Since their introduction in 1999, Invitational Shootout qualifiers have produced some of the most memorable moments in Tournament history. The stunning 2004 qualifying match between Johnson/Szeszycki versus Sindelar/Gentry that ended in the “lost ball” controversy and the sudden death battle in 2013 between Smith/Wesinski and Davis/Lombard immediately come to mind.
Unfortunately, the recent match between newcomers Matt Grant and Tom Jemilo versus Greg DiBona and Tom Lang probably won’t earn a place in Shootout lore. Despite a great deal of public anticipation, veterans DiBona/Lang easily defeated the team of Grant/Jemilo at beautiful Palos Municipal Golf Course in Palos Hills.
After falling behind on the first hole, DiBona/Lang found their groove and cruised to victory behind DiBona’s clutch shotmaking. “Greg really hit some terrific shots today” said partner Tom Lang. “His chip in on the 3rd hole was huge for our confidence. I also think it took some of the wind out Matt and Tom’s sails. They really weren’t the same team after that shot.”
Outside of the first hole, the highlights for Grant/Jemilo were few and far between. Both players struggled adjusting to the fast pace of the competition and challenging course conditions.
“I think Matt and Tommy may have been a little outside their comfort zone today” said two-time Invitational Shootout Champion Ray Shinkle, who served as caddy for Matt Grant. “They were definitely amped up at the opportunity to qualify for The Shootout and to beat a proven powerhouse team like DiBona/Lang on a prestigious track like Palos Municipal. But it seemed like the moment just overwhelmed them a bit.”
“When we started the Shootout Qualifiers, our goal was to give players of all skills levels the opportunity to qualify for the greatest two-person scramble event in the Midwest” said 2004 Invitational Shootout Champion Joe Hill. “We also found that these qualifiers were a great way to expose the younger players to the pressure of The Shootout on a slightly smaller stage. We’ve seen quite a few really good teams struggle in their first attempt to qualify and go on to have great careers in The Shootout. I’m still confident Matt and Tom have a chance to become consistent Shootout performers, but it’s definitely a process.”