07/28/06 — Dream becomes reality - Forbis will play on famed Pinehurst No. 2 course

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Dream becomes reality - Forbis will play on famed Pinehurst No. 2 course

By Rudy Coggins
Published in Sports on July 28, 2006 2:09 PM

PIKEVILLE -- Every athlete has a dream.

Concentrating on that single vision can take its toll at times and it's certainly easy to give into frustration.

But not if you're Kelli Forbis. The outspoken rising senior and talented golfer from Charles B. Aycock will get a chance to transform her fantasy into reality next week. Forbis has received an invitation to participate in the 28th North and South Junior Championship and play her favorite course -- Pinehurst No. 2.

"I've wanted to play at Pinehurst for a long time; I'm really excited," said Forbis, who attended practice rounds for the 2005 U.S. Open Championship a year ago. "(At the Open) we followed Tiger (Woods) both days and he ended up quitting the second day.

"It was so cool. The course is pretty, but really hard."

Once Forbis completed her junior high school season, she and her dad Mike sat down during the winter and scoured the Internet for tournaments to play. The task was twofold. Forbis wanted to improve her game and prepare for her final season at Aycock, but she also desired to play on the famed Pinehurst No. 2.

They filled out the North/South application and once Forbis received the bid, she realized her dream -- one she's had since eighth grade -- was about to come true.

"This is like a baseball player getting a chance to play at Yankee Stadium," said Mike Forbis. "It's a big deal."

Aware she needed considerable tournament rounds, Forbis joined the Carolinas Golf Association and has competed in numerous weekly events. She walked away with a disappointing 84 after the opening round of the Roy Jones-Clarence Rose Junior Golf Classic. She worked out for three hours that same afternoon at Lane Tree -- her home course. Forbis returned the next day and climbed into the top five with a final-round 78.

A few days later, she competed in an invitational at Bradford Creek and settled for runner-up honors with an 81-78--159.

Forbis admitted she's getting used to a change in her style play. Kevin Williams, the golf pro at Walnut Creek Country Club, has implemented a few minor adjustments.

"He changed my swing," said Forbis. "He changed me from going out and up, to going in and up. It's called the one-piece takeaway. He worked with me on putting and changed my grip.

"I'm still getting used to it. That's why I'm not playing very well."

Throughout her career, Forbis has used mostly her arms instead of her entire body while hitting off the tee and sometimes in the fairway. She's excelled with putting, but is anxious to put the two aspects of her game together on a consistent basis.

The 4-foot-11 dynamo has also joined the Goldsboro Family Y and is working out with a personal trainer. She's developing more strength to help her hit longer from the tee box and building up her endurance, too.

"I'm only going to get better," said Forbis, one of 19 North Carolina female golfers to receive invitations to the 40-player North/South field.

Playing local courses, Forbis contends, helps her get considerable playing time in different conditions but doesn't prepare her for the challenges Pinehurst's courses will present. All three 18-hole links will provide unique tests that just might make a golfer laugh and cry at the same time.

Forbis gets a crack at the daunting No. 2 course when first-round play begins Tuesday. The lengthy course with sloping greens will measure a golfer's consistency in the long and short game. Forbis is undoubtedly looking forward to playing on the same links where golfing greats like Woods, Jack Nicklaus, Arnold Palmer, etc. have amazed appreciative galleries with phenomenal play throughout the years.

"Walnut Creek is close (to No. 2) with green speed," said Forbis. "If anything might save me, it will be chipping and putting."

Round two switches to the No. 8 course, designed by Tom Fazio which opened in 1996, on Wednesday. The course ranks 16th on Golf for Women's 2006 list of the top 50 courses for women to play.

The final day of the 54-hole stroke event concludes Thursday on No. 5, which has the most water hazards of any Pinehurst course. Ellis Maples designed the layout in 1961 and dares golfers with several long and short par 4s.

Each round begins at 7:30 a.m.

"What I admire about my daughter is not how good she plays, but how hard she works," said Mike. "She knows what she has to do (to improve). I don't care how she does (next week) just because she's getting a chance to play on a course like Pinehurst.

"That's been her goal."

And a dream that no longer is fantasy, but reality.