EXETER – Eric Plisko and Joe Coleman enjoyed breakthrough victories in the 72nd annual John A. Allan Invitational at Fox Hill Country Club June 24.
Plisko made the clinching birdie on the first playoff hole to combine with partner Rick Laneski for what was Plisko’s first title in the event.
While Plisko-Laneski were winning the most prestigious prize of the three-day event in the championship flight, Joe Coleman was enjoying his biggest victory in 47 consecutive years competing at the club’s showcase member-guest event. Coleman teamed with Steve Selenski the same afternoon to win the Shootout held for the winning teams of each of the tournament’s match play flights.
Plisko left himself with a short putt for a birdie and the win at 18 in the first hole of the playoff, securing a second title for Laneski, who won in 2011 with current Web.com Tour player Brandon Matthews. It also ended years of frustration for the 31-year-old, who has won the last two club championships at Wyoming Valley Country Club.
“Finally,” Plisko said. “I must have played 18 in a playoff about seven times.
“After the past, this feels really good.”
In his first dozen years of Allan competition, Coleman was usually in the championship flight with his brother Len, who later posted wins with other partners. They medaled qualifying one year, but were unable to finish higher than fourth when playing as a team.
Winning the 10th of 13 flights put Selenski-Joe Coleman into the Shootout for the second straight year. That led to a title in a year when Coleman, a retired guidance counselor who coached the golf team at Pittston Seton Catholic for more than a quarter century, has not been able to play as much as usual.
“It was very exciting,” Coleman said. “Even in our flight, we had some excellent matches that were close.”
Each of the six-team flights featured five nine-hole matches – two Friday, two Saturday and one Sunday morning.
While the match play flights were getting started Friday, 24 teams went out in pursuit of 16 berths in the championship flight for four rounds of weekend match play.
Robert Santarelli-Stephen Hudacek led qualifying with a better-ball score of 7-under-par, 64, which was one shot better than the eventual champions and the team of William Burke-Christian Davis.
The medalists, however, were eliminated by Saturday morning as the top half of the bracket featured wins by lower-seeded teams.
Lorenzo Medico-Bill Medico Jr., the 16th seeds and among the teams to make it through a playoff after shooting 72 Friday, knocked off Santarelli-Hudacek.
Michael Hannagan-Tyler McGarry started match play as the 13th seed, but beat two higher-seeded oppponents Saturday, then eliminated Medico-Medico Sunday morning to get to the championship match.
Plisko put his second shot within a foot on 6 for an eagle. Hannagan-McGarry took a lead into 15 where Laneski’s 15-footer for birdie tied the match.
Laneski-Plisko took the lead on Plisko’s birdie at 16, then lightning chased the match off the course on 17, leading to a 90-minute delay.
McGarry had the only par on 17, leading to the tie that necessitated the extra hole.
Plisko’s 110-yard shot with a 54-degree wedge set up the short putt. He did not, however, take the final stroke for granted.
“I got an extra read from my partner, got up and told myself to hit the putt natural and, if it doesn’t go in, we play another hole,” Plisko said. “It went in.”
The 13 flight winning teams were split into two groups for the Shootout where they eliminated each other one at a time.
“(Selenski) drove the ball extremely well,” Coleman said of how their team moved through the last competition of the weekend.
Coleman’s shot in a chip-off on 2 settled the even flights group, edging Joe Valenti-Danny Valenti. Joe Joyce Jr.-Aiden Joyce made it through the odd flights group.
Laneski-Coleman then beat out Joyce-Joyce by three shots in the two-hole final that used both players scores on both holes, capping an enjoyable weekend at Fox Hill for Coleman.
“Fox Hill was in gorgeous shape,” he said. “The greens were in immaculate condition.”
Thomas Gill and Len Coleman teamed to win the First Flight.
Other flight winners included: Larry Morgan-Matt Lehman, second; Charles Blewitt-J.C. Blewitt, third; Leroy Answini-Derek Answini, fourth; Michael Brown-Travis DeBona, fifth; Fred Lombardo Jr.-Jon Comitz, sixth; Scott Gartley-Josh Gartley, seventh; Joseph Bruno-David Bruno, eighth; Ted Harris-Anthony Heck, ninth; Selenski-Joe Coleman, 10th; Joyce-Joyce, 11th; Valenti-Valenti, 12th; Tim Yurek-Michael Mazur, 13th.
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