Kristina Sumfleth | Democrat
Josh Goldstein sinks the winning birdie putt on the 23rd hole to win the longest Democrat championship final in history. He and his dad Arthur defeated Drew Billard and Ken Cohen to become the first father-son tandem to win the tournament.
Goldsteins prevail in epic final
CALLICOON August 13, 2013 As the sun set and more than 100 people circled the fifth green at the Villa Roma Country Club, the electric scene captured why The Democrat is the region's unparalleled golf tournament.
Nowhere else is there a two-man best-ball event with the level of competition, caliber of players and pressure-packed drama. And it all played out beautifully and tensely Sunday as the teams of Josh and Arthur Goldstein and Drew Billard and Ken Cohen came to the 23rd hole of their epic championship match (the longest in Democrat finals history). To that point, the four players had delivered a finals for the ages, combining for 10 birdies, clutch shotmaking and a match that never put one team more than one up.
When you consider that Josh is a former MGA Public Links champion, Cohen won the 1998 New Jersey State Mid-Amateur championship and Billard is a rising talent who led the Orange County league in scoring average this past high school season while qualifying for the state tournament, the exceptional play was not a surprise. Maybe the biggest surprise was the play of Arthur Goldstein, a 10-handicapper who has never played in this type of competition before. He raised his game, hit some great shots and halved three key holes when Josh was in trouble.
But in the end, it was a silky 25-foot birdie putt by Josh Goldstein on that fifth playoff hole that won the tournament, the culmination of a brilliant putting round in which he made several mid-range birdie putts. For Josh, it was his third Democrat title (he had previously won back-to-back championships with Mike Culclasure in 2008 and 2009. He and Arthur (teaming up for the first time) also became the first father-son duo to ever win The Democrat.
“It was exciting to win,” said Arthur Goldstein. “We hadn’t played together in two years. It was a father’s dream. That was the best match we’ve ever had.”
“Josh's putting really proved to be the difference,” said nine-time champion Ken Cohen in defeat. “He’s a special type of player a fearless competitor who is not afraid to hit a big shot at the right moment.”
Perhaps Josh's biggest shot came on the 18th tee. Down one, the long-hitter dared the 260-yard carry over the water and nutted a 300-yard drive to the edge of the fairway, setting himself up with a short iron to the green. Meanwhile, Billard and Cohen laid up short of the water off the tee leaving themselves lengthy second shots. Cohen’s ball ended up about 20 yards short of the green in a gnarly lie while Billard's approach found the greenside bunker, close to the lip. Josh hit his second shot about 25 feet past the pin. Cohen chunked his third shot while Billard exploded just on to the green about 35 feet away. Billard missed his par putt and Goldstein two-putted to extend the match.
The first two extra holes were halved with pars. Arthur Goldstein made a great up and down on the second playoff hole when Josh was out of the hole. On the par-five third hole, Billard made a clutch seven-footer for birdie to halve Josh, who had reached the fringe in two. Billard was left alone on the hole after Cohen called a penalty on himself for inadvertently moving his ball during his pre-shot waggle prior to his third shot.
After halving the fourth playoff hole with pars, Goldstein bombed another 300-yard plus drive on the fifth hole, setting up a short wedge shot which he smartly placed 25 feet below the hole. Billard flew the green on his approach and Cohen hit a nice-looking shot that just caught the wrong side of the ridge and rolled off the green about 40 feet away.
“I’ve had some exhilarating victories in this tournament and have lost in the finals before,” said Cohen. “But this one stings. We had an opportunity to close out the match on No. 18 and just didn’t get it done. I’m disappointed that I basically choked on my chip shot. It was a tough lie, but I have to hit a better shot there.”
While hard on himself in defeat, Cohen couldn’t say enough about Billard. “He stepped up big time throughout the two days,” said Cohen. “You forget sometimes that he’s only been playing golf for five years or so. He is still developing as a player and a competitor and I’m just happy for him that he was able to experience this type of match. He came up with some huge shots under pressure.”
