Bryan Kordupel reacts to a missed putt that allowed Brandon Pluchinsky (back, right) to win the 2021 Mens Open Greatest Golfer.
By GREG GULAS
For Greatest Golfer
POLAND – To say that Brandon Pluchinsky has a stranglehold on the Greatest Golfer Men’s Open championship is an understatement.
Like he did a year ago, Pluchinsky defeated Bryan Kordupel on the first play-off hole to capture his third straight Open title and his fifth on the last six years.
Pluchinsky went bogey on the No. 18 play-off hole while Kordupel went double-bogey to finish runner-up for the second straight year.
“It feels great, but I didn’t want to win like that. I felt terrible for Bryan because he missed two shots that he would ordinarily make in his sleep,” Pluchinsky said. “I have full faith that Bryan will be back again next year challenging once again for the Open championship.”
Pluchinsky (71-72) carded 67 to force the playoff and finished 210 for the 54-hole tournament. Kordupel (69-71) carded 70 to finish 210 as well.
John Doughton (70-70) carded 71 to close at 211.
“When I was three strokes back, I was patiently waiting to hear the scores because I knew that I had to push, but not press too hard," Pluchinsky said. "It was all-around consistent golf. I had five birdies and two bogeys but the 30-footer that I made for birdie on No. 17 and the five-footer on No. 18 to force the play-off were two key shots for me.”
A record 345 golfers registered for this year’s tournament.
In the New York Life Insurance Legends Open, Canfield’s Larry McCall won his first championship with a 224 (73-79-72), firing a 72 on the final day to outdistance Tim Porter (72-82-73) by three strokes.
This was McCall’s seventh Greatest tournament.
“I just turned 70 years old on July 31 so I found an age group in which I could compete,” McCall said with tongue in cheek. “I made more putts today than I have all year, but missed some putts the last two days. So it all evened out. Tim is a great competitor, an excellent golfer and this was a fun tournament.”
Pete Bennett of Poland captured the Cole Valley Cadillac Legends (Over 70) 8-plus division, firing an 83 on Sunday.
It was his fourth Greatest title, having also won in 2012, 2016 and 2019
“It gets harder every year but this was one was fun,” Bennett said. “The greens were extremely difficult, I didn’t have a birdie and struggled putting with seven, three-putts. The pin positions were tough and the fairways wet so what you hit is what you got.”
In Save-a-Lot Seniors 7-12 play, Gary Trybus won in his very first championship, carding 76 which was a stroke better than Dave Tabak and two strokes better than Joseph Bettura.
“Basically, I didn’t make any mistakes today,” Trybus stated. “I did take an eight on a par-5 on the back nine, but rallied. “I putted well, except for that one hole. Needless to say, I’ll return next year to defend my title.”
Dick Marlowe, who has played in all 12 Greatest events, fired 72 but needed a two-hole play-off to defeat Fred Gintert by two strokes.
He has now played in four Seniors events and has two wins and two runner-up finishes.
“The greens were tough today, softer and slow as opposed to harder and fast that I have been playing the last couple months or so,” Marlowe noted. “I hit some shots that I wish I had back. I putted terribly and chipping was a challenge. But what I do best is grind it out. This is the toughest game that I have ever played or attempted.”
In the 10 flighted divisions, players played a 36-hole qualifier to get to an 18-hole shootout on Sunday.
In Signature Granite Ladies low net action, Columbiana’s Taylor Ross captured her first title by firing a net 64, defeating Jackie Adler by six strokes and Alexis Gray, who was 10 shots off the pace.
She is currently a junior member of the Adrian College links squad.
“I struggled with my outing the first two days. But today, I putted much better,” Ross said. “I didn’t post any birdies but hit quite a few greens and that was the key.”
In the Signature Granite Ladies high net division, Karen Patella fired a 77 to defeat Sandra DiMargio by a stroke and Pam Porter, who was three shots off the pace.
“What a brutal day,” Patella noted. “I shot a 50 on the front nine but came back with 45 on the back nine, birdying my last two holes. I didn’t know who was leading, just kept my focus and it paid off. Putting was a challenge for me.”
Robert Chenet of Aliquippa fired a 76 to capture the Seniors 13-plus division, his second Greatest championship. Chenet’s first title came in 2015.
“I’ve played this event nine times, made the cut five times and won twice. So I am a pretty happy guy right now.” Chenet stated. “The last three years, I have had some health issues, but today I feel great. Because of the moisture and dampness, I felt like this was one of the easier course set-ups, at least for me. Hitting the ball straight was probably the key for me.”
Jack Ferreri, an Austintown Fitch High School product, authored a 77 to capture the Fox Funeral Home Men’s 7-9 division, two strokes better than 36-hole winner Michael Guerrieri, who took runner-up laurels over Mike Moore by virtue of a scorecard playoff.
“My mindset all weekend was to just try to relax and have a good time,” Ferreri said. “When there is pressure to do well, you tend to hit bad shots. So all I wanted was to play it hole by hole, shot by shot. My irons were working the entire round, putting and chipping was alright, but I wasn’t all over the place with my drives and that was big.”
Rocky Page captured the Koncrete Dezign Men’s 13-15 division by firing an 81, his first win in three tournament tries.
“I made the cut just once in two previous tries, so to me, it just doesn’t get any better than this,” Page stated. “I relied on my short game and it didn’t let me down.”
Matt Bostian carded 98, a stroke better than Jason Barnot and two strokes better than Michael Mastoris to earn the Men’s 16-19 division title.
It was Bostian’s second tournament appearance, having failed to make the cut in 2018.
“The Lake Club course is tough, so course management was big for me today,” Bostian noted. “I was able to stay out of trouble all day and played smart when I needed to.”
In Men’s 20-24 action, Dan Monico fired a 93, a stroke better than James Gorman and five shots better than Nicholas Lamb. It was his first championship in six Greatest tries.
“I played within my comfort zone and got lucky quite a few times,” Monico said. “I putted well but felt I could have putted better, wishing I could have back those three triple bogeys.”
Steve Smoot of Brookfield captured the Elias CPA Group Men’s 3-6 division by posting a 74.
“This is my seventh tournament, the fourth time that I made the cut and my first win. So it feels absolutely great,” Smoot stated. “My approach shots were great all day and the fact that I didn’t lose a ball made me happy.”
In Men’s 10-12 Open action, Eric Rapp, Hank Morris and Jamie Palumbo each fired 76 to force a three-way playoff with Rapp finishing first, Morris second and Palumbo third.