Former champions Kirk Lombardi and Dave Rasley brought different golf games to Hillendale Country Club yesterday, but -- the result was the same -- two victories and places in this morning's scheduled 36-hole final in the 74th annual Maryland State Golf Association Men's Amateur championship.
Lombardi, the 1988 titlist, was around par in beating Pat Tallent, last year's losing finalist from Congressional CC, 2 and 1, then dipped to 4-under in a 4-and-3 conquest of Joe Wood, a regular playing companion at Norbeck CC.
Rasley, the winner in 1992, had a great front nine in the morning, going 4 up over Lakewood CC clubmate Mike Watson before starting to struggle.
Watson, a former pro, eventually ran out of holes, losing, 2 and 1. Rasley's struggles continued in the afternoon before his putter bailed him out with a 12-footer for birdie and a 19-hole decision over Alan Zimmerman of Holly Hills CC.
Earlier, Zimmerman, 2 down after 11 against Bryan Koslosky, a Coast Guard petty officer playing out of the Naval Academy, won three holes coming in, the last at No. 16, and prevailed, 1 up.
Today's meeting will be the first between former champions since 1962, when Ralph Bogart, the all-time record-holder with 10 titles, defeated Bobby Brownell, 4 and 3, at Woodholme CC.
"I came in playing very well and confident about my game," Lombardi said. "I'm doing a lot of the little things right."
One of the things is his course management, and he was aggressive but intelligent in attacking the well-groomed 6,750-yard layout and its firm greens that were only receptive to well-struck shots.
An expected duel with Tallent never really materialized because Tallent's putter betrayed him. He missed several putts inside of 3 feet, and Lombardi was able to stay in control.
No more than two holes separated the experienced Rasley, 47, from the relatively inexperienced Zimmerman, 21, all afternoon.
Each time Rasley got the gap to two, he seemed to leave an opening on the next hole and his opponent would take advantage of it.
After Rasley went 2 up with a par at the 15th, Zimmerman won the 16th with a par, the 17th with a bogey, and they halved the 18th when Rasley left a winning 20-foot putt hanging over the edge of the hole. Zimmerman's winning bid from 10 feet curled behind the cup.
Each was on the green of the first playoff hole, with Zimmerman facing a tricky downhill eight-foot putt. After Rasley made his, Zimmerman's bid to prolong the match slipped away as his ball slid by the left edge of the hole.
NOTES: Evidence of Rasley's struggles: He bogeyed four of the last five holes in Thursday qualifying and finished at 77, one shot from the 18-for-two playoff. Friday afternoon, he had to go 19 holes to get past Chris York of Bethesda CC. His two overtime wins were the only ones of the second, third, and fourth rounds. . . . No matter who wins today, it will end a string of 11 different winners, dating to a third successive win by Marty West III in
Joe Wood, Norbeck, d. Stu Strang, Argyle, 2 and 1; Kirk Lombardi, Norbeck, d. Pat Tallent, Congressional, 2 and 1; Alan Zimmerman, Holly Hills, d. Bryan Koslosky, Naval Academy, 1 up; Dave Rasley, Lakewood, d. Mike Watson, Lakewood, 2 and 1.
Lombardi d. Wood, 4 and 3; Rasley d. Zimmerman, 19 holes.