Cohen hit some clutch shots of his own down the stretch to help give his team a one-up lead. He made a 25-footer for birdie on No. 15 which Goldstein topped with his own six-footer and then hit a beautiful 5-iron into No. 16 setting up a two-putt par and the one-up lead. He also birdied three holes in a row in a tough semifinal match against Peter Rymer and his former partner Barry Winter to help turn a one-down deficit after 10 holes into a 3 and 2 victory.
The Goldsteins also had an edgy ride to the finals, needing 20 holes to get past Justin and Randy Armstrong in the quarterfinals and then going 17 holes before dispatching of former champs Sean Semenetz and Joe Winski.
“I just wanted to go and have some fun with my dad,” said Josh. “I stopped playing to finish school and really haven’t played for almost a year and half. “
Other flight winners were: Mike Kaufman/Nate Steingart (1st flight); Marvin Newberg/Tom Drobysh (2nd flight); Mark Thatcher/Sean McDonald (3rd flight); Eric Garchick/Martin Gottesman (4th flight) and Evan Friedman/Richard Deixler (5th flight).
The three-day tournament drew 52 teams and once again experienced a rainy Friday qualifying round that was interrupted for more than two hours. Heavy downpours saturated the greens and filled the bunkers. But some yeoman’s work by Jeff Coccodrilli's grounds crew got the course playable for the conclusion of the qualifying round and then again for the start of match play on Saturday morning. Director of Golf Matt Kleiner and his staff also went above and beyond to ensure that the tournament continued without a hitch.
“My hat goes off to all of the grounds crew and Matt for doing such a good job,” said Arthur Goldstein. “I couldn’t believe we played on Friday after the rain.”
2013 QUALIFYING SCORES
Meyer-Roseo d. Elliott-Elliott
Rymer-Winter d. Kleiner-Kleiner
Cohen-Billard d. Schmidt-Wheeler
Berry-Sherlock d. Kaufman-Steingart
Goldsteins d. Goldstein-Rushanski
Armstrongs d. Clifford-Herzog
Phillips-Semenetz d. Lafaro-Fleishman
Semenetz-Winski d. Negri-Faruggio
Rymer-Winter d. Meyer-Roseo
Cohen-Billard d. Berry-Sherlock
Goldsteins d. Armstrongs
Semenetz-Winski d. Semenetz-Phillips
Cohen-Billard d. Rymer-Winter
Goldsteins d. Semenetz-Winski
Goldsteins d. Cohen-Billard (23 holes)
Elliott-Elliott d. Rushanski-Goldstein
Kaufman-Steingart d. Negri-Farrugio
Fleishman-Lafaro d. Kleiner-Kleiner
Schmidt-Wheeler d. Clifford-Herzog
Kaufman-Steingart d. Elliott-Elliott
Schmidt-Wheeler d. Fleishman-Lafaro
Kaufman-Steingart d. Schmidt-Wheeler
Newberg-Drobysh d. Kubenik-Blumenthal
Murtagh-Winters d. Reiber-Rein
Levine-Kenny d. Sigelakis-Sigelakis
Reimer-Peavey d. Bojo-Backlund
Newberg-Drobysh d. Murtagh-Winters
Levine-Kenny d. Reimer-Peavey
Newberg-Drobysh d. Levine-Kenny
Thatcher-McDonald d. O’Brien-Pohlman
Russell-Ottino d. Stieglitz-Cardo
Nober-Annabel d. Gallo-Gallo
Etter-Etter d. Walsh-Simpson
Thatcher-McDonald d. Russell-Ottino
Etter-Etter d. Nober-Annabel
Thatcher-McDonald d. Etter-Etter
Passante-Selthafner d. Shapiro-Dubois
Meyer-Meyer d. Correa-Schumacher
Kaufman-Herfeld d. Katz-Gordon
Garchick-Gottesman d. James-Colla
Passante-Selthafner d. Meyer-Meyer
Garchick-Gottesman d. Kaufman-Herfeld
Garchick-Gottesman d. Passante-Selthafner
Steingarts d. Negri-D’Amico
Novick-Novick d. Barrett-Weyant
Whitaker-Berens d. Meirowitz-Park
Friedman-Diexler d. Lafleur-Wunderluch
Novick-Novick d. Steingart-Steingart
Friedman-Diexler d. Whitaker-Berens
Friedman-Diexler d. Novick-Novick