09/13/05 — Forbis all business at ECC match

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Forbis all business at ECC match

By Rudy Coggins
Published in Sports on September 13, 2005 2:00 PM

MOUNT OLIVE -- Kelli Forbis didn't spend a normal weekend like most high school students. Sure, she talked with friends and she did homework, but it didn't involve a reading assignment or answering questions from a textbook.

Forbis, instead, sat in the middle of her bedroom floor and surrounded herself with golf scorecards from numerous rounds played at Southern Wayne Country Club. The Charles B. Aycock junior visualized each hole and devised a strategy on approach shots from the tee to the fairway to the green.

She executed her plan to near perfection Monday afternoon. Forbis carded a sterling 1-over par 37 on the front nine and seized medalist honors in the first Class 3-A Eastern Carolina Conference women's golf meet of the season. Brooke Newell complemented Forbis with a nine-hole total of 48, giving Aycock a two-player score of 85 -- 14 strokes lower than the host Saints.

League newcomer Wilson Beddingfield finished third with 111, while Eastern Wayne captured fourth at 115. Wilson Hunt, also a new ECC competitor, completed the five-team field with a round of 123.

Forbis recorded one birdie, two bogeys and six pars on the challenging front nine. She smartly played balls on the tight, tree-lined course which left little room for error.

"I've been thinking about it all weekend," said Forbis. "I used to be a member out here, so I pretty much knew where to be (on each shot) and what was trouble, so that helped.

"It was easy."

Forbis stood at even par after three holes before earning a birdie on the par-4, No. 6 layout. The par-5, No. 7 hole awaited her and playing mates Melissa Ricker (Eastern Wayne) and Betsy Bennett (Wilson Beddingfield).

The hole, a dog-leg left, has water surrounding the green. Forbis played her tee shot to the left and stayed in line with the green, which had a pin placement in the center.

"I thought about going for it, but decided not to," said Forbis.

Forbis conservatively protected her lead. She two-putted and finished with par. She followed that up with a par on No. 8, but bogeyed the par-4, 306-yard ninth.

Forbis added a par on No. 1 and bogeyed No. 2 to complete her medal-winning round.

"It was fun," said Forbis, the 2004 ECC player-of-the-year runner-up to Brittany Taylor of Eastern Wayne.

Players battled breezy conditions and dry, fast greens that had been refurbished during the summer. Instead of hitting long balls that would carry in the wind, most golfers preferred to stay low near the ground. Club and wedge selection factored into fairway and green shots.

Southern Wayne's Jordan Hill flirted with a 38 before four-putting on No. 9. She concluded the round with a 42. Lynn Grantham contributed a 57 for the Saints, who were playing their first match of the season.

"Jordan played great and the young kids played great to shoot as well as we did," said second-year Southern Wayne coach Mike Connelley. "We hoped to break one hundred. We're going to keep practicing and working hard, and I think Jordan has great potential. Hopefully, we'll work hard and see how good we all can get."

Two first-year players, Ricker and Kelly Price, paced Eastern Wayne's third-place showing. Ricker carded a 57, with Price one stroke behind.

Veteran Warriors coach Scott Waller doesn't favor the nine-hole format. He lamented players experience difficulty -- mentally and physically -- of overcoming mistakes that could take them out of medal contention on a shortened course. "If you have a couple of bad holes, it screws you up the rest of the day," said Waller. "You don't have enough time to work out of it. But everybody is playing the same, so it's fair to everybody."

Ashley Bahne emerged Beddingfield's top scorer with 51, while Brianna Speight chipped in with a 60.

Kari Peeden paced Hunt with a 56, followed by Megan Griffin's 67.

The five teams meet next Monday for the second of five ECC tournaments at Willow Springs Country Club in Wilson. Tee time is 3 p.m.

Notes: Nineteen golfers competed and needed nearly three hours to play nine holes. ... Kinston did not field a team. ... The schools' athletic directors agreed to play nine holes during the regular-season, but the conference tournament will be 18 holes. ... Waller doesn't have a "set" lineup and said he's set up challenge matches each week. ... Aycock exited 4-1 overall with the Warriors at 3-4 and Southern Wayne at 3-1.