MT. LAUREL (September 1, 2016) -- Kevin Sarlo converted a right-to-left breaking 15-footer for birdie on the first playoff hole to give him and Drew Guarino the 45th Philadelphia Four-Ball Stroke Play Championship title Thursday at Laurel Creek Country Club (par 71, 6,396 yards). The two defeated Tavistock Country Club’s Tom Gramigna and Jamie Slonis, as well as Five Ponds Golf Club’s Drew Panebianco and Hidden Creek Golf Club’s Charles Scalzott, on No. 1 (par 4, 380 yards) in overtime.
All three teams finished regulation tied at 7-under-par 64. The event’s format is better-ball of partners.
“My heart was pumping a little bit,” Sarlo, 22, said of the first playoff hole. “It was nice to see Drew knock one in there close before me. The putt had about a foot and a half of break. I was more nervous watching the four other guys go ahead of me and all come within centimeters [of the cup]. It was nice to see [my birdie] go in.”
Prior to the triumphant birdie, Sarlo, a Burlington Country Club member, briefly searched for his drive, thinking it settled somewhere in the right rough. He found it deeply plugged in the fairway, some 20 yards from the hole location. Intermittent showers throughout the day caused soft conditions. Guarino nestled a wedge 30 yards to seven feet above the hole location. He didn’t need to see the putt through.
"This was my first round in a month,” Guarino, 20, said. “He kept me going in the beginning and then I found something. We took off from there.”
Gramigna and Slonis, playing in the day’s first group, set the scoring benchmark. An eagle-birdie finish in regulation gave the Guarino and Sarlo team, which started on the back nine, a fighting chance.
On the tempting No. 8 (par 4, 314 yards), Sarlo, sensing a need for heroics, debated driver. The inner-dialogue didn’t last long after Guarino found the fairway. Sarlo, a killer instinct intact, powered a drive onto the green.
“We knew the lead was 7 under, so I figured why waste an opportunity. I swung pretty good at it, took it right over the trees,” Sarlo said. He converted a left-to-right breaking 17-footer for eagle.
The Burlington, N.J. residents stepped to the par 5, 529-yard No. 9 with eagle and outright victory prospects. Things appeared promising once Guarino hammered a 4-iron 200 yards to 35 feet. However, he ran the eagle try five feet by and made the comebacker. Prior to the thrilling conclusion, the Guarino and Sarlo team revved the red engine with three straight birdies. On No. 3 (par 3, 133 yards), Sarlo stopped a pitching wedge at eight feet. Guarino drained an uphill 15-footer on the next hole (par 4, 359 yards) following a 56-degree wedge from 95 yards. A clutch 20-footer for birdie courtesy of Sarlo on the par 5, 486-yard No. 5 “made up for a poor chip” from 20 yards in front of the green.
“We both drove the ball great today. That was the X-factor,” Guarino, a sophomore at Rowan College at Burlington County, said. “We really fed off each other and picked each other up when one of us was out of a hole.”
“Drew was always in the hole,” Sarlo, a senior at Rutgers University-Camden, added. “Honestly, I think his strength was coming up big when I hit bad shots. I hit a 3-wood way out-of-bounds on No. 12 and he ended up driving it right down the middle. He’s always clutch in the big moment.”
The Guarino and Sarlo team competed in the morning. Post-round, Guarino delivered pizzas per his employment. He raced to Laurel Creek once Sarlo made the playoff phone call.
“It’s nice to have a place close by that you know well,” Guarino, an Old York at Chesterfield member, said.
Guarino and Sarlo met while representing Burlington Township High School’s golf team. The two frequently traversed Laurel Creek to compete. In fact, the property stuck out like a sore thumb in 2012. Burlington Township’s team stood undefeated that season before falling to Moorestown High School at Laurel Creek.
That loss, however, was ultimately irrelevant; Burlington Township captured the state title that year.
View results for Philadelphia Four-Ball Stroke Play Championship