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Genter-Hall triumph was one for ages

Golf commentary

Over the years, I’ve had the opportunity to witness many local best-ball tournaments, both as a participant and a spectator.

Each event has been interesting in its own way, but I must say that I have never witnessed a more thrilling ending to a tournament than the finish at this year’s Park Hills Classic.

And it’s not even close.

For perspective, the first team in last weekend’s championship flight finale was the top-seeded, defending champion team of Anthony DeGol and William Smith, who progressed to Sunday’s final match with three methodical victories.

Every local golf fan knows that Anthony DeGol has been Blair County’s best amateur golfer over the past decade.

His partner, William Smith, who hails from the Chambersburg area, is an equally impressive golfer who has been competitive in events across the state for many years.

The team they would be facing in the final match was a surprise — Steve Genter and Brian Hall from Scotch Valley.

After wins in the first two rounds, Genter and Hall — seeded 11th — advanced to the finals by beating the strong team of Wes Elder and Brett Miller.

With the final match set, I would like to express this thought with as much respect as possible: Genter and Hall are both highly skilled golfers, but they were still extremely large underdogs against the likes of DeGol and Smith — two of the most accomplished golfers to ever participate in this tournament.

Both DeGol and Smith have been prolific winners in area events, contenders in state competitions and participants in national USGA championships.

Without question, the odds were strongly in favor of a DeGol-Smith victory.

I almost feel guilty to admit that when I arrived at the course on Sunday afternoon and learned the match was on the 13th hole, I feared I would miss the ending.

Instead, I was surprised to learn the teams were all even. While following the match, I watched — amazed — as Genter holed a four-foot birdie putt on No. 13 for a 1-up lead.

DeGol, however, would tie the match with a tremendously difficult two-putt par from the back of the 15th green.

As the crowd of followers grew larger, there was a definite buzz in the air. Could the underdog Genter-Hall team actually topple the talented defending champions?

Genter and Hall somehow regained the lead after winning the 17th and came to the last hole with a 1-up lead.

With DeGol set to make a par, Hall was left with a tremendously difficult chip shot from behind the green, which he had to get close.

I think I flinched when Hall’s delicate swing produced a shot that traveled only about a foot.

Amazingly, however, the ball began to slowly trickle, and trickle, eventually ending two feet from the hole.

The collective group of onlookers may still have been on edge, but Hall found some way to calmly hole his two-footer for a par — and the unbelievable victory.

It’s been several days after the fact, and I still can hardly believe what happened.

For Genter and Hall to hold on and defeat DeGol and Smith, one of the strongest teams to ever compete in our area, was an absolutely amazing feat to witness.

Despite what had to be a tough loss, DeGol handled himself with the grace and sportsmanship he always displays.

There’s one particular situation that occurred during the match which really reveals the character of this young man: In the thick of Sunday’s battle, DeGol belted a tremendous drive to the middle of the 18th fairway.

Most onlookers may not have noticed, but it landed right in the middle of a large divot, making his next shot almost impossible to hit cleanly.

To his credit, DeGol didn’t complain or pout. He didn’t use it as an excuse — he just calmly went about his business, hitting the best shot he could in the situation.

That alone was one of the most impressive things I’ll remember from Sunday.

And a final note on the impressive resume of William Smith. During Sunday’s match, Artie Fink informed me that Smith had recently returned from playing in the prestigious U.S. Senior Open.

Smith had qualified as the medalist in Silver Springs, Maryland, earning a spot in the Senior Open at the Omaha Country Club in Nebraska.

Amazingly, he played a practice round prior to the event with Jim Furyk, who went on to win the tournament. Smith played well in the event, but eventually missed the cut with scores of 76-78.

The following weekend he was in Altoona, participating in the Park Hills Classic.

Ken Love covers local golf for the Mirror. He can be reached at gltr777@atlanticbb.net

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