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Labor Day Golf: Plenty of favorites as tournament begins

By Ronnie Gallagher
rgallagher@salisburypost.com
Ask some of the top golfers in Rowan County who the favorites are to win the 56th annual Labor Day golf tournament at the Country Club of Salisbury, which begins today, and they’ll give you a long list of candidates.
It could be Eric Mulkey’s year. He was recently runnerup to Ryan Honeycutt in the Rowan Amateur.
“I’m due,” he said after he and Terry Mulkey qualified as the 10th seed in the championship flight. “I’ve been runnerup. Now I’m ready to win one.”
Stephen Bullock, who, along with Guy Hoskins, is the fourth-seed, likes Thad Sprinkle and Joey Boley.
“They are probably the all-time combined scoring leaders out here,” Bullock said. “Every year, you have to look out for them.”
Bullock and Hoskins will actually battle 13th-seeded Boley and Sprinkle at 1:30 p.m.
Richard Cobb, who played the qualifying round with Bullock and Hoskins, said, “Those two guys have to be the favorites. Hoskins and Bullock are hitting it solid and both are making putts.”
The top two seeds ó No. 1 John and Johnny Kyger, and No. 2 Keith and Michael Dorsett ó will probably have a say in the outcome. The Kygers are defending champs, while the Dorsetts lost in the semifinals in 2008.
Keith Dorsett said he had been in the semifinals two of the last three years and was beaten by the eventual winners each time, including the Kygers in 2008, 2 and 1.
“Getting to Monday afternoon is the goal,” Dorsett said.
The field will be paired down on Saturday and Sunday with the two semifinal matches and the championship being played on Labor Day.
It was a thrilling finish in 2008. The Kygers lost a two-shot lead late over Honeycutt and Dusty Holder and came into the 18th tied. But Johnny blasted his tee shot over 300 yards and then chipped to within three feet of the cup. The father-son team won 1-up.
Cobb, who is in the first flight with partner Mallory McDaniel, said it’s difficult to pick a winner.
“There’s always somebody every year who comes up that you didn’t even see on the list of golfers who qualified that’s real good, too,” he said. “There’s a lot of great people who come through here.”
Maybe a darkhorse team will be No. 8 seed Phil Miller and Jim Christy. Miller made his first final in the Rowan Masters before losing to Ronnie Eidson.
“That was a good experience for me,” Miller said.
Mulkey called the Donald Ross course, “beautiful” and adding “it’s definitely the best course in the county.”
But even with a spectacular course and spectacular weather, he knows there’s a lot of factors weighing into who makes the championship.
“I don’t know if there’s a particular favorite,” Mulkey said during last week’s qualifying. “It’s just who gets hot at this time of year. The golfer who catches fire and stays consistent is usually the one who pulls it out.”
There are so many favorites because there are so many good golfers in this area.
“If everybody in Rowan County played stroke play, there would probably be five or six players in a playoff,” Miller said.

Eidson and partner Curtis Kyles are seeded fifth. … Last year’s Seniors winners Bob Rusher and James Poe are seeded first. … Starting times are in the Scoreboard on page 2B.

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