03/30/04 — Golf -- A good walk -- blown away

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Golf -- A good walk -- blown away

By Rudy Coggins
Published in Sports on March 30, 2004 1:57 PM

PIKEVILLE -- Mark Twain once said that "golf is a good walk spoiled."

The golfers competing in Monday's Class 3-A Eastern Carolina Conference meet wouldn't have disagreed with the 19th-century novelist. A mere four players completed their respective 18-hole round in the 70s as breezy conditions and a challenging layout led to high scores at Lane Tree Golf Club.

Robert Garris

News-Argus/Kaye Nesbit

Eastern Wayne's Robert Garris at Lane Tree Golf Course.

Washington's Marshall Fowle and Kinston's Joseph Hale shared medalist honors with a 4-over par 76 on the 6,433-yard course.

West Carteret recorded a four-player total of 318 and finished 13 strokes lower than host Charles B. Aycock. The Patriots trailed by six strokes in the overall team chase, but exited with an eight-stroke advantage (1,276-1,284) heading into next Monday afternoon's conference match at the Washington Yacht Club.

Players, their cheeks reddened by the cold wind, turned in scorecards with numerous bogeys and double bogeys. Very few birdies were recorded on the course, which can trick a golfer into hitting everything hard and nearly too long. The wind blowing across almost made the greens quicker and golfers had a difficult time getting the ball to bite, and slow down around the pin.

"It's (a) wide open (course) and a lot of people try to hit the ball hard here, and they get in trouble," Aycock coach Gary Hales said. "If you keep it down the middle, you're going to be safe."

Aycock didn't capitalize on playing on its home course.

Ryan Walderman emerged the Golden Falcons' top scorer with an 80. Will Vinson followed with an 82. Jonathan Burke, ranked No. 2 in the ECC in stroke average, shot a season-worst 84. Ryan Campbell contributed an 87.

Burke, who recorded two birdies on the back nine, lost six strokes in the ECC golfer of the year chase with West Carteret's Ryan Holler. Holler is the lone conference golfer to record four rounds in the 70s this season, including an uncharacteristic 78 on Monday.

"When we come to our home course and don't have anybody in the 70s, that hurts," Aycock coach Gary Hales said.

Adam Bouchard led Eastern Wayne, the defending ECC champion, to a third-place finish with an 84. Lance Ramsey and Robert Garris each turned in an 85, while Ryan Dunn fired an 86. The 340 total dropped the Warriors further behind Aycock and West Carteret in the team title chase, but left them in contention to capture a state playoff berth.

"Considering the conditions, the wind and cold, I thought they did fairly well in comparison to the others," Eastern Wayne coach Robert Peele said. "West Carteret shot pretty well, but everybody else was about the same as we were.

"I wish it had been a little better."

Peele agreed with Hale's assessment of how the course plays, and added that golfers sometimes have to guess on club selection.

"If you didn't hit it in the right place, you oftentimes paid the price for it," Peele said.

Southern Wayne finished sixth overall at 357. Owen Benton led the Saints with an 85, his second-lowest output of the season. Kenny Grady added an 89, while Dustin Garnale chipped in with a 90. Morgan Hill, last week's medalist at Falling Creek in Kinston, provided a 93.

Fowle's 76 helped Washington claim fourth at 345 and leap-frog over the Saints into fourth place in the overall team standings. Kinston took fifth at 350. ECC newcomer South Central ended seventh up behind Southern Wayne with a four-player total of 363, followed by West Craven with a 388.

"We play out here every day and the wind blows," Charles B. Aycock Gary Hales said. "We're used to playing in this. They should have stepped up today, but I think we had a little lapse in our mindset.

"Eight strokes is not out of reach. It's going to come down to our guys getting their heads on their shoulders and doing what they are supposed to do."