Tommy Howe & Matt Froncek fired a 7-under-par 62 in the final round of this year's Honesdale Golf Club Member/Guest Tournament, which was played on Sunday. That amazing score enabled the duo to rally from a late deficit and win the 32nd annual championship.
Tom Howe and Matt Froncek stood at the 18th tee box Sunday evening.
The duo huddled to carefully consider what approach would be best for this final fairway.
Howe & Froncek were just one of three groups still out on the Honesdale Golf Club’s rain-saturated course. To the best of their knowledge, the battle for the 2009 Member/Guest trophy was still up in the air.
That belief...and whatever aggressive strategy they may have been contemplating for the 18th ...changed quickly when a spectator approached.
A Deep Breath
He told Tommy &?Matt that both groups behind them had run into serious trouble. Defending champions Eric Williams & Ed Markowski were three shots down with two holes to play.
Perennial title contenders Jim Gardas & Howard Vroon were in similarly dire straits. Either team would need either a miraculous finish or a meltdown by Howe & Froncek to win.
“That altered our thinking a little bit,”?Howe told TWI Sports with a laugh. “At that point, all we had to do was avoid a disaster and finish our round.”
That’s just what they did.
Both Howe & Froncek hit their tees shots wide right of the 18th green, staying as far as possible from the white out-of-bounds stakes that line the left side of the final fairway.
Tommy &?Matt each executed a solid chip and flawless putt, closing out a brilliant round. The veteran links duo turned in a score of 7-under-par 62, capped by a scintillating 29 on HGC’s treacherous back nine.
“Believe it or not, we really could have posted a much lower score,” Howe said. “We were lipping out putts left and right. If we got even a couple of those to fall, we’d have shot in the 50s.
As it stood, Howe & Froncek still managed an impressive victory over formidable foes.
The teams of Williams & Markowski and Gardas &?Vroon finished three shots back in an event whose format was altered to compensate for a weekend’s worth of nasty weather.
This win was the eighth for Howe, a former standout golfer and varsity links coach at Western Wayne High School.
“It’s really a great feeling to win this one,”?Tommy said. “I?mean, beating Eric Williams and Jimmy Gardas on their home course is a pretty tall order.”
The event began as the Carmody Memorial back in the ‘80s. However, the trophy now bears the name of Walter Markowski...a longtime HGC?member and organizer of this tournament.
Howe & Froncek entered the final round of this 32nd annual event battling both inclement weather and local legends.
Eric Williams and Jim Gardas grew up at HGC and know all of the course’s intricacies. Both played well on Sunday, but each came up a bit short in their pursuit of the torrid pace set by Howe & Froncek.
“Matt is really a great partner,” Tommy said. “He’s very competitive, but he never lets his emotions get the better of him. He’s pretty laid back and that helps keep things relaxed.”
The pair trailed both groups heading onto the back nine, but neither Howe nor Froncek felt the pressure.
“I?was pretty confident that we’d catch them,” Howe said. “We were playing very well and we have a little bit of experience on our side.”
Howe pointed out that both he and his partner are over 50-years-old and have a ton of competitive golf under their belts.
They weren’t about to fold over the course of nine holes. In fact, Howe & Froncek ratcheted up their game a couple of notches and began piling up red numbers.
By the time they arrived at the 18th tee box, they’d carded five late birdies. Tommy rolled in four birdie putts, while Matt added three in this final round explosion.
The best Williams & Markowski and Gardas & Vroon could manage was a 65. Good scores, but not good enough to win this rain-drenched tournament.
•First Flight: Tom & Scotty Corrigan (69).
•Second Flight: Lee Pingel & Ed Langendoerfer.
•Third Flight: Sam Siepiela & Jerry Chervanka.
•Fourth Flight: Mike Birmelin &?Jerry Burns (71).
•Fifth Flight: Sam Chapman & Paul Fruehan (72).
•Sixth Flight: Ron Gardas & Dan Vroon (73).