Labor Day golf: Kygers win championship

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, September 2, 2008

By Ronnie Gallagher
After John Kyger hit a shot out of the rough on No. 16, he looked toward a tournament official and playfully grimaced.
“Is there a doctor in the house?” he asked.
There was, and it was his son, Johnny.
“He was my doctor today,” laughed the 54-year-old. “He cured all pains. He played great. He carried us through.”
Together, the Kygers dissected the course at the Country Club of Salisbury on Sunday, winning their first-ever Labor Day Golf Tournament.
They defeated the team of Dusty Holder and Ryan Honeycutt 1-up when Johnny chipped to within three feet on No. 18 and then watched Holder three-putt.
The golfers gave the crowd of around 200 some memorable moments. Three times, chips off the green ended with the ball going into the cup.
The first came on No. 7 when Holder chipped off the back of the green. He threw his arms up in the air as it gave his team some momentum and a 1-hole lead.
“I had a good lie and it just went in,” Holder said.
Holder and Honeycutt held the lead until the 12th hole. It could’ve been larger but John Kyger pulled off a miraculous save on 11. He had hit two bad shots but then chipped in.
“Never give up,” someone yelled from the gallery.
The elder Kyger admitted the large crowd got to him a bit.
“At my age, I had a lot of butterflies for 18 holes,” he chuckled.
His 17-year-old son had no problem with the attention.
“I like the crowd,” he said.
And he gave them something to cheer about from that point on. He birdied 12 and 13 to put his team 1 up.
On No. 13, a par-5, 560-yard hole, Kyger birdied, while Honeycutt barely missed. It was one of the few times his putter didn’t work for him.
“Chipping was all I could do today,” Honeycutt said.
He made his chips count on 16 and 17 when the Kygers had a two-hole lead.
The younger Kyger had already left his opponents and the crowd awestruck by landing his second shot at the par-5, 15th on the green. He missed his eagle try but he and his father led by two going to 16.
Honeycutt left himself a difficult shot from the sand on 16 but the ball floated out of the trap and into the cup, giving his team the hole.
“I don’t know what to say about that,” Honeycutt shrugged. “I hit it just like I wanted and it went in.”
On 17, a 205-yard, par-3, Honeycutt had another spectacular shot from the sand. He saved par, while the Kygers bogeyed, setting up a one-hole showdown.
“I’ll be honest,” Johnny said. “I thought we had it won until 16. They kept chipping things in. They won 17 and it was a match again.”
Holder was thinking he owed his partner.
“After Ryan made it on 16 and made that sand shot on 17, I said I’d try to make him something on that last hole,” Holder said.
He did just that, putting the ball within 15 feet for birdie.
The younger Kyger upstaged him, hitting a monstrous drive and then chipping within three feet. Holder knew he had to give his putt a solid ride.
“I had to make sure I got it there,” he said. “(Johnny) hadn’t missed a putt like that all day. I knew he wasn’t going to miss that one.”
Johnny didn’t have to. Holder missed his birdie try and his par putt.
Honeycutt and Holder have had better days.
“We scrambled well,” Honeycutt said. “We didn’t hit a lot of greens. We had to get up and down a lot.”
But in the end, it was a special day for the Kygers, who regularly play the Donald Ross course.
“I’ve played out here so much, it’s a big advantage,” Johnny said.
And dad?
“I feel best for my son,” he said, swelling with pride. “I hope he’ll play with me next year.”

NOTES: The Kygers were medalists for the second straight year. Last season, they were upset in the second round. … Of playing in front of the large crowd, Honeycutt said, “That’s a first. It was different.” … Holder won the Labor Day tournament back in 1992 with Gary Miller. “When I played in ’92, I don’t think there were this many people out here,” he said. … Holder had birdies on 15, 16, and 17 to help beat Curtis Kyles and Ronnie Eidson in the semifinals 2-1. … The Kygers defeated Keith and Michael Dorsett by the same score in their semifinal. … Joey Boley and Thad Sprinkle won the first- flight title over Chris Smith and Jerry Wright 2-1.