HANOVER TWP. — As a past tournament champion, Art Brunn has been here before, shooting into title contention at the McCarthy Classic.
His opponents in the finals will look very familiar, too.
Working with partner Michael Lynch for the first time in the McCarthy Classic, Brunn advanced to the championship round of the Wyoming Valley Country Club’s most prestigious amateur tournament for the second time in three years when his team edged Jeff Lewis and Mike Zapatoski, 1-up Saturday on the final hole of match play.
“This afternoon, it was a dogfight,” Brunn said.
He can plan on another Sunday in the 2:30 p.m. McCarthy championship.
Brunn and Lynch will face Drew Mamary and Eric Plisko, who won 2-up over Mike Blazick and John Mikiewicz in the semifinals, for the tourney title.
If those names sound familiar to Brunn, they should.
Brunn and then-partner Rick Berry defeated Mamary and Plisko for the 2016 McCarthy championship.
“There’s no advantage in the finals,” Brunn said.
Mamary and Plisko found just enough edge to get past Rich Serafin and Mark Jones in Saturday’s morning quarterfinals, going past regulation play to win on the 19th hole in a format where the winner is determined by the number of holes won on both sides rather than by individual scores.
Then they came back to clinch their semifinal round in 17 holes.
The McCarthy format skipped qualifying and went to seedings this year, starting the tournament with first-round play Friday, the quarterfinal and semifinal rounds Saturday and the title matchup set for Sunday — as opposed to past years when first round and quarterfinals were played on Saturday and the semifinals and finals were held Sunday.
“We kind of like this more,” Brunn said. “Usually it’s not good golf in the finals because you’re so tired. But this is going to be something.”
Mamary and Plisko, the two-time defending Wyoming Valley Country Club season champion, will be making their second trip to the McCarthy finals while looking for their first championship after playing in the tourney together for 12 years.
“It’s not as exciting for me. I’ve got a horse like this,” Mamary said of Plisko. “I’ve been with him a long time. I trust him. He’s not the two-time defending club champ for nothing. He’s going to be there.”
Plisko was also there for the U.S. Mid-Amateur Qualifying in Atlanta last September, after winning a five-man playoff for the final spot at Carlisle Country Club.
He didn’t make the cut for the match play championship field, but did make the most of his time there.
“You get to that level, it’s a different ballgame,” Plisko, from Sugar Notch, said, “playing against the best amateurs in the country. I didn’t make match play, I played too conservative. Playing in that, you gain experience. Especially when you get in pressure situations out here.”
Brunn is in a similar situation that brought him his first McCarthy crown two years ago.
Back then, coach of Holy Redeemer’s 2013 PIAA state championship team switched partners for the McCarthy and won the title for the first time.
This year, Brunn picked Lynch as his new McCarthy partner and could be headed for the same title-winning fate.
“I’ve probably played more with him than I did with Rick,” Brunn said, noting he and Lynch have won numerous tournaments outside the McCarthy. “We’ve been partners for almost 25 years.”
The pair slid past Dave Kachurak and Michael Kachurak 6-5 in the morning quarterfinals before surviving a tussle to the end from Lewis and Zaptoski in the semis that came down to the final hole.
“They didn’t make many mistakes,” Lynch said. “That was really the first hole they (Lewis and Zapotoski) put themselves in trouble off the tee and didn’t make up for it. We were 2-up and lost two of the last four holes. The momentum was on their side. I three-putted on 15. I thought about 15 on 18. But it was a much shorter putt.
“To be good at this game, you have to have a short memory.”
Mike Blazick/John Mikiewicz def. John Olszewski/A.J. Olszewski
Drew Mamary/Eric Plisko def. Rich Serafin/Mark Jones
Art Brunn/Michael Lynch def. Dave Kachurak/Michael Kachurak
Jeff Lewis/Mike Zapatoski def. Scott Henry/Eric Williams
Drew Mamary/Eric Plisko def. Mike Blazick/John Mikiewicz
Art Brunn/Michael Lynch def. Jeff Lewis/Mike Zapatoski
Drew Mamary/Eric Plisko vs. Art Brunn/Michael Lynch
Reach Paul Sokoloski at 570-991-6392 or on Twitter @TLPaulSokoloski