06/05/06 — WCMA - Burke, Newsome repeat as champions

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WCMA - Burke, Newsome repeat as champions

By Rudy Coggins
Published in Sports on June 5, 2006 2:31 PM

The "Johns" have it.

Jon Burke and John Newsome survived late-round scares and successfully defended their respective division titles during the 2006 Wayne County Men's Amateur golf tournament. John Zambelli emerged a first-time champion.

Burke toiled through a third-day round which included one bogey and three double-bogeys on the back nine at Walnut Creek Country Club on Sunday afternoon. However, the rising sophomore at Barton College shot par on the final three holes to finish with a 54-hole score of 2-over par 217 -- two strokes ahead of runner-up Brandon Campbell in Open Division play.

Newsome, the reigning Super Senior title holder, shot even par on the front nine and sank a three-foot putt on the final hole to turn back former WCMA champion Mickey Nance by one stroke. Nance fired an even-par 72.

Zambelli defeated two-time defending Senior champion Bill Brewer in a one-hole playoff.

Clear blue skies and a slight breeze greeted golfers for the final 18-hole round. Pin placements, rolling greens and tree-lined fairways presented challenges to every participant in the three divisions.

Jamie Martin, who stayed within striking distance after the first two rounds, concluded third-day play with a 1-under 71. Campbell turned in a steady 72, while Zambelli and Brewer each carded 73s.

"(The lead) can get away from you in a hurry here, it really can," said Burke, whose goal was to shoot no worse than 2-over. "You can't win it on the first day, but you can lose it. You can't win it on Saturday, but you want to put yourself into position (to win Sunday).

"When the scores kept going up and up, I figured someone had to go a little lower than they did."

Burke's troubles started early. The former Charles B. Aycock standout collected back-to-back bogeys on Nos. 4 and 5, but erased one stroke with a birdie on No. 6. Despite the misfortune, he manufactured a 1-over 37 on the front nine.

But Burke became a little more distressed on the back nine. He either bogeyed or double-bogeyed four of the first five holes and his three-stroke advantage entering the day quickly dwindled to one stroke.

Playing partner Kevin Brindley birdied No. 14 -- the same hole where Burke hit into the water and finished with a double-bogey 6.

"What a great break to hit it into the water," lamented Burke. "I actually took a gap wedge out of my bag and put a 3-iron in for this tournament, and I had perfect gap-wedge yardage about four times today."

The three-shot swing bothered Burke.

Former Open Division champion Randy Daughtry, who played with Burke and Brindley, patted Burke on the back and encouraged him to play through the troublesome hole.

Burke bogeyed No. 15, but answered with three consecutive pars and emerged the third two-time Open Division winner in the WCMA's eight-year existence. Jody Dean won the inaugural WCMA in 1999 and took the cup again in 2003. Daughtry was the two-time defending champion until Burke came onto the scene a year ago.

"I didn't play golf the way I did the first two days," said Burke, who equaled last year's three-round score of 217. "(The round) is very characteristic for this kind of course because it's tough.

"I thought, maybe, someone would go under par."

Brindley, who shot a tidy 69 at GMGC, grabbed third behind Campbell with a 220. Martin recovered from an opening-day 76 at Lane Tree and ended up fourth overall at 221. Dane Jones, who played in the same group with Campbell, fired a 223.

Zambelli climbed into contention with an even-par 71 during second-round play on the soggy Goldsboro Municipal Golf Course layout. He struggled Sunday and carded a 5-over 77.

Zambelli, a five-time amateur participant, entered the day with a four-stroke lead over Brewer and Robert Brown.

"It was one of the days where I kind of scraped around," said Zambelli of his second-round effort. "I did not swing well and putted well ... my short game kept me in position to play even par in the rain.

"The short game can save you or kill you. It just depends on what day it is."

Brewer, the first-day leader, constructed a strong back nine and forced the one-hole playoff.

Each teed off the far right side of the box. Zambelli's shot landed left in the fairway, while Brewer encountered a bad lie in the trees. He contemplated three choices -- hit through, around or under it.

"I made the wrong choice," said Brewer.

Brewer's shot hit a couple of tree limbs and landed a good 15-plus yards from the green. His third shot rolled behind the cup and he eventually two-putted for bogey.

Zambelli's second shot also landed behind the cup and his birdie attempt rolled just left of the cup. He two-putted for par and earned his first-ever WCMA Senior Division crown.

"I got lucky," said Zambelli.

Five strokes separated the top four finishers in the Senior Division. Sam Strawn carded a 54-hole round of 221, followed by Robert Brown with a 222. Don Garris Jr. completed the top five with a three-day score of 228.

Newsome three-putted a couple of times and finished the back nine at 4-over. He shot even par on the front nine and managed to keep his one-stroke advantage over Nance.

"Some of the spokes broke, but I kept the hub on," laughed Newsome. "We enjoy playing together and he's a good competitor. Mickey almost caught me like he did last year."

Joe McLamb shot three rounds in the 70s and ended play with a 228. Woodrow Holloman took fourth at 236 and Herman Porter finished with a 237.

The division champions will have their names engraved on the WCMA Cup.

The 2007 WCMA is scheduled for June 1-3 with first-round play at Southern Wayne Country Club. Lane Tree is the second-round venue and Goldsboro Municipal Golf Course is the final-round site.