CLARKS GREEN — When he was young, Anthony Sebastianelli didn’t care much for the game of golf.
To get him interested, his father, Gary, would let him drive the golf cart with some assistance.
On Sunday, Anthony didn’t need much help from his father.
The 23-year-old birdied four of the first five holes and the Sebastianellis captured their first Irving Jackman Memorial Member-Guest title with a 4 and 3 win over defending champs Brian Mahlstedt Sr. and Jr. at Glen Oak Country Club.
“He’s such a great player,” Mahlstedt Sr. said. “What do you expect? We knew we worked as hard as we could to get here. We knew we had to really play outstanding just to have a chance. He could birdie every hole if he wanted to. He’s just that outstanding.”
He missed a downhill 8-footer on No. 2 or he would have birdied all of the first five.
“I am so proud of the way he played,” Gary Sebastianelli said. “This means everything. We’ve spent so many nights talking about it, father and son, and playing golf together. We’ve come close, but this win means everything because this is probably the last hurrah here.
“He’s such a great competitor. We’ve played a lot of golf together and I’ve never seen him play this well before. Perfect. It’s what we wanted headed into the Monterey Peninsula for the (U.S.) Amateur.”
Anthony Sebastianelli will leave Thursday for Pebble Beach Golf Links, site of the amateur, and he leaves a wake of success that has seen him win two member-guest tournaments in the last three weeks, and finish runner-up in the Pennsylvania Amateur.
So when he stuffed a wedge to 4 feet on the par-5 first hole, it was an omen of what was coming.
“I was just feeling it,” Anthony said. “I was hitting my numbers, hitting my spots and the putts were falling.
“I was striking it really well. I came up short in the state amateur because the putts weren’t falling. Today, they just started falling and it’s a good momentum wave to the U.S. Amateur.”
It was also pretty good considering he put new irons and wedges in his bag on Friday.
“I’m still trying to get used to them, trying to break them in, messing with some lead tape and getting the swing weights where I wanted them,” Anthony said. “Today, I felt confident hitting all different types of shots to greens.”
After his father secured par to win No. 2, Anthony Sebastianelli rolled in an 8-footer to win No. 3, then put his tee ball on the uphill 182-yard fourth to 9 feet and made that for a 4-up lead.
Mahlstedt Jr. hit a terrific low punch from 100 yards to 3 feet on No. 5, and made the birdie as he putted first with his father’s ball farthest from the hole and controlling play.
Even that didn’t slow the champs, as Anthony Sebastianelli answered with a 10-footer in the center of the cup.
“To be honest, the hole didn’t seem any smaller,” Anthony Sebastianelli said. “I knew what was going to happen. We’ve played so much golf with the Mahlstedts. I knew when Mr. Mahlstedt was outside of everybody and Brian was nice and tight, he was going to make him putt first. But the moment I stepped up, I saw the read and the spot where I knew I had to hit it.
“I was in such a zone at that point, nothing was phasing me.”
On the par-5 seventh, Anthony Sebastianelli hit one of his few bad shots of the day, pulling his iron shot long and left and leaving a downhill lie from deep rough to a pin cut in the front at the bottom of a swale.
“I had the same exact chip this morning,” Mahlstedt Jr. said. “He did it a little better than I did.”
He feathered the shot just onto the green and it trickled to the top of a knoll and
then over, settling 3 feet
from the cup.
He made that for one of six birdies by the team on the front nine, and a 5-up cushion.
“He’s playing great right now,” Mahlstedt Jr. said. “I hope he continues it going forward for the U.S. Amateur next week. It’s pretty impressive to watch. It’s fun to watch, too.”
Mahlstedt Jr. birdied No. 8 to trim the lead, ripping a shot from under a tree in the left rough to 3 feet. And then the dads got into the act on No. 9, but not before the sons had hit their tee shots inside 5 feet, with Anthony Sebastianelli’s ball mark an inch past and right of the hole.
But Gary Sebastianelli rolled in a 55-footer for birdie, and Mahlstedt Sr. topped it to halve the hole from 20 feet.
“I did that this morning, too,” Gary Sebastianelli said. “He had a short birdie putt and I made a 25-footer.”
The Mahlstedts got back to 3-down on No. 12 when Gary Sebastianelli found an impossible lie on the edge of the greenside bunker and Anthony Sebastianelli accidentally dropped his club onto his ball in the fairway, incurring a shot penalty.
“Him calling the penalty on himself, he’s got a lot of integrity,” Mahlstedt Sr. said. “He knows how to play the game.”
It didn’t matter, and Mahlstedt Sr. called the final dagger before Sebastianelli putted for birdie on No. 14, signaling it was going in the hole before Sebastianelli stepped over a 12-footer for birdie.
“As we got to high school, traveling with him, going to tournaments all over the country, all the nights in hotels together, this is the one tournament we really wanted to win,” Anthony Sebastianelli said. “We won the member-member together and that was special, but this blows it out of the water.”
The Sebastianellis got to the final after a 4 and 3 win over Dave Maddock and Kyle Williams in the semifinals. The Mahlstedts edged Sean Timms and Eamon Evans in their semifinal, 2-up.
Mark and Stephen Arcure won the shootout, outlasting Dan Munley and Scott Asay.
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