By Mike Gross
A big shootout broke out in the final round of the Stadel Volvo Lanco Better-Ball at Foxchase Saturday.
Big enough that 18 holes wasn’t enough. So a cart stampede down the first fairway turned into a stampede back to the clubhouse, all because Derek McCarty banged home a birdie putt.
McCarty’s 20-footer from the back fringe on the first hole of sudden death gave he and partner Connor Sheehan the title over the teams of Garrett Barbush/Corey Wenger and Greg and Casey Osborne, and beat the onrushing storm clouds.
The three teams shot 13 under-par totals of 131.
Sheehan, a recent Millersville University grad who played golf and wrestled there, also won the Lanco Amateur last month. He is looking very much like the Lanco player of the year.
But he had never won the better-ball before, and his five years of trying with McCarty included a final round 59, at Overlook in 2015, that wasn’t good enough.
“We’ve been chasing this for five years together,’’ Sheehan said.
It is McCarty’s second better-ball title - he won it with Wenger at Meadia Heights in 2010 - but his first time staring down the golfer’s equivalent of a walkoff home run or buzzer-beating jumper.
“In the 59 at Overlook, I kind of went on a tear,’’ he said. “But needing to make one to win, … no, I’ve never done that before.’’
It was a fun battle, including players from all of the day’s final three groupings, made easier to follow by live-scoring software Lanco has adopted this year.
Barbush and Wenger blistered the front nine in six under 30 and birdied 11 to grab the lead, but were “just,’’ one under from there in.
The Osbornes, who entered the day a shot ahead of the other finalists, played the 11-hole stretch from four through 14 five under, and had several good cracks at birdies after that, but none fell.
Playing two groups ahead, the Feigers, Chris and Chris, Jr., went eagle-birdie-birdie on 11 through 14 to pull within a shot.
McCarty and Sheehan, meanwhile, were overcoming two back-nine bogeys to stay in it.
At 17, a driveable par-4, all four teams in the hunt had at least one tee shot on or around the green. Only Sheehan and McCarty converted the birdie, erasing a bogey at 16.
The Feigers birdied 18, but fell a shot shot at 67-65-132. Also at 18, Greg Osborne’s downhill, sidehill 20-footer ended up 10 inches short.
Wenger had about a 12-footer on 18 to win it, but the cup spit his ball out with a brutal, 180-degree lip-out. Sheehan, who’d likely win a player’s poll as Lanco’s best putter, then had an eight-footer to win it, which he narrowly misread.
The sixsome hustled to the first tee for the playoff, the storm clearly coming from the west. Barbush, Sheehan, Casey Osborne and, of course, McCarty, all had reasonable birdie putts.
“It’s like I told (Sheehan) when we were driving up in the cart: First man in wins,’’ McCarty said.