Saturday wasn’t the first time Craig Hornberger and Marc Oliveri brought the best out of each other on the golf course.
Most notably, there was a Lancaster County Junior Golf Tour event a decade ago when Oliveri shot a 10-birdie 64 at Crossgates to edge Hornberger, who made eight birdies and shot 65.
“We’ve had our battles,’’ Oliveri said.
Hornberger won this one, sliding in a 20-foot birdie putt on the second-hole of a three-hole playoff to edge Oliveri by a shot for the Lanco Amateur Championship, presented by Ken Phillips and Dan Burton.
Both 26 year-old Lancaster Country Club members shot regulation totals of 66-68-134, eight under par.
That’s not counting the birdie Hornberger made in the playoff.
“We both played great,’’ said the new champion, a former PIAA champion and Division One college golfer who claimed his first Lanco individual title.
“I can’t complain about eight under.’’
“Eight under,’’ Oliveri admitted, “is pretty lights out.’’
Although there were seven scores in the 60s Saturday, the battle had been whittled down to Hornberger vs. Oliveri by the middle of the back nine.
Oliveri was a shot back before running off four straight birdies, from 13 through 16. Hornberger answered with an eagle at the 15th, a dogleg-right par-5 where he cut the corner, bombed a drive and reached the green with a gap wedge to about five feet.
Still, Oliveri had a one-shot lead heading to 17, a hole where he admitted the tee shot “just doesn’t fit my eye. I’m struggling to commit to it, and I just kind of quit on it.’’
The drive sailed far right, nearly on to the 15th green, 240 yards from the hole. He scrambled from there to what was actually a good bogey. That squared things, and they stayed that way through the first playoff hole, with regulation pars.
At the second playoff hole, also the second hole, both players drove right. Hornberger wedged to 20 feet or so, and sneaked a sidehill putt with perfect speed into the side of the hole.
“That was the longest one I made all day,’’ Hornberger said.
It was decisive. The third at Highlands is a serious par-3 of about 200 yards. Hornberger drove his tee shot to the back of the green, perhaps 35 feet away. Oliveri missed right, not by much, but found a tiny bunker.
He blasted out to 10 feet, and kept his buddy honest by making the par putt. Hornberger two-putted, and it was over.
“It was a lot of fun,’’ Hornberger said. “He’s a good friend, and obviously we want to beat each other. At the same time, we can laugh about it.’’
A lot of birdies were made down the stretch. Connor Sheehan, the Millersville product who has won this event the past three years, birdied 15, 16 and 17 to shoot 69 and share third place at 69-69-138, four under.
Zac Drescher, a four-time champion, tied Sheehan at four under with birds on 13, 14 and 18.
Conor Gilbert, the third member of Saturday’s final group and a high-school teammate of Oliveri and Hornberger at Conestoga Valley back in the day, finished fifth at 68-71-139.
The Lanco gang will reconvene for the Lanco Better-Ball, July 16-17 at Pilgrim’s Oak.