Rowan Masters: Eidson holds off Miller
By Bret Strelow
CHINA GROVE ó Ronnie Eidson stopped the golf cart near the trunk of his automobile, which was parked adjacent to good friend Keith Dorsett’s.
Dorsett, a four-time Rowan Masters champion who claimed three consecutive titles from 2005-07, joked about getting his game in shape given that Eidson now has a winning streak of his own.
Eidson, 56, secured his second straight Rowan Masters championship with a 1-up victory against 24-year-old Phil Miller on Sunday at Warrior Golf Club.
Eidson broke through last year with a 5-and-3 win against Jason Meadows in the final match, ending Dorsett’s dominant run.
“I’ve known him since he was real little, so we kind of nudge each other all the time,” Eidson said.
Eidson reached Sunday’s final with a 3-and-2 win against 19-year-old Derek Lipe, who used a tap-in birdie on the 19th hole to edge 24-year-old Sean Kramer for third place.
Eidson took the lead for good against Miller by winning the 14th hole with a par. They halved the last four holes.
“They oughta be giving me the yellow tees,” Eidson said with a laugh. “I was older than any two of them combined. I have played some really nice people in the tournament, and it’s a good crowd to play with.”
Miller, who held a 4-up advantage at the turn before earning a 2-and-1 victory against Kramer in the semifinal round, won two of the first three holes in the final.
Eidson evened the match with a birdie at the par-3 eighth hole, and both players made par at No. 9.
“I was 2-down after three holes, and you just have to remember there’s 18 of them and you can’t give up,” Eidson said. “My hat’s off to Phil; he played great. For someone’s first time getting in position to win, he was steady as a rock.”
Miller won No. 10 with a birdie, and Eidson answered with a match-squaring birdie at No. 11. A par enabled Eidson to head to the 13th tee with a 1-up lead, but Miller tied the match with a birdie.
Miller hooked his drive at No. 14 and still had a chance to salvage a par, but he missed a 15-foot putt.
“Ronnie’s a good player,” said Miller, a China Grove resident and one of seven homeschooled children in his family. “This is only my second time playing, and last year I got sick on the second day ó I got really dehydrated. I feel fortunate to be runner-up.”
Miller, the qualifying medalist, made four birdies en route to a 73 in the final match.
Eidson had four birdies in an even-par round of 71.
“I did not have my ‘A’ game this weekend,” Eidson said, “but I played just good enough to survive.”
Derek Lipe defeated Sean Kramer in 19 holes on Sunday afternoon. Lipe’s 20-foot eagle putt on the first extra hole, a par 5, set up an easy birdie.
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