GOLF: Levy, Cameron win ICC Invitational
None of the four players involved in the Indiana Country Club Invitational championship match Sunday had previously won a title. Actually, they all took it as an honor to be involved in the final, having advanced through a talented championship flight.
Sam Levy and Justin Cameron, the pair from Punxsutawney, closed four days of excellent golf, including three grinding days of match play, with a 2-and-1 victory over Indiana’s T.R. Gatti and Sean Sweithelm to claim the title in the better-ball match-play tournament.
“Every match we played, when we teed it up on the first tee, you’re grinding every single shot until you’re finished,” Cameron said. “There were no real giveaways. You were working hard out there to get your ball in the hole and do what you needed to do. … There were really good players, tough matches all around. That’s something that, if you qualify into the championship flight, you expect that. You’re going to play against two good players every single day. We expected it, and we’re really thankful to have hit the shots we needed to hit and come out on top.”
Levy and Cameron got on the top-flight radar with a 64 in the qualifying round, though their score was actually bettered by Ronald and David DeNunzio, at 63. The Punxsutawney players went on to face tournament mainstays in the first and second rounds of match play, beating Frank and Rick Fairman, 2 and 1, and Doug Gradwell and David Smith, 1 up, before Sunday’s title match.
“You think about it, the three match plays, we played 17 holes twice and 18 holes once, so it’s not like we beat up on anybody,” Levy said. “They all went to either the last hole or the second-to-last hole every match. They were all tight.”
The experience was similar for Gatti and Sweithelm, ICC members who beat Dave Myers and Jonathan Previte, 2 up, on Friday and came back to beat the DeNunzio brothers in 20 holes Sunday.
“Just to get into the heat is really exciting,” Gatti said. “It’s fun. Everybody’s good. Every match is different. Yesterday it was a grind. Those guys were different players, and these guys really ham-and-egged it well. They both made timely birdies when they needed to, and Sean and I had chances. We just couldn’t get it done.”
Levy has played in the invitational for about 25 years, but he brought with him Cameron, a fellow Punxsutawney Country Club member, for the first time this year.
“This is a fantastic event,” Cameron said. “Having won it my first year playing in it, I’m really excited about it. And we played against a lot of tough players. It’s exciting to have been under the gun and hit the shots that I needed to hit and come out on top.”
“I’ve won maybe the beaten eight or the first flight, but I’ve never actually won the championship flight,” Levy said.
Levy and Cameron had an early two-hole lead, which Gatti and Sweithelm cut to one on No. 9, and they tied the match on No. 10. The Indiana players led by one after No. 12, but the Punxsutawney team quickly countered, tying the match on No. 13 and firing birdies on Nos. 15 and 16 for a nice edge.
“We’re just really comfortable playing with each other, and we team really well together,” Cameron said. “We play a lot of best-ball matches back home, best one-of-two against a couple of our other players. We’re normally partners and we normally win back home, so it was nice to come to Indiana and get a victory.”
“For my partner giving me all these accolades for how I played today, we would not have been in this match if he wasn’t here, period,” Levy added. “He played like a star, so we wouldn’t have been here if it wasn’t for him.”
The Indiana pair threatened to extend the match but couldn’t keep it going past No. 17.
“We had a decent look at 17, we just couldn’t get it down,” Gatti said. “We just didn’t play as well today as we did yesterday. I don’t think either Sean or I felt like we were out of it when we were two down, because we had done that before and come back. We just couldn’t quite pull it off this time.”
Don Erickson and Bill Lydick, championship flight contenders almost every year, were bumped to the first flight, where they had their run of the pack. They defeated Tony and Gabe Bertini, 6 and 5, to claim the flight title after similarly convincing wins in their first two matches.
Brad Martineau and Rickey Miller won in 20 holes for the second straight day, taking the second flight consolation match over Joe Silveri and Shawn McMillan; and Scott Cook and Luke Vislosky won the third flight consolation match by sinking a putt on No. 18 to defeat Jim Shea and Norm Neill.
Other championship results were: John McMurdy Jr. and John McMurdy III, 3 and 2, over Ryan Del Baggio and Jim Byerly (second flight); Bryan Force and Matt Keith, 4 and 3, over Brian Little and Mark Steffey (third); Barry McKnight and Fred Bowser, 3 and 2, over C.J. Spadafora and Steve Heverly (fourth); and Tim and Jim Horkay, 5 and 4, over Jerry Gillette and Scott Winters.
Frank and Rick Fairman won the Championship Flight consolation match, 4 and 3, over Myers and Previte. Other consolation winners were: Roger Dean and Mike Miller (first), Bob Faye and Mike Dinatti (fourth), and Kevin Kubica and Jeff Wood (fifth).