By Rob Potter
CALLICOON August 26, 2003 For the third consecutive year, the winning team at the Sullivan County Democrat Two-Man Better Ball Golf Tournament included a golfer who has the surname of Semenetz.
This year, however, the students became the teachers as a brash, young duo gave their elders some golf lessons.
Sean Semenetz and Nick Yaun defeated the team of Pete Gelman and Michael Goldstein Sunday afternoon in the championship flight final to win the 22nd annual tournament. At 16 and 20 years of age, respectively, Semenetz and Yaun are the youngest champions in the history of the event.
From the beginning of the three-day event it looked as though two-time defending champions Gregg Semenetz and Bill Phillips might be ready to threepeat. They earned medalist honors in the Friday qualifer, firing a 5-under par 66 over the Villa Roma Country Club layout to lead 61 other teams.
The championship flight, which consisted of the top 16 teams, then began match play on Saturday.
After both Semenetz teams won their first round matches Saturday morning, they went toe-to-toe on Saturday afternoon in what many considered the best match of the tourney.
The S. Semenetz/Yaun team defeated the G. Semenetz/Phillips team in the quarterfinals and then beat the Charles Johnston/Jerry Garber team to reach the final match.
Gelman/Goldstein beat the team of Ken Cohen and Pravin Singh in the semifinals.
In the championship match, Semenetz/Yaun were 1 up after the front nine. Key birdie putts on the 12th and 13th holes helped the team win the match.
The championship match ended when Semenetz/Yaun took the 14th hole to go 5 up with only four holes to play.
His chip [onto the green] on 10 really got us going, Sean Semenetz said of his partners second shot on the 10th hole.
After that, Yaun made a birdie putt from about 10 ft. away on 12 and Semenetz sunk a 12-ft. birdie putt on the 13th hole to extend their lead.
Our goal was to both be on the green putting for birdie, Yaun said. We wanted to just keep hitting the greens and we were confident the birdie putts would go in.
This is the second year that Semenetz, who will begin his junior year at Sullivan West High School next week, and Yaun, a junior a Clemson University who is currently completing an internship at Winged Foot Golf Club in Mamaroneck, have played in the Democrat tournament. The pair finished in the final four of last years event.
The win gives Sean Semenetz some bragging rights at home.
My dad has won the past two years, now I can talk about winning the Democrat tournament, he said with a smile.
Another Semenetz family member, Gregg Jr., is also a prominent area golfer but returned to college in Arizona the week before The Democrat.
Semenetz and Yaun noted that their quarterfinal match versus Gregg Sementez and Phillips was their toughest match of the tournament.
We played well, said Gregg Semenetz, refering to the quarterfinal. But they just played better.
Gelman and Goldstein, both of whom reside in Livingston, NJ and are members of the Crestmont Country Club in West Orange, NJ, focused on the positives of their weekend.
Im very happy, Gelman said. This is the first time Ive ever seen the course. We had beautiful weather this weekend and we played well.
While Goldstein has played in past Democrat tourneys, this was Gelmans first event and the first time the two played as a team.
We beat two former champions to get to the finals, Goldstein said. We played well and have nothing to be ashamed of.
He added that the pair plan on playing in the 2004 Democrat to make another run at the championship.
On their way to the finals, Gelman/Goldstein beat six-time Democrat champion Ken Cohen and his partner Pravin Singh and the team of Chris DuBois and Bill Elliott, who won the 2000 tournament.
Semenetz/Yaun were not the only young team to play well at the tournament. In Fridays qualifying round, 14-year-old Ben Kleiner made five birdies as he and partner Maxx Kleiner, 16, earned the fifth seed in the championship flight.
Other flight winners are as follows:
1st Flight: 1st place DuBois/Elliott, 2nd place Rick Lake/Wayne Pirnos, 3rd place Ira Steingart/Nathan Steingart.
2nd Flight: 1st place Tim Smith/Tim Gibbs, 2nd place Art Norden/Peter Sigelakis, 3rd place Robert Kuhn/Eric Schubert.
3rd Flight: 1st place Bob Jones/Tom Willi, 2nd place Ross Cohen/Rich Nemet, 3rd place Mark Bachrach/Billy Stoddard Jr.
4th Flight: 1st place Jared Kubenik/Eric Kubenik, 2nd place Michael Zager/John Garnett, 3rd place Sy Solomon/Kyle Hoar.
5th Flight: 1st place Marty Passante/Pete Selthafner, 2nd place Ed Lohr/Joel Dnistrian, 3rd place Sean Lee/Doug Appel.
6th Flight: 1st place Ted Kleiner/Charles Slutsky, 2nd place Roger Widmann/John Fisher, 3rd place Craig Reimer/Mike Forsblum.
7th Flight: 1st place Jon Horowitz/Mike Haber, 2nd place Fred Stabbert III/Hal Roeder, 3rd place Martin Handler/George Will.