By Ed Farrell
Herald Assistant Sports Editor
GREENVILLE — With the score stalemated and 2 outs in the home half of the 9th, Mike Cusick decided to go for the win. So what else could he do, but grip it and rip it?
On his 4th and final swing Monday afternoon, Cusick connected for a 322-yard drive to win the Keystone Shootout at The Greens of Greenville.
Cusick’s conquest, followed by a longball-hitting exhibition by pros Tom Roskos, Carl Wolter and Aaron Mansfield, highlighted the 63rd annual Business & Industry event.
From a 16-competitor field, Cusick qualified for the finals, along with Greenville’s Ethan Leary and Sinjin Larson. The lanky Leary had won the event twice, though not consecutively.
Warren County’s Larson launched a 281-yard drive in the preliminaries, while defending champion Leary was unable to keep his 4 shots inside the grid.
Similarly, Cusick could not find his stroke ... until his final swing, with some prompting by emceé Roskos.
“There was a little bit of pressure there, not having anything in play. But I just tried to keep focused and hit that little ‘cut’ that I like, and concentrated a little more at the end,” explained Cusick, who admitted, “It felt great.
“I knew it was good when I hit it. I thought it was a little bit out (of the grid) on the left, but I must’ve got a good bounce. A lot of time that’s all it takes, is a little bit of a hop,” Cusick confided.
Commodore Perry High product Cusick competed all four years the event has taken place, and recalled his career-best drive occurred in the event’s inaugural year — a 356-yard belt.
Admittedly, Cusick considered quizzing Roskos, Wolter, Mansfield, et all, for tips on driving, but realized, “ ... those long-drive guys, they seem to have an extra gear, so to say, and I’m not sure if I really have that. But, maybe. I’ve definitely considered (working with) Tom.”
Roskos, the Sharpsville native, has found a home at The Greens of Greenville, and brainstormed the concept for the follow-up exhibition of trick shots he, 2-time Remax World Long Drive titlist Wolter, and 2011 Keystone Shootout winner Mansfield mustered.
Mansfield manuevered on a unicycle and also hit shots with a driver the size of a candy cane; Penn State University product Wolter walloped 2 balls simultaneously using a driver with an oversized club head, and Roskos remained upright and hit drives while balancing on a core-centering exercise ball. He also hit impressive shots while kneeling — all despite a debilitating shoulder injury.
“I’ve had an opportunity to kind’ve travel around the world to do some of these things, and thought it’d be nice to give the folks who support the outing here a little bit of a show and have a little bit of fun,” Roskos related.
“We had a long-drive tournament for the last few years, but I thought it’d be fun to bring in these guys,” Roskos continued. “The good thing about Carl and Aaron is they are good personal friends. Carl’s close, about four hours away in the Poconos and Aaron’s an hour-and-a-half in Pittsburgh. So the logistics also made a lot of sense.
“But these guys are really good guys, they’re good showmen, and they’re great ambassadors for the sport. They’re really good people to bring into Greenville to support the event,” Roskos praised.
Cusick also came in for some kudos.
“He really hits it hard,” an admiring Roskos said regarding Cusick, also a B&I Day committee member. “He’s had a difficult time in the last couple years in hitting the grid in the finals. He’s gotten beat a couple times. He hit it far enough; but just not (within the grid). So it’s nice to see him be able to get a win and be able to perform under the gun. He’s a really good golfer, aside from hitting it a long way. But he does hit it a long way.”
After graduating from Commodore Perry Cusick matriculated at the University of Kentucky. Though he was introduced to the game of golf at age 12 by his father, Tom, Cusick did not compete for Kentucky.
“I played a lot, spent a lot of time working on my game, but was not quite good enough to qualify for the team as a walk-on,” Cusick confided.
On Monday, though, Cusick came up with the big blast at the most opportune time.