Rod Crumbling Jr. wanted to shoot in the 60s again. He barely made it in the 70s.
Still, the defending champion’s outstanding play in the first two rounds in the 58th annual State VFW Golf Tournament was enough to hold off Tony Orlandi for his fifth title overall Sunday at the Indian Springs Golf and Country Club.
Crumbling held a 10-stroke lead after two rounds and won by five.
Crumbling shot an 8-over-par 79 on Sunday to finish at 217 in the 54-hole tournament. Orlandi shot a final-round 74 to come in at 222.
“The third day, coming in with a 10-shot lead, it’s a different mindset,” said Crumbling, of York County. “I never thought that I would even have a chance of losing with a 10-shot lead. It did get kind of close at one point. (Orlandi) played well today, and he made some good putts and got right back in it. I did what I had to do to have a chance to lose, and that’s start putting really bad. It just was too big of a lead in the end.”
The title is Crumbling’s fifth in the last six years and second in a row. Crumbling matched Ron Janicki, usually one of his top challengers, who also has five championships.
Crumbling shot 69s in the first two rounds to hold a commanding lead on his closest competitor, and he had hoped to fire a number in the 60s again Sunday. Instead, he struggled with the putter, while Orlandi, of Jenners, Somerset County, played well enough to keep at least a little bit of hope alive through most of Sunday’s round.
“I got within three shots on 15,” he said. “Then Rod flew the green with his shot, and I stuck one, and at that point I started thinking about maybe having a chance. Until then I kept talking myself out of it, saying, just keep playing for second place. But he hit a shot, it came off the hill behind the green a little bit hot, and it hit the pin — a little bit of a break, but that happens. He made a great par and I ended up missing a short, little birdie putt, and that was pretty much it at that point. But I was happy to get it that close.”
Orlandi was a little more aggressive on the final three holes, and that pushed his final score a little higher.
“I believe that if his ball didn’t hit the pin, it would’ve been a little closer, because I wouldn’t have had to take any chances coming in,” he said. “But he deserved to win. He played that good on the first two days. He’s a friend of mine, and I’m glad he won.”
Marty Bolo (231), Matt McGinnis (233), Janicki (233), Don White (240) and Rich Howells (249) rounded out the Championship Flight.
The tournament had 67 players, up seven from last year. Dwindling participation has been in issue for years in the event, which once had more than 300 competitors. Wes Skibo, the president of the board of directors at Indian Springs, was pleased and even more optimistic for future tournaments.
This year was the first time the tournament was open to veterans who were just social members and not specifically post members at a specific VFW. Starting next year, the event will be open to all veterans, regardless of any VFW affiliation.
“Almost every year it comes down to, it was me and Ron for the earlier few years, and now these last two years it was me and Tony,” Crumbling said. “A two-man race, it’s still a win, but it’s not the same as when you have 10 or 12 guys that are actually battling and have a chance.
“In years going forward, it’s opened up to all the veterans. Just thinking back home, there are several guys that are just as good as I am and would have just as good a chance of winning this as I would.”
George Berringer (247) won the first flight championship. Other flight winners were: Derek Stewart (248), second; Jerril Begonia (271), third; Jack Gotwalt (284), fourth; Skibo (304), fifth; and Cloyd Ream (241), Super Seniors.