Rowan Masters Down to 4

Published 12:00 am Saturday, June 25, 2011

By Jordan Honeycutt
CHINA GROVE — It may not be Augusta National, Pebble Beach or even good ‘ol Pinehurst No. 2, but this weekend, Warrior Golf Club is showcasing some talented amateur players in the annual Rowan Masters.
The No. 1, 3, 4. and 7 seeds in the 32-man tournament will get to don their Sunday bests and compete for 36 more holes to determine the “Master.”
In Saturday’s match play contests, defending champion and No.1 seed, Keith Dorsett disposed of Richard Cobb and Jon Adams to reach tomorrow’s semifinals.
Dorsett made seven birdies in his second round match against Cobb and won both by a margin of 2 & 1.
Cobb could have easily turned the tables on Dorsett as he had a couple of birdie putts lip out or fall short , including one in particular that was about one revolution from dropping.
“I could not putt today, and it’s definitely frustrating, because I played Keith so close and so well other than that,” Cobb said.
Dorsett was also pushed by Adams, who blisters the ball off the tee and much like Cobb, just couldn’t get the putts to fall when he needed them most.
Joining Dorsett are the three seed Phil Miller, four seed Chris Owen and 17-year-old Salisbury High standout Alex Nianouris.
Owen played lights out in his morning match against Charlie Graeber, winning 3 & 2 and tallying 7 birdies and all the rest pars.
Miller took care of Joey Boley 3 & 2 and then lagged through some poor play to escape Sean Kramer by the same 3 & 2 spread.
Not making putts also doomed Boley as he missed numerous close ones during his match with Miller.
In his match with Kramer, Miller was a bit erratic and inconsistent, but Kramer couldn’t take advantage.
If Miller found the grass or hazard, Kramer found the woods. If Miller hit a shot fat or sliced one, Kramer found himself hitting out of a bush.
“I feel lucky to get that one over Sean,” Miller said.
“He gave it to me no doubt, as I didn’t play well that match at all.”
Miller has played in the tournament before and has had success, reaching Saturday’s rounds in past years.
As well as the other three guys have played, the most dominant player so far of the tournament has been Nianouris.
Nianouris placed fourth in the state for the Hornets and along with teammate Roy Dixon, were the team leader.
The youngster was a model of consistency all day Saturday, as he hit fairways and greens much like a marine recon sniper hits his targets.
Nianouris defeated Miller’s brother David 3 & 2 and in the showcase match of the day, rolled by second seeded Jackson Griffin 5 & 4.
Griffin impressed in defeat though, as on hole no. 4, Nianouris sank a left-to-right breaking putt from about 25 feet, only to be matched by the same putt from Griffin a few feet closer.
Nianouris didn’t begin to pull away until the back nine, but never let Griffin alleviate the pressure.
The bracket definitely shape up for an exciting semifinal and final round of golf today in China Grove, as Nianouris will battle Miller, to try and finish off the family sweep, while Miller hopes that Alex’s sizzling clubs find a case of frostbite.
Dorsett will meet Owen in the other semifinal match. Dorsett has struggled a bit with his putting in the tournament, but has been talented enough to overcome it.
While Miller is the three seed and Owen the four, many would have to consider it an upset should they advance due to Nianouris’ hot play and Dorsett’s past success.
Many are gearing up for a possible Dorsett-Nianouris final, but it will be interesting to see if the usual suspect (Dorsett) can retain his title, or if one of the new bloods can dethrone him and add their name to the Rowan Masters championship plaque.