Labor Day Golf: Cobb, Boley win in a rout

Published 12:00 am Monday, September 5, 2011

By David Shaw
SALISBURY — Just like no one predicted, Joey Boley and Richard Cobb are your 2011 Labor Day Tournament champions.
The 11th-seeded pair needed 19 holes to oust John and Johnny Kyger in a dehydrating, four-hour semifinal match Monday at the Country Club of Salisbury. Later they needed little more than two hours to blow away East Rowan graduates Kevin Lentz and Shane Benfield, 7-and-6, in a soggy championship round.
“We tried to be quiet all week,” cracked first-time champ Boley, a former All-American golfer at Catawba. “We didn’t want anybody to know we were here. We just turned in our scores and left.”
Boley and Cobb — who play out of The Warrior — were mandatory guests of honor at a post-tournament awards presentation, walking out with cash awards and the championship trophy.
“We’re the only ones out of the final four who didn’t get our picture in the paper,” said Cobb, now a three-time winner. “We just needed to make everybody wait.”
For Lentz and Benfield, their first trip to the finals was a train wreck in slow motion. They bogeyed five holes and double-bogeyed the 12th. During one stretch they lost five consecutive holes. And playing the last six in a steady drizzle wasn’t conducive to playing catch-up.
“The rain put our fire out,” said Benfield. “We just ran out of magic. And believe me, we had a lot of magical moments this weekend.”
One that left an imprint was Lentz’s 35-foot chip shot that back-spinned into the hole at No. 18 in the semifinals, forcing an extra hole and propelling his team into the final round.
“But it wasn’t near as good as the shot my teammate made on 19,” Lentz said graciously.
Things went downhill in a hurry for the ninth seeds in the championship. Up a hole after three, Boley and Cobb briskly captured the fourth, fifth, sixth, seventh and eighth and were threatening to run away and hide. Not until the ninth hole did Lentz and Benfield prevail, inching within five-down at the break.
“Once you get that far behind, it’s just to make up ground,” Benfield said. “We kind of beat ourselves more than anything today.”
There were a number of telling moments. At No. 4 Boley sank a 15-foot putt for birdie before Lentz narrowly missed a similar try that would have halved the hole. On the fifth Lentz took a two-stroke penalty after his tee shot landed on someone’s front lawn, far off the course.
One hole later his tee shot slammed into a tree limb and and fell harmlessly on the fairway, setting up a difficult approach.
“It was their first time (in the championship),” said Cobb, now 3-3 on Mondays. “I know my first time was terrible. You never know what’s gonna happen. They could have a bad day — and they did.”
The winners, meanwhile, were steady. They birdied three of the first six holes, bogeyed the ninth and parred the remaining eight. The match ended when Lentz and Benfield exploded cigar-style at No. 12, where a double-bogey six cemented the outcome.
“I missed a putt on 10 by an eighth-of-an-inch,” Lentz offered. “Right then I knew, when I left it hanging on the lip, the fire was out.”
Both Boley and Cobb felt staying even-keeled was a key.
“When I was out the hole, my partner was in it,” Boley said. “And vice versa. We only had three birdies, but it’s all we needed.”
Added Cobb, “Being consistent when the other was out, that’s what did it. We were never both out of it at the same time.”

NOTES: Cobb also prevailed in 2005 and 2007. … Boley