By NICK BEDWAY
For The Intelligencer
WHEELING - Bart Mease thought he left some opportunities for birdies on the course during the opening round of the 13th annual Stoney Hollow Tire Amateur Golf Championship, but he more than made up for them coming down the stretch Sunday afternoon.
The 35-year-old former Robert Morris College golfer fired three birdies on the back nine at the challenging Oglebay Resort's Robert Trent Jones Course to capture Championship Flight medal honors.
After posting a 1-under-par 70 on Saturday while playing the more favorable Arnold Palmer course, Mease rallied from three strokes behind with a two-under 69 and a two-day total of 139.
It was good enough for a two-shot victory against Rob Cimarolli of Pittsburgh and two-time Wheeling Park state medal champion Thadd Obecny II. Cimarolli and Obecny had identical scorecards of 68 and 73 for two-day totals of one-under 141 for the tournament.
Joey Seabright, a West Liberty University golfer, wound up fourth at 142 while first-day leader John Kingora shot a 76 after an opening 67 to wind up at 143. Kingora ended in a tie for fifth with Brooke Garrison and Larry Lis Jr.
Mease, a Gaithersburg, Md., resident who played on the Moonlight and Hooters mini-tours in Florida for a couple of years before joining the corporate work field as a technology company salesman, has been a frequent participant in the Stoney Hollow Classic.
''I drive four hours every year to play in this tournament and spend some time with my college roommate Jason Lis," Mease said. ''The people here do an amazing job of organizing and running it. This is a thrill for me to be able to play this well and win. I'll definitely be back next year.''
He was pleased with his overall game during the 36-hole event, explaining that the key to turning in a good score on the Jones course is to hit the driver straight and be a good putter.
''Both courses (Palmer and Jones) are in great shape,'' Mease said. ''The greens are fast and they have tons of slope. If you can putt, you can set yourself apart from the rest of the field. Fortunately, the last two days, I got the putter going."
Mease began his round with a birdie on the 450-yard first hole but it would prove to be the only time he bested par during his front nine.
''I had a few bumps in the road playing the front when I made a couple of bogeys in a row (Holes 7 and 8) that were really stupid. You can't bogey a Par 5 but that's what I did,'' he said about taking a 6 on the eighth green.
However, he didn't bogey another hole the rest of the day, getting back-to-back birdies on Holes 12 and 13 and carding a deuce on the Par 3 15th green.
''On 12, I made a big right-to-left putt from about 20 feet and at 13, I was fortunate enough to make one from 12 feet," Mease added.
While Mease led the medal firing, championship flight best ball honors went to a sudden-death playoff with Rob and Mark Cimarolli getting a birdie on the first extra hole to edge out Obecny and partner Greig Tredenick. Both teams posted 36-hole scores of 132.
Dave Johnson, the 18-hole leader in the First Flight after a sparkling round of 4-under 67, held on to win his division. Johnson's 77 on Sunday gave him a two-day score of 144. That proved five shots better than the 149 total recorded by Tim Bishop and Brad Crawford. Bishop picked up the runner-up trophy with a par on the first extra hole.
Johnson also held on for the best ball championship, teaming with John Kurtz for a 138 total, two shots better than the 140 turned by Chris and Gary Yahn.
Veteran Wheeling golfer Bob Clark won both the medal crown and teamed with partner Mike Wilson to capture best ball laurels in the Seniors Flight.
The 58-year-old Clark had an excellent two-day medal score of 3-under 139 while he and Wilson combined for rounds of 66 and 65 for a 131 total. Two shots back were Bo Sparks and Gary Brewer (66-67-131).
It was Clark's third senior medal title in the Stoney Hollow Tire event, but he was more delighted about the best ball crown.
''I've won medal before but I really wanted to win the best-ball with Mike,'' he said. ''He really picked me up (Sunday) with an eagle on No. 2 and a birdie at 5."
In the Super Seniors, Gary Schrickel led the way with rounds of 74 and 71 for a 145, two shots better than the 147 by Mike Potts. Lynn Martin and Mark Nagy won best-ball honors with rounds of 70 and 68 for a 138. Second at 140 were Potts and Johnny Wilson.