07/15/05 — Golfers battle "The Creek"

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Golfers battle "The Creek"

Published in Sports on July 15, 2005 1:54 PM

They fought "The Creek" -- and in most cases, "The Creek" won.

Out of the 168 golfers who took part in the inaugural Junior Golf Classic of Eastern North Carolina at the Walnut Creek Country Club on Thursday, only seven managed to shoot par or better.

Cory Sommer, a Parrott Academy graduate and University of South Carolina-Aiken signee, was the day's medalist with a 5-under 67.

Greenville's James Ellis shot a brilliant 33-33 for a 6-under 66. The 13-year-old, who will be attending Parrott this fall, had six birdies without a bogey. Since he played from shortened tees, however, he will not be eligible for the individual scoring crown.

When the Kinston Country Club closed at the end of June for fairway renovation, prospects for the continuation of the Roy Jones/BBT Classic were in doubt for this year.

Necessity, however, is often the mother of invention. Kinston Head Pro Scott Crocker met with his Walnut Creek peer, Jack Snyder, to review options. Arrangements were made to temporarily merge with the Goldsboro Builders/Clarence Rose Junior Golf Classic.

Enter the Carolina Golf Association from Pinehurst. Negotiations are now under way to make the homogenized Junior Golf Classic into one of the premier events in the state.

"Conceivably," said Roy Jones, founder of the tournament 20 years ago with ECU golf coach, Kevin Wills, "the size of the event could virtually double and expand from one to possible three courses."

Walnut Creek Course Superintendent Brad Eden had the course in top condition. "With the field containing so many young people, we wanted the course to be playable, but also a challenge."

He cut the rough to 11/2 inches. The "Stimpometer" for the greens was nine.

Crocker warned "to be ready for anything" scoring-wise. "The field is wide open. Don't be surprised to see someone in the 14-year-old bracket knock off one of the big dogs in the 16-18 bracket."

He wasn't kidding. The morning pairings braved severe heat and humidity. Besides Ellis, 12-year-old Reeves Zaytoun from Raleigh Ravenscroft turned in a 2-under-par 70 on four birdies.

Michael Cromie, from Cary St. Michaels, shot a 73. Joshua Cabrera, 13, part of an eight player contingent from the island of Bermuda, carded a 76.

Kinston's Reid Wooten, another member of the Parrott Academy roster, tied with Greensboro's Chandler Upchurch in the 10-11 category. Both boys shot 40.

Elm City's Mallory Warwick grabbed top honors in the girls 8-11 bracket with a 41. Only 11, she started playing at age 5, and works out with the Wilson Fike varsity.

Despite a brief thunderstorm, play only got hotter in the afternoon pairings. Sommer will get plenty of competition from Raleigh's Bryce Aronson, Spring Creek's Stephen Warren, and Charlotte's Corey Nagy (71), Salisbury's Will Collins (72), and Greene Central's Colby Murphy, Jack Bryson, Marshall Foyle, and Wayne Christian's Jonathan Greene (73).

Play of the day came from Southern Pines' Robert Hoadley, 14, in the 14-15 bracket. Hoadley, who had an "up-and-down" 73, eagled the first hole. His lob wedge third shot from 80 yards out, landed on the green, bounced, and went in the cup.

Local players gave an excellent accounting of themselves. Warren (38-34), started "shaky," but charged the back nine, making birdie on 10, 14, and 17. Greene (37-36), "couldn't putt," but still walked away with three birdies.

C.B. Aycock's Will Vinson recorded a 73 in the 14-15 bracket. Grantham's Kyle Best signed off on a 46 in the 8-9 group. Best, who is just starting to play, gets his motivation from watching Tiger Woods videos.

Aycock's Kelli Forbis' 76 was her lowest round ever at Walnut Creek. Previously, she had never broken 80. "This course intimidates me," she said.

"These guys can really play," said Snyder. "With the tees set back even further back today, things should get very interesting, scoring-wise."