In this season of home-ice and home-court advantage being talked about all the time, home-course advantage could be important when the 23rd P-J Champions golf tournament is held at Blueberry Hill Golf Club on May 20.
The defending champion is Sam Marek from Blueberry Hill, who will attempt to become the second player to win The P-J Champions title on his home course. He will also be attempting to become the event's fifth repeat champion.
The tournament is for men's club champions from regulation 18- and nine-hole courses in The Post-Journal circulation area.
This foursome from Blueberry Hill Golf Club were recently checking out the greens at the Russell, Pa., layout as it prepares to play host to The P-J Champions golf tournament for the second time on May 20. From left are Blueberry Hill pro Gary McCullough, general manager Jim Roth, club champion Dave Anderson and 2011 club champion Sam Marek, who is the defending champion of The P-J Champions. McCullough played in the event in 1992 and 1999.
P-J photo by Jim Riggs
Marek claimed his title last year at Cable Hollow Golf Club when he shot a 2-over-par 74. He edged out six players who tied for second with 75s, including back-to-back champion Mike Bancroft of Conewango Valley Country Club, who was trying to become the first to record a ''three-peat.''
The other five golfers with 75s were Jordan Marsh of Cassadaga CC, Scott Berry of Maplehurst CC, Kevin Kaszuba of Shorewood CC, Dan Smith of Elkdale CC and Shelly Grant of Chautauqua Golf Club.
Marsh, Kaszuba and Smith will be playing again this year.
Marek did not win the club championship at Blueberry Hill last year, so the host club will be well represented as its 2011 club champ, Dave Anderson, will also be in the 16-player field.
Also playing are Gary Arnold of Pinehurst Golf Club, Troy Beightol of Breezewood Links, John Ditcher of Cardinal Hills Golf Course, Greg Gollnitz of Chautauqua Point Golf Course, Tim Hall of Bemus Point Golf Club, Josh Harrington of Chautauqua Golf Club, Ryan Lemon of Cable Hollow, Joe Nelson of Conewango Valley Country Club, Rob Ritchie of Jackson Valley Golf Club, Eric Trusso of South Hills Country Club and Jake Yartz of Maplehurst Country Club.
Arnold, Gollnitz, Hall, Harrington, Lemon, Nelson, Trusso and Yartz are playing in The P-J Champions for the first time.
This is the second time the event has been held at the Russell, Pa., layout. The first time was 1997 when defending champion Dick Cole won with a 4-over-par 76.
With that victory, Cole became the second repeat winner of The P-J Champions. Cole went on to become the event's only two-time repeat winner when he won in 2002 and 2003. The late Roger Loop won in 1990 and 1991 and Shelly Grant won in 1992 and 1993.
Blueberry Hill will be providing the greens fees and light meal after nine holes for the contestants. They will receive a sleeve of golf balls from The Post-Journal, which will also award silver bowls to the winner and runner-up.
If there is a tie after 18 holes, a playoff will begin at No. 1.
Josh Harrington, Ryan Lemon, Jordan Marsh, Jake Yartz
Gary Arnold, Tim Hall, Joe Nelson, Eric Trusso
Troy Beightol, John Ditcher, Greg Gollnitz, Rob Ritchie
Dave Anderson, Kevin Kaszuba, Sam Marek, Dan Smith