Zarlenga, others vie for Greatest title
By Kevin Connelly
Josh Zarlenga is no stranger to championship Sunday.
In the five years the Vindicator Greatest Golfer of the Valley sponsored by Farmers National Bank has been played, Zarlenga has been on the course, and in contention for the Pete Mollica Open division, each year. Yet he still doesn’t have anything to show for it.
“I tied for first two years ago and lost in a playoff,” Zarlenga said Saturday night, sitting in second place after two rounds.
“So yeah, I’ve been here a few times.”
After putting together back-to-back rounds of 71 at Tippecanoe Country Club on Friday and Youngstown Country Club on Saturday, Zarlenga trails men’s open division leader Matt Gurska by two strokes heading into today’s final round at The Lake Club.
He’ll have to face a course he doesn’t get to see very often and hasn’t been too kind to him in the past, to finally get that elusive victory.
“I’m prepared the best that I can be,” Zarlenga said. “I’ve played the golf course enough in my life to know what I need to do and where I need to hit it.
“After that, it all depends on how it’s set up, because they can make it play pretty difficult.”
All 100 golfers, across eight divisions, who advanced to today’s championships can expect a challenge from The Lake Club. Who will be up to the challenge is anyone’s guess.
Gurska (140) and Zarlenga (142) are followed closely by Scott Porter and round one’s leader Tim Morrow, who have a two-day score of 143.
Zarlenga said he thinks a final round score of 70 will be needed to take the trophy in the men’s open division.
The shot of the day came from Boardman graduate Jake Fait, who scored a double-eagle on the par-5 No. 5 at Youngstown C.C.. He holed a 2-iron from 227 yards.
Clifford Tims, an assistant groundskeeper at Trumbull C.C., has posted the lowest two rounds of anyone in the tournament.
With consecutive rounds of 69 at Mill Creek Golf Course and Oak Tree Country Club, his 36-hole total of 138 has him leading the Seniors division. Jim Sladovic and Ronald Daum sit two shots back with equally impressive rounds of 140.
Ed Antonelli has a five-stroke lead going into today’s final round in the Super Seniors division.
Katie Rogner is playing steady golf while the rest of the women’s open field chases her.
The former Youngstown State golfer improved upon her first-round score of 74 and posted a 73 to give herself a four-shot lead on Toni Notaro.
The 9-plus handicap division is anybody’s to take with Abby Cook in the lead at 163. Four other golfers are within three strokes of Cook.
For Eddie Maughan Jr., today will serve more as a going away party than anything else.
The good news for him is he’s clinging to a one-stroke lead after 36 holes. Maughan and his wife have a 16-month old at home and triplets on the way, so he’s about to trade in his golf clubs for a baby stroller — or three.
“I’m going to take it like any other round,” said the Boardman native, who now resides in Canfield.
“This is tough competition. It’s really tough to have three days of good golf consecutively and it really brings the best out of you — and worst at times.”
Tony Sandy (155), Brad Barringer (156) and Steve Milano (157) and Ryan Griffith (157) are all chasing Maughan’s two-day score of 154.
“This is my last hoorah,” Maughan joked. “I don’t think I’ll be playing much golf next year.
“We’ll give it a go [today].”
If Griffin Todd played any better the first two rounds, he’d be leading the men’s open division.
The only problem for his competitors is that he’s playing in the 10-14 handicap division. He followed up a 74 on Friday with a attention-grabbing 71 on Saturday.
Todd said after his round that he couldn’t have played the back nine at Trumbull Country Club any better.
Todd held a decisive lead for most of the afternoon, until Bryce Minor posted a 76 to finish within four shots. Those two are in position to claim the title today.
Jay Moore chipped in from the fringe on the 18th hole to cap a back nine 38 and get within one shot of the 15-plus handicap division leader, Fred Fisher.
Chuck Briel and Ron Merrell have a two-day score of 170 and find themselves six shots back of the leader.