Jones, Teeple win AGA/GAP Ben Marshall Four-Ball
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An 11:50 a.m. tee time in the Ben Marshall Spring Four-Ball June 5 featured two teams with very different dynamics.
The last minute tandem of Corey Teeple, 26, and Chris Jones, 30, found itself grouped with the accomplished four-ball pairing of Eric Williams and James Gardas.
Ultimately, it was the former that took home the Open Flight title at Irem Country Club (Par 72, 6,366 yards). Their score of 5-under-par 67 was one better than that of both Williams and Gardas, as well Mariano Medico and Frank Pinnacoli Jr, a duo from Huntsville Golf Club.
The victory, which was the first in an AGA/GAP event for both Teeple and Jones, came as a bit of a surprise, especially considering the circumstances from which the partnership arose. When Teeple’s original partner was unable to make the rain date (the tournament was postponed April 26), it appeared that Teeple would not be playing at all. Luckily for him, a last minute text message gave Teeple a chance to compete.
“As of 6 p.m. the night before I didn’t have a partner,” Teeple, of Lake Ariel, Pa., said.
Fortunately, a group text sent by Teeple was answered by Jones, who found room in his schedule for a little golf.
“I don’t normally play in too many of the AGA events because they are during the week,” Jones, of Harvey’s Lake, Pa., said. “I just happened to have a quiet day at work and was able to sneak out in the afternoon.”
Although the pair had never competed as partners before, Teeple and Jones had played several rounds together in the past, including multiple at the tournament’s host club.
“Corey plays in skins matches with us at Irem so we were comfortable together,” Jones said. “We are both young guys and hit it similar distances which helped. It was just like going out and playing a round with your buddies on a Saturday.”
The team got out to a quick start with a birdie on No. 2 (par 4, 266 yards) after Jones drove the green. Teeple followed with a birdie of his own on No. 3 (par 4, 396 yards), before another birdie by Jones on No. 5 (par 4, 356 yards) put the duo at 3 under. From there, the team’s round went a bit stagnant. Bogeys on Nos. 9 (par 4, 379 yards) and 12 (par 4, 323 yards) brought the teammates back to 1 under and had them looking up at Williams and Gardas.
“We were trying to keep pace with Eric all day because we knew he would set the mark,” Teeple said.
In order to accomplish this goal, Teeple and Jones were in need of a furious charge down the stretch — and that’s just what they got.
Jones carded another birdie on No. 13 (par 5, 537 yards) after he hit the green with his second shot. On the very next hole, (par 4, 378 yards), Teeple rolled in a birdie putt of his own. After consecutive pars on Nos. 15 and 16, Teeple stepped up with the shot of the day, chipping in from short of the green on No. 17 (par 3, 162 yards).
“We were ahead of [Williams and Gardas] the whole day until our bogeys on Nos. 9 and 12,” Jones said. “Corey’s chip in on No. 17 put us back ahead.”
Teeple and Jones’ time at the top would have been short -lived however, was it not for a closing 3 by Jones on No. 18 (par 4, 307 yards). After Williams knocked his approach to two feet, virtually guaranteeing a birdie for his team, Teeple and Jones had two chances at what would ultimately be the deciding birdie. Although Teeple was in tight with a six-foot chance for a 3, Jones took all the pressure off his partner by rolling in a 12-footer from the fringe.
“That [putt] definitely would have been a knee knocker,” Teeple joked.
As it was, Teeple was spared from any bruises to his knees, taking home first place without ever stroking that final putt.
After a pair of missed birdie putts on Irem’s 18th green, Jim Fronzoni, of Dallas, Pa., and Bill Lydick, from Forty Fort, Pa., were resigned to coming up short. The partners know what it takes to win four-ball-events on the AGA/GAP circuit; the two were champions of the Sam Spencer Four-Ball in 2016 at Glen Oak Country Club. They did not think they had done enough.
Yet, despite their wealth of experience, Fronzoni, 58, and Lydick, 57, had their instincts proven wrong on Wednesday. With a 2-under-par round of 70, the Huntsville Golf Club duo won the tournament’s Senior Division.
During a day in which Fronzoni, formerly a member of Irem, admitted that, “The course played significantly more difficult than normal,” Fronzoni and Lydick’s round matched that of Charles Brand and James Breck f. However, after a scorecard playoff compared back nine scores, it was Fronzoni and Lydick who finished atop the leaderboard.
“Jimmy and I have played in a lot of these tournaments together for the last three or four years,” Lydick said. “We have a way of just seeming to go in and out. Whenever the other is not there, the other just picks it up. We go well that way.”
In line with Lydick’s remarks, each partner contributed on Wednesday. Lydick carded birdies on Nos. 5 (par 4, 338 yards) and 15 (par 4, 334 yards). Fronzoni, for his part, picked up the only eagle in the Senior Division. It came on No. 14 (par 4, 350 yards).
With his team coming off a devastating bogey on the previous hole (par 5, 499 yards), Fronzoni needed to make something happen. With this in mind, he ripped a drive to perfection.
“You really have to be able to land it in the right spot in the fairway so that you can catch the fairway and not rough,” Fronzoni said. “I just happened to do that. I can tell you, I’ve been playing the course for over 20 years. That might be the second time I ever hit a shot [like that].”
After his ball came to rest mere inches from the putting surface, Fronzoni proceeded to bury his 50-foot putt.
“I think with a little bit course knowledge, I kind of knew with confidence what the break was going to be,” Fronzoni said.
Fronzoni’s eagle reversed his team’s momentum. It played the final four holes that followed in 1-under-par, vaulting them into the winner’s circle.
Now, having become multi-time four-ball champions, there is little doubt that Fronzoni and Lydick are a formidable force in team golf.
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 274 Full 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.