By Paul Sokoloski
EXETER — They’ll have to wait a little longer.
Mark Answini and partner Greg Mascioli finished regulation play of the John Allan Tournament tied for the top spot with the team of Pat Mitchell and Joe Carroll at 198, then both pairs parred their two playoff holes before darkness set in and stopped play.
That forced the two teams into a future 18-hole playoff for the title – as directed by Allan Tournament rules when the championship isn’t determined on the final day of the three-day event – with July 9 as a possibility.
“We’re trying to coordinate our schedules,” Carroll said, noting some players in the foursome have vacation and work plans over the next few weeks.
Answini nearly made sure it wouldn’t matter.
With his team holding a one-stroke lead on the final hole of regulation, Answini reached the 18th green with an outside shot of recording a birdie and a pretty good chance to make par. Either scenario would have sunk the title hopes of Mitchell and Carroll in the nine-hole championship round, which was played on the back nine.
But Answini rifled his attempt at birdie beyond the hole, then put up a soft putt that rolled around the hole before coming to rest on the very edge of the cup.
“I had a tough first putt on 18, just hit it a little too hard,” Answini said, before groaning that his final attempt at securing victory turned into “a lip-out. Got a little spin-o-rama at the end. It happens.”
That happened to give Mitchell and Carroll hope.
They entered the championship round a stroke down, but made up great ground by dropping three birdies.
“We hung tough, three birdies and six pars,” Carroll said. “And it turned out it was good enough to get us into a playoff.”
But Answini didn’t fold, nor did his partner Mascioli.
They went toe-to-toe with their title competitors, with neither team able to out-gun the other over two holes in the sudden-death playoff.
“We made par on both, so did they,” Carroll said. “Hats off to them. They played fantastic.”
It was a remarkably quick recovery for Answini, who didn’t let a missed opportunity turn into heartbreak at the end of Sunday.
“You have to let it go,” Answini said. “Me and my partner Greg played awesome. I think my partner picked me up a little bit this weekend. That’s what it is, best-ball partners. You need two guys.”
Now, they need a little more time to decide it.
After a rain-filled weekend – skies spit on the greens again Sunday after competition was cut short by downpours on Saturday – the two-hole playoff last through dusk. With sunlight disappearing quickly, tournament officials gave the teams a choice to play on or play 18 holes in the future – and it didn’t take long for all four men to agree on the latter option.
“It was too dark,” Carroll said. “Coming down the last playoff hole, it was getting really difficult to see the ball, to see the hole. You don’t want a tournament like the Allan to be decided because of a technicality. It was the only decision we could have made.”
And that’ll make both teams try to regroup in their attempt to take the Allan title.
“I felt like we had the momentum going into the playoff,” Carroll said. “Now that we have to take a break, I feel like any momentum we had is now gone.”
Paul Sokoloski may be reached at 570-970-7109 or on Twitter @TLPaulSokoloski