By Rob Potter
CALLICOON August 10, 2004 As dozens of golfers prepared for the final round of the 23rd Annual Sullivan County Democrat Two-Man, Better Ball Golf Tournament on Sunday afternoon at the Villa Roma Country Club, one thing was certain. Without a doubt, this years tournament winners would be past champions of the event.
Unlike last year, when the team of Sean Semenetz and Nick Yaun captured their first SCD Tournament, all four men involved in the championship flight final had won the event at least once before.
On one side in the title match was the team of Ken Cohen and Charlie Johnston. Cohen has won the tournament six times, while Johnston teamed with Terry Wolcott to win the 1989 event. Cohen teamed with Barry Winter to capture the SCD tourney title in 1992, 1997 and 1999. Cohen won his three other championships playing with a trio of other local golfers: Jim Grossinger (1984), Jack Jordan (1987) and Mitchell Etess (1994).
Facing the Cohen/Johnston duo was the team of Gregg Semenetz Sr. and Bill Phillips. Semenetz and Phillips won the SCD tournament in 2001 and 2002.
After a very competitive match that lasted almost four hours, Cohen and Johnston had earned their seventh and second, respectively, SCD championships.
Through the first 15 holes, Cohen/Johnston were 3-up on Semenetz/Phillips. Cohen and Johnston clinched the title when each duo made par on the par 4 430-yard 16th hole.
This championship is the best one, Cohen said. They are all good, but this is the best one.
Cohen explained that he wanted to capture the 2004 Democrat title for several reasons.
My baby girl was born last month and I really wanted to win it for her, he said, talking about his infant daughter Gabrielle or Gabby, whom he and his wife, Tanya, welcomed into their lives on July 2. The golf balls I used had the word Gabby printed on them. And I wanted to win for Charlie. He and I are best friends and we golf together on a weekly basis. But this was the first time we teamed up for this tournament.
Cohen said that another motivating factor for him was the fact that he had already captured SCD golf tourney titles in the 1980s and 90s. He wanted to win the event in three different decades.
In addition, Cohen noted that he had a desire to win the tournament 20 years apart.
While Cohen was able to accomplish those goals with Sundays victory, there was no indication early in the match that he would reach those objectives.
The title match began with the teams halving the first three holes. But on the par 4, 408-yard 4th hole, Cohen made a 10-foot birdie to put his team 1-up.
But Phillips tied the match by making a putt from about five feet away from the cup on the 5th hole.
Cohen made two more birdie putts on the next two holes to put he and Johnston 2-up through seven holes. That lead grew to 3-up on the 10th hole.
But Phillips and Semenetz soon proved that lead was not safe. The duo parred the 11th hole to pull back within two strokes.
Then on the 12th hole, Phillips sank a four-foot putt to bring the two-time champions to within one stroke.
However, Johnston made a six-foot birdie putt on the 13th hole and Cohen sank an eight-foot birdie putt on number 14 to push their lead back to 3-up.
When Cohen made a short putt on 16 for par, he clinched the championship.
Cohen noted that the key point of the match may have been when Johnston made his birdie putt on 13.
Charlie made a great putt on that hole, Cohen said. Greg and Bill are great players and they really hung in there. They had just won the last two holes and we were only 1-up. But Charlies putt made it 2-up and stopped their momentum.
Johnston was happy that he and Cohen were able to finally play as a team in the event.
Hes a great friend, Johnston said of Cohen. Hes a great golfer and makes it easy to play with him. We teamed up fine this weekend.
Johnston also noted that Cohens birdie putts were integral to the victory.
Kennys a true champion, he said. Hes able to stay calm and play on an even level. Then hes able to step up his game and make some great shots when he needs to.
Phillips and Semenetz also noted that putting was the key factor in the match.
They made the putts they needed to and they deserved to win, Semenetz said. We had our chances, but couldnt capitalize on them. The bottom line is that Ken and Charlie made putts this afternoon and we didnt.
Kenny is the best golfer in the area and Charlie is an outstanding player in his own right, so when you put them together they make a phenomenal team, Phillips commented. They played better than we did today and made the putts when they had to.
Taking third place in the championship flight was the father-and-son team of Pravin and John Singh.
The top three teams in the other flights were as follows:
First Flight: 1st place Sean Semenetz/Joe Winski; 2nd place David Solomon/Jack Jordan; 3rd place Andrew Etter/Jon Etter.
Second Flight: 1st place Jared Kubenik/Rich Schmidt; 2nd place Mike Novogrodsky/Justin Whipple; 3rd place Tom Willi/Bob Jones.
Third Flight: 1st place Ron Goodman/Paul Glantz; 2nd place Sean Novick/Stu Novick; 3rd place Dean Friedman/Adam Platin.
Fourth Flight: 1st place Lou Siegel/Charles Siegel; 2nd place John Meyer/Tom Meyer; 3rd place Sy Solomon/Kyle Hoar.
Fifth Flight: 1st place Roger Pratt/Michal Antonacci; 2nd place Steve Schmidt/Rick Ellison; 3rd place Ed Lohr/Joel Dnistrian.
Sixth Flight: 1st place Roger Widmann/John Fisher; 2nd place Brian Starr/John Arpino; 3rd place Joseph Palumbo/Anthony Truglio.