MASON, Ohio - An old bromide has it that the best club in a golfer's bag is often the eraser on the top of his pencil. That turned out to be the case yesterday when a two-shot penalty was erased late in the third round of the Ohio Amateur Championship.
Erik Herberth retained the lead and owns a three-shot edge heading into today's final round at Heritage Club, but Robert Gerwin is tied for second only by the graces of the United States Golf Association.
On the 17th hole, Gerwin pulled his drive and the ball came to rest under a split-rail fence. An on-course Ohio Golf Association rules official did not dissuade Gerwin from applying an incorrect ruling that since the bottom rail of the fence could be removed without unnecessary effort that it was not an immovable object.
After further consultation with other officials, Gerwin played his ball without the rail in place, then played a second ball after replacing the rail. He scored a bogey with each ball.
Fact is, fences are clearly stated as immovable objects, regardless of the ease involved in dismantling them, in published decisions on the rules of golf. As a result, after completing his round, Gerwin was informed that he would be assessed a two-shot penalty.
After a lengthy discussion, a phone call was made to the USGA and it was determined that since the first on-course rules official had played some role in Gerwin's actions that the Cincinnati golfer should be absolved of the penalty.
“I'm very glad to have that round over,” Gerwin said. “I had a triple-bogey on No. 3, worked like heck to get it all back, then went through that on No. 17. It was a very difficult day.”
Still, when all was said and done, Gerwin, who set a course record with an 8-under 64 in the first round, was able to sign for an even-par 72 that left him at 5-under 211. He is tied for second with Neil Lykins, also of Cincinnati, who carded a 70.
Both are three shots in arrears of Herberth, from Avon Lake, who shot 71 for a 208 total.
Only eight golfers are under par after three rounds and among them is Toledoan B.J. Pitzen, who had a 71 yesterday for a 1-under 215 total.
“I got off to a bad start, but stayed with it,” said Pitzen, who recovered at the turn with birdies at Nos. 9 and 11. “I'm within seven shots and anything can happen. I really haven't gone low yet so we'll see what happens. I have to hope my putter gets hot and I don't make any mistakes.”
Pitzen's teammate at Florida Southern University, Zach Doran of Dublin, shot a 31 on the front side yesterday before fading to a 69, good for a tie at 3-under 213.
“If somebody had said before I started that I'd shoot 69, I'd have taken that,” Doran said. “But with a 31 on the front, a 69 isn't so good. I guess there are good and bad ways to shoot a number, even if it all adds up the same.”
Toledoans Kevin Kornowa and Mark Bixler survived the 54-hole cut to low 40 scores and ties. Bixler was right on the cut number at 227 after a round of 76. Kornowa had a 78 for a 222 total.
FREMONT - David Ford of Oak Harbor defeated Mike Mefferd of Perrysburg on the first playoff hole to win the Toledo District Golf Association Junior Match Play championship yesterday at Fremont Country Club.
Ford was 3-up going into the 32nd hole of the 36-hole championship match. But Mefferd won three of the final five holes to tie the match.
On the 37th hole, Ford parred and Mefferd bogeyed.