Sullivan County Democrat
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Good Game

Democrat Photo by Rob Potter

MAXX KLEINER SHAKES hands with Barry Winter, right, after Winter and Ken Cohen, center, narrowly defeated Maxx and his cousin Ben Kleiner, left, in Sunday’s championship flight final of the 24th Annual Sullivan County Democrat Two Man-Better Ball Golf Tournament.

'Democrat' Tourney
Again a Success

By Rob Potter
CALLICOON — August 16, 2005 – The team of Ken Cohen and Barry Winter won their record fourth Sullivan County Democrat Two-Man Better Ball Golf Tournament on Sunday at the Villa Roma Country Club in Callicoon.
Played under hot and humid conditions which were better suited for south Florida, 62 teams vied for the championship of Sullivan County’s longest running tournament.
“We had a great field of very good golfers,” said Democrat Publisher Fred Stabbert III. “But I believe it’s the sportsmanship and comraderie that really sets this tournament apart.”
The tourney in now in its 24th year and is still the highlight of the summer golf season for many golfers.
“Villa Roma Pro Matt Kleiner continues to do a great job as tournament director and his staff is to be commended for their work through two violent thunderstorms,” Stabbert said.
With 92 players on the course Friday afternoon and only three holes to play, the skies turned dark and a strong thunderstorm rolled in.
After the storm passed, maintenance crews quickly chainsawed fallen trees, broomed flooded greens and prepared the course for play.
The tournament was again delayed on Saturday, but only for 30 minutes.
“We got very lucky with the weather,” Stabbert commented. “We should know better than to schedule a tourney on Woodstock weekend.”
The Championship
Ken Cohen and Barry Winter defeated the team of Ben Kleiner and Maxx Kleiner 1-up in the championship flight final.
After playing 17 holes in the very hot and humid conditions, the two teams were even. But Cohen’s birdie putt on the 18th hole proved to be the difference. He sank the ball from about 12 inches from the cup to secure the victory.
Cohen’s short putt was set up by an amazing second shot. The ball landed near the bunker in front of the green, bounced and steadily rolled onto the green and stopped just a foot from the pin.
Ben Kleiner and Maxx Kleiner, who are cousins, each had a chance to tie Cohen and Winter on 18. But each of their chip shots onto the green rolled tantalizingly close to the edge of the hole and then stopped a couple of feet away from the pin.
Cohen and Winter also teamed up to win the Democrat tournament in 1992, 1997 and 1999. In addition, Cohen has won the event four other times with four different partners. In 1984, Cohen and Jim Grossinger captured the title; in 1987, Cohen teamed up with Jack Jordan to win the event; in 1994, Cohen and Mitchell Etess won the tourney; and just last year, Cohen and Charles Johnston won the championship.
“It was a tough match,” Cohen said of the final match with the Kleiners. “It was tough for many reasons. One, it was tough playing against two great kids like Ben and Maxx. It’s difficult because they are great players and great kids. You find yourself rooting for them even though you are playing against them.
“And it was tough tournament because of the heat all weekend,” added Cohen, a resident of Jeffersonville.
Winter, who lives in Beacon and is a member of the Dutchess Golf and Country Club in Poughkeepsie, was impressed with the way the Kleiner cousins competed.
“They were great,” Winter said. “They hit the ball well and they played like gentlemen.”
Cohen noted that he and Winter had “two miracles in this tournament.”
He said the first was rallying to win their opening match in the championship flight on the first playoff hole. The second was his approach shot to the green on the final hole.
“It was a lucky bounce, no question about it,” Cohen said of his shot that set up his tournament-winning putt.
The Kleiners won the first hole when Maxx drained a 6-foot birdie putt. But Cohen and Winter evened the match when Cohen made a birdie putt on the third hole.
Cohen converted a birdie putt on the fourth hole and another on the sixth to give him and Winter a two-hole advantage. But the Kleiners birdied number 8 and parred number 9 to even the match.
Cohen and Winter took one shot leads on 11 and 13, but Maxx Kleiner’s putt on 15 evened the match once again. The teams then parred 16 and 17 to remain tied heading for the 18th hole.
Although they were understandably disappointed after falling on the final hole, Ben and Maxx Kleiner were pleased with their overall performance.
“We got down a couple of times, but came back to even it up and go to the last hole,” said Maxx Kleiner, who lives in Queens and will soon begin his freshman year at George Washington University. “We had to play and defeat four very tough teams to get to this match.”
In their first championship flight match, 18-year-old Maxx and 16-year-old Ben defeated Sean Semenetz – who won the 2003 tournament with Nick Yaun – and Joe Winski Jr. in 19 holes. Then the Kleiners beat two-time Democrat champions Gregg Semenetz and Bill Phillips 1-up to reach the semifinals.
In the semifinals, the Kleiners beat Solomon and Johnston 2 and 1. Solomon won the Democrat back in 1988 with Jack Jordan, while Johnston won the 2004 tourney with Cohen and teamed with Terry Wolcott to win the 1989 Democrat.
“We keep improving,” said Ben Kleiner, who will be a junior at Sullivan West this fall. “This is the fourth time we’ve played together in this tournament. We made the championship flight in 2003 and lost our first match. Last year, we made the championship flight and lost in the semifinals. And now we made it to the finals of the championship flight.”
When asked if he and his cousin would be playing in the 2006 Democrat tournament, Ben Kleiner was quick to reply.
“We were very close to winning this year, so we’ll definitely be back next year.”
Among the opening round highlights were an eagle by John Meyer on number 5 and a 7-under par 64 recorded by Semenetz and Phillips on Friday morning.
The top three teams in each flight were as follows:
Championship Flight: 1st – Ken Cohen/Barry Winter; 2nd – Ben Kleiner/Maxx Kleiner; 3rd – Doug Novogrodsky/Mike Novogrodsky
First Flight: 1st – Sean Semenetz/Joe Winski Jr.; 2nd – John Singh/Pravin Singh; 3rd – Robert Berman/Doug Appel
Second Flight: 1st – Pat Murtagh/Randy Armstrong; 2nd – Terry Wolcott/Bob Simpson; 3rd – Tom Willi/Bob Jones
Third Flight: 1st – Michael Kaufman/Tyler White; 2nd – Andrew Etter/Jon Etter; 3rd – John Meyer/Tom Meyer
Fourth Flight: 1st – Mark Thatcher/Don Slyne; 2nd – Ryan Novick/Stu Novick; 3rd – Craig Fleischman/Tim Llewyn
Fifth Flight: 1st – Matt Turnbull/Ken Osberg; 2nd – Fred Stabbert III/Hal Roeder; 3rd – Joel Dnistrian/Ed Lohr
Sixth Flight: 1st – Charlie Siegel/Lou Siegel; 2nd – David Bilkis/Roger Muller; 3rd – Steve Schmidt/Rick Ellison
Seventh Flight: 1st – Don Appel/Tim Phipps; 2nd – John Fischer/Steven Johnson; 3rd – Henry Kubenik/Gary Erlwein.

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