersey and Delaware. The GAP’s mission is to promote, preserve and protect the game of golf.