MYERSTOWN – Holding a six-shot lead heading into the final round of a golf tournament isn’t always the dream scenario it would appear to be, for numerous reasons.
But it doesn’t seem to have bothered Justin Arnt much.
After fashioning a sizzling 6-under par 66 during the opening round of the 62nd Lebanon County Amateur on Saturday, Arnt found himself with a commanding six-shot lead as Sunday’s second and final round beckoned at Lebanon Valley Golf Course.
It was still that way when the day was over, as Arnt produced a steady, unspectacular round of 72 that was just what he needed to secure his first County Amateur crown.
That gave Arnt, the tournament co-director, a two-day total of four-under par 138 and a six-shot victory over runner-up John DiGiacomo. DiGiacomo was the only member of the 22-man field to make even a slight run at Arnt, producing Sunday’s best round, a 69 that followed his 75 on Saturday.
Craig Kliewer (72-73-145) was third, Dave Albright (74-73- 147) took fourth and Steve Allwein rounded out the top five with a two-day score of 149 (78-71).
Arnt opened the door for a run for someone with two straight bogeys to start his round but quickly righted the ship and ultimately wasn’t seriously challenged at all.
“It was an easy day, it was pretty boring,” Arnt quipped. “(Before the round), they said to take any cart from the back. And in the back, I saw Cart No. 36, and I said, ‘Oh, OK, that’s what I’d like my nines (front and back) to be. And that’s what I shot, 36-36. I don’t know if that was an omen or what.
“I just tried to stay within myself. I wasn’t going to change my game plan. I played the same way I did yesterday. I just tried to get it on the green and two-putt.”
It was an effective mindset for Arnt to employ, although it was briefly tested when he bogeyed 1 and 2 to begin the round.
“The start was a little rough,” he admitted. “But 7 and 8 helped me get back to even, and I just played steady, par golf. Between 71 and 73 was my target today and to be the only one under par is pretty nice.”
And to add a coveted County Amateur crown to the Lebanon County Better Ball and Lebanon County Match Play titles he won in previous years only made Sunday’s triumph even more meaningful.
“It means a lot,” he said. “I was getting pretty emotional. You can’t take a six-shot lead for granted. Somebody could start out three-under after three and I could start out three-over after three and then your lead’s gone.”
“Initially, it was just getting some experience playing some of these events, and then getting to know some of the people,” Arnt said of what playing in the Amateur has meant to him over the years. “But I thinking (wanting to win it) kicked in even more so when Skeet (Wentling) and I won the Better Ball (in 2017.) You have to mature as a player.”
2020 Lebanon County Amateur Golf Championship
(at Lebanon Valley Golf Course)
Justin Arnt 66-72 – 138
John DiGiacomo 75-69 – 144
Craig Kliewer 72-73- 145
Dave Albright 74-73 – 147
Steve Allwein 78-71 – 149
Bill Massar, Jr. 77-74 – 151
Greg Behney 75-76 – 151
Ryan Woelfling 77-74 – 151
Kerry Wentling 77-76 – 153
Chris Gebhard 77-76 – 153
Jordan Rhen 78 -77 – 155
Tony Deraco 77-78 – 155
Jeff Hoke 80-78 – 158
Perry Umlauf 76-82 – 158
Steve O’Neal 81-79 – 160
Darren Lutz 79-82 -161
John Feeman 82-81 – 163
Jim Pesta 85-80 – 165
Leon Nolt 86-80 – 166
Jared Brandt 86-83 – 169
Ben Feeman 82-91- 173
Dave Hoover 85-96 – 181