|Thursday, September 26, 2019 - |
HOMEWOOD, Ill. – Brien Gerber (Naperville / Springbrook GC) and Brad Kay (Arlington Heights / Ivanhoe Club) first met each other in middle school. Over the last 40-plus years, the tandem has enjoyed a great friendship, one that includes playing golf as frequently as their schedules allow. The 56-year-olds have learned a lot about each other over the course of those rounds, and with that, know tendencies that the other is prone to display.
“We know each other, we know when we need to get picked up and when we can let the person just stew,” said Gerber. “So, it’s a good relationship for sure.”
That insider knowledge helped spur the duo to a Championship trophy Thursday, as the pair defeated Vance Antoniou (North Barrington / Butler National GC) and Mark Esposito (Schaumburg / Blackberry Oaks GC), 3 and 2, in the 4th CDGA Senior Amateur Four-Ball Championship at Calumet Country Club.
In their first appearance in the event, following a withdrawal prior to last year’s edition at Indian Hill Club, Gerber and Kay had maintained a strategy of uplifting each other all week. In the Championship match, versus an Antoniou-Esposito team who had reached the Quarterfinals in two of their three CDGA Senior Amateur Four-Ball appearances, the mindset was to continue to keep each other level-headed.
“We talked about how, all week, we’ve just ‘ham-and-egged’ and today was just another one of those events where, if I was struggling on a hole, Brien carried it, and vice versa,” said Kay. “We just continued to do that all through today.”
Following an uneventful first four holes to the final match, Antoniou and Esposito seized a 1-up lead following a Gerber and Kay bogey on the par-3 5th. Three holes later, Kay stuck his tee shot on the par-3 8th to 15 feet and buried the putt to tie the match. On the ensuing 9th hole, it was Gerber’s turn to impact the title tilt, as he flighted his approach from an uneven lie on the 488-yard par 5 to 3 feet and knocked in the eagle putt to grab the momentum back.
“2 - 3 is a great way to finish a nine,” said Kay. “I’ve watched Brien make three eagles in the last week, so it’s been nice being a spectator, watching that. You win two holes in a row at the turn, that’s a big, huge deal.”
“Great putt he made on 8 and got a good bounce on 9 to get it close there, so it was good to take advantage of that,” added Gerber.
A par on the par-3 11th hole upped the advantage to two, and another on the par-3 14th pushed it to three. Esposito, however, got one back with a 12-foot birdie on the par-5 15th to provide a glimmer of hope to his side. The comeback fell short on the 16th, though, after Antoniou and Esposito found the green in four and three, respectively. Antoniou was unable to get up and down from a greenside bunker, and an Esposito three-putt meant bogey for the side and a victory for Gerber and Kay.
Asked following their victory about the keys to their success, Kay stated that the pair were able to “hit a lot of good putts,” something they had done in previous rounds, but hadn’t seen positive results from. He also praised Gerber’s length off the tee, as it provided an advantage against other senior amateurs.
As evidence of their years of solid rapport, Gerber was not to be outdone by his partner’s compliments and revisited the foundation of their golfing chemistry and how it translated to the pair taking home the championship hardware.
“I wouldn’t pick another partner for any other event,” said Gerber. “My partner is a grinder. Every time I was down and out, he was able to keep plugging away and keep us in a lot of holes where I was not feeling 100%. Just never giving up really, and having the confidence that we could win the match was key.”
The event marks the conclusion of the 2019 championship season. In all, the CDGA administered 10 championships, including three Illinois State events.