As it turned out, the eyes were on the wrong group.
Through much of the front nine of yesterday's final round in the 88th annual Middle Atlantic Amateur golf championship, it appeared as though the chase was between neighborhood club rivals Marty West III of Columbia Country Club and Pat Tallent of Congressional CC.
Then Vince Zachetti, who had been hanging just off the pace through three rounds, birdied three holes in a five-hole span to jump into contention at Hunt Valley Golf Club.
At the finish, Zachetti three-putted the last hole for 71 and a 72-hole total of 290, but it stood up when West, who had fallen behind with bogeys at the 16th and 17th holes, missed a 15-foot birdie putt from below the 18th cup. Tallent had fallen out of it with three back-nine bogeys.
Four-time champion West wound up second 77-291, and Tallent (77-293) tied for third with David Partridge of Richmond, Va.
Zachetti, from Greensburg, Pa., said he knew where he stood throughout the round, but would have liked to play with the leader.
"I feed off others' mistakes," said Zachetti, 42, a postal worker. "I want to beat them, but at this level, you can't just jump out and tackle the opposition. The first three rounds sort out the good players, and then it becomes a putting contest."
A former Pennsylvania State Amateur champion and two-time winner of the West Penn championship, Zachetti had much the best of the putting among the top three, collecting four birdies for his round. The most important one came at No. 15, where he made a 10-foot putt.
It got him to one over for the tournament, and turned out to be the difference when he needed three putts at the treacherous 18th green, the second from 12 feet after a narrow miss caught a downslope.
Zachetti's most important shot, however, was a driver second-shot to 30 feet left of the flagstick on the 504-yard eighth hole.
"I was mad after missing a birdie putt at the seventh, and I really went after the next one," he said.
The eagle putt caught the high side of the cup and spun a foot DTC away, but the ensuing birdie helped get him to the turn even for the nine, three over for the tournament.
West bogeyed No. 8, Tallent bogeyed No. 9, and they made the turn one over for the tournament and two shots ahead of Zachetti. But, that margin began to disappear when Zachetti made a two-putt birdie at the par-5 11th, and hit an 8-iron to within five feet at the 12th to set up another birdie.
Vince Zachetti, Greensboro, Pa., 71-74-74-71--290; Marty West III, Rockville, 73-68-73-77--291; David Partridge, Richmond, Va., 79-73-70-71--293; Pat Tallent, Vienna, Va., 72-70-74-77--293; Tom Gramigna, Haddonfield, N.J., 75-70-72-77--294; Dicky Pride, Tuscaloosa, Ala., 73-75-73-73--294; Mike Cox, Lusby, 70-73-81-73--297; Eric Kirsch, Steubenville, Ohio, 74-76-71-77--298; Joel Kaye, Woodholme, 77-76-70-77--300; Mark Kammholz, Glenn Dale, 73-75-74-78--300; Scott Seymour, Clifton, Va., 76-79-75-71--301; Graeme Skeen, South Africa, 75-76-77-73--301; Peter Martin, Green Spring, 77-78-71-75--301.
Mike Lutz, Prospect Bay, 75-79-69-79--302; Ben Brundred III, Congressional, 73-81-76-73--303; Mitch Wyatt, Salisbury, 82-74-74-73--303; Richard Thomas, Arlington, Va., 76-77-75-75--303; Mark Farrell, Hunt Valley, 77-74-76-76--303; Bill Stout, Arlington, Va., 75-75-74-79--303; Bob Kaestner, Baltimore CC, 79-71-76-78--304; Walker Taylor, Wilmington,N.C., 73-79-75-77--304; Tom Jung, New York, 76-72-80-77--305; Terry Burke, Congressional, 78-76-74-77--305; Joe Records, Hunt Valley, 76-73-78-78--305; Steve Thomas, Crofton, 76-76-81-73--306; Joe Cordaro, Oakmont,Pa., 78-74-78-76--306; Dom Istorico, Albany, N.Y., 76-75-76-79--306.
Richard Klein, Hunt Valley, 74-79-76-78--307; Bill Jenks, Boston, 80-76-73-78--307; Bobby Crane, Old South, 77-78-78-75--308; Bob Smith, Plover, Wis., 80-77-74-77--308; Mike Rethman, Hobbit's Glen, 75-80-78-76--309; Mike Sanger, Green Spring, 73-79-79-78--309; Henry Blue, Caves Valley, 76-78-79-77--310; Kevin Dillard, Fairfax, Va., 78-77-78-77--310; Bob Vespa, Greensboro, N.C, 76-77-78-79--310; Gary Metzger, Annapolis, 79-75-77-80--311; Steve Javetski, Waldorf, 78-77-77-80--312; Don Bachtell, Hagerstown, 74-77-81-80--312; Jim Castagna, Rockville, 80-73-77-82--312; Dan Walko, Hunt Valley, 74-76-82-81--313; Gary Lipski, Hillendale, 76-76-80-83--315; Jim Cecchini, Amherst, N.Y., 72-80-80-83--315; Lee Martinson, Hillendale, 74-80-72-WD.