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2018 Amateur Championship
Congratulations to
Connor Sheehan
69-74 = 143
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It isn’t easy to wrestle — forgive the pun — all the drama out of a golf tournament.

Connor Sheehan, star Millersville University golfer and grappler, pulled it off Saturday. Sheehan shot a rock-solid 74 at Pilgrim’s Oak Golf Course in Peach Bottom to nail down the Janney Montgomery Scott Lanco Amateur championship by four shots over runner-up Jarred Texter.

“I tried to stay relaxed. I might have been too relaxed,’’ Sheehan said. “I’ve been trying to win this one for a while.’’

Sheehan took control of the tournament with a 3-under 69 in Friday’s first round — four shots better than anyone else on either day.

“I set myself up pretty nicely for today,’’ he said.

But he also positioned himself to play from the lead, with all the psychology that brings. And on a golf course with severe, undulating green complexes that demand nervy short-game work no matter how good your ball-striking is.

And Sheehan started Saturday with a bogey.

“OK, no big deal,’’ he thought, bravely, and then birdied the second as if he meant it.

Sheehan played with Marc Oliveri, who shot one of two 73s Friday. Oliveri is a former University of Delaware golfer who hung doggedly around but never got closer than three back.

One swing moment came at the par-5 14th, where Oliveri rifled a superb second shot to within 15 feet. Sheehan was also pin-high in two, and only around 30 feet away, but faced a delicate, difficult chip off a severe downslope.

Oliveri’s eagle putt slid by, and Sheehan finessed the chip to kick-in range. There was similar stuff at the ninth, the 13th, the 15th … under pressure, it looked like Sheehan would rather chip than than do almost anything else.

His caddie and girlfriend — Taylor Parker, a Millersville field hockey all-American and the national defensive player of the year in 2016 — soon learned to pull the pin whenever Sheehan was greenside with a wedge.

“I’m pretty much trying to make those all the time,’’ Sheehan said.

Sheehan led Oliveri by an insurmountable six strokes after Oliveri double-bogeyed 16.

But it wasn’t quite over. Two groups ahead, Texter, a three-time Lanco champion and perennial contender, birdied 17 to pull within four, with enough length to go at the par-5 18th in two.

And Sheehan scored a bogey on 17 when he nuked a 5-iron from about 175 yards into the wind over the green.

Top of Form

Bottom of FormTexter didn’t know that, but he was thinking, “If I make eagle … I figured he was probably 2-3 under (for the tournament). If I get to 1-under, you never know.’’

Set up for drama, 18 turned out all wet. Texter hit his drive and second shot into the drink en route to a double-bogey seven.

Sheehan also hit his second shot into the creek just short of the green and finished the round bogey, bogey.

If Texter had eagled 18, things might have turned out differently.

Oliveri finished third alone at 73-75-148. Corey Wenger was fourth alone at 74-75-149. Two-time Lanco champ Dave Richards (78-73) and three-time Lanco player of the year Chris Fieger Sr. (76-75) shared fifth at 151.

Sheehan gets a watch, his name etched on the King Knox trophy, and another mountain to climb in a couple of weeks, when the Lanco Better-Ball is played July 7-8 at Crossgates.

He and partner Derek McCarty feel they could have — make that should have — won that one in 2016 and 2017.

“Now we’ve got to get that one,’’ Sheehan said.