FRANKLIN TWP — Par 5 holes? No problem.
Mike Marron, 37, of Parker birdied the 499-yard No. 15 hole and 531-yard No. 16 Sunday morning at Lake Arthur Golf Club. Those shots paved the way for a 2-under-par 70 and victory in the 20th annual Butler Eagle County Amateur.
And he needed those shots.
“I was able to get up and down on those consecutive long holes. That probably made the difference for me today,” Marron said.
Marron started his round on the par-3 No. 13 hole. He shot par on 13 and 14 before getting the two birdies. He also birdied Nos. 1, 4 and 7.
Marron wound up with a two-stroke victory over surprising Jenna Rinker of Slippery Rock and Nathan Bilski. Bilski won the 2006 Eagle Amateur at Lake Arthur.
Bilski had six birdies on the day and shot the lowest round among the afternoon players.
“I play this course all of the time,” Bilski said. “I’m comfortable with my shots here.”
By contrast, Rinker, 23, had never played 18 holes at Lake Arthur and isn’t sure she’s ever played the course at all.
“Nine holes in high school, maybe ... But I don’t remember it,” Rinker said. “I wish I had done a practice round before this.
“Not knowing the course, I made the wrong club selection off the tee a few times.”
Rinker won the first flight by four strokes over Dan Kos and the women’s division by six strokes over Marissa DeCola. She might have finished first overall if not for a double bogey on the par-3 No. 9 hole.
“I totally blew up there,” Rinker admitted. “I chunked my tee shot, then chipped one over the green. It took a couple of miraculous shots after that just to get what I did.
“I haven’t played much golf this summer. I’m a sales rep and the spare time just isn’t there. I practiced for a while to get ready for this, though.”
Bilski had double bogeys on Nos. 6 and 3 to miss out on the chance to become a second-time Eagle Amateur champion.
He said the par-5 No. 6 hole is the one he’d like to have back.
“I tried hitting my tee shot over the trees to bite off some distance, but I caught the top of a shrub nearby and my drive didn’t go very far at all,” Bilski said. “It was an uphill fight from there.”
Ultimately, the day belonged to Marron. He had never won the tournament before, having finished second once. His brother, Chris, was Eagle Amateur champion in 2003.
“The greens were really fast and the course was set up tough today,” Marron said. “Pin placements were tricky enough that if you didn’t keep your shots on track, it was awfully hard to make par.
“The practice green seemed fairly normal, but my first putt on my first hole rolled about eight or 10 feet past it. The greens were fast. That adjustment had to be made real quick.”
Marron is a member at St. Jude and Foxburg Country Club.
His uncle, Jerry Marron, 63, of Foxburg tied for first place with Greg Chiappini in the seniors (age 50-over) division. Both shot a 73.
“That’s the best I’ve shot in this event in about 30 years,” Jerry Marron said. “I was pretty happy with it, but I played in the same group as Mike today, so I was playing under the radar.
“He played a great round, making some tough shots.”
Pat Seybert and Brandon Johnston tied for the second flight crown with an 81, but Johnston could not make it back to the course for a playoff. Cory Birckbichler won the third flight with an 80, five strokes better than Ron Vodenichar.
There were 164 golfers registered for the one-day tournament.