07/17/05 — Three playoffs highlight day 2 of Junior Golf Classic

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Three playoffs highlight day 2 of Junior Golf Classic

Published in Sports on July 17, 2005 2:07 AM

There were few signs of joy and elation coming off the ninth and 18th greens in the final round of the first annual Junior Golf Classic of Eastern North Carolina.

Long gone was the cocky, self-assuredness of those boasting of how low could one go in scoring. Players were humbled either by being microwaved by the intense heat and humidity, or from getting soundly spanked by an unforgiving Walnut Creek Country Club golf course.

Local players' scores reflected just what a difference a day makes.

Clark Rose went from 78 to an 82, while Mathew Davis dropped from an 80 to a 92. Kyle Ham finished two strokes lower than his opening-round 77. Will Vinson (73 first day) and Steve Warren (first-day 72) flattened out the second day with marks of 79 and 77, respectively.

How the mighty did fall.

Greenville's Corey Sommer went from an opening round 67 to a dismal 75. He was in the running for first place until his drive on No. 16 nestled next to a tree.

A left-handed swinger, he had to extricate himself by hitting from the right, only to have the ball stop next to another tree, resulting in a double bogey and a third-place finish in the 16-18 boys grouping.

Southern Pine's Robert Hoadley, who finished second with a 73-74 in the 14-15 bracket, put the tournament in perspective.

"People expected the same golf course today that they played Thursday," he said. "Tees were moved back at least 25 yards. Pin placements were extremely difficult, and the greens were very hard to read and get the correct speed."

Despite the 'love/hate' relationship with the course, play was extremely competitive. Final positions in three brackets were determined by playoffs.

Ashley Denton and Kristen Billings tied in the girls' 16-18 category division with a 148. Playing off on No. 1, Billings pulled her drive. Her second shot found a sand trap. A pitch and two putts left her with a bogey.

Denton split the fairway with her drive. A 7 wood from 170 yards out put her on the green 50 feet away from the flag. She lagged to five feet, canned the putt for a par and the win.

The most competitive flight was the boys 14-15 grouping. Two shots separated four players from first to third place. Patrick Barrett (73-75) defeated Adam Stephenson (77-71) in a playoff for third.

Hoadley came up one short to Lee Bedford (73-73).

"The pressure really hit me on the back nine," he said. "It was tough watching all of us go back and forth in the standings after each hole."

Equally exciting was the boys 16-18 flight, won in a three-hole playoff by Stephen Harrison over Corey Nagy. Both players completed their rounds at 140.

The deciding shot came at the par 3, 9th hole. Nagy's drive found the water. Harrison's six iron landed 12 feet from the pin. He lagged up, got his par, the win, and the boys' leading player award.

Grantham's Kyle Best got the day rolling when he improved from 46 to a 38 to cop the boys 8-9 competition with a two-day score of 84.

"I just concentrated on fundamentals out there today," he said.

The plan worked flawlessly, as he netted four birdies.

Mallory Warrick grabbed the top girls 10-11 slot.

"My putting was much better today," she said.

Her fairway play wasn't bad, either. She eagled the 10th, holing a six iron on her second shot

Pikeville's Cierra Harris, Kelli Forbis' cousin, came in second. She was competing in only the third tournament of her career.

Two long-standing rivals went at it again in the finals of the boys 10-11 division. Chandler Upchurch (40-44--88) saw his one-shot lead evaporate on the 17th. Upset by his fairway shot going into the woods and his ensuing shot landing in a trap, he played the wrong ball and was assessed a two-stroke penalty.

His nine gave the victory to Kinston's Reid Wooten (46-40--86), who played "good-bad-good-bad."

In the boys' 12-13 bracket, Raleigh's Spencer Lawson (75-71--146) eagled No. 2 when he canned a lob wedge from 75 yards out. Unfortunately, his three-putting on No. 18 cost him third place.

There was just no catching James Ellis.

No telling what his 36-34--70 round would have been if he hadn't found water on No. 9 and No. 11, the only two hazards on the course. Coupled with his opening-round 66, first place was a forgone conclusion.

Chapel Hill's Michelle Ahn won the girls 12-15 title. Her 75-70--145 score was also good for the leading player award.

Both tournament directors, Jack Snyder and Scott Crocker, declared the tournament an unqualified success.

"It took a team effort," said Crocker. "We couldn't have done it without our volunteers and particularly the help of the Coca-Cola Company, who was a lifesaver with drinks."

The tournament should also be viewed as a learning work in progress for both players and organizers.

"Next year," said Snyder, "this event should double in size. We've learned a tremendous amount of 'do's and don'ts.'"

"They (the players) definitely need to stay more focused on all the mental aspects of the game," said Crocker. "It was hot. They need to stay well hydrated. They also should have considered getting one of their friends to caddy for them."

"The players need to recognize that they are ultimately responsible for their actions and conduct, knowing the rules, showing up on time and their score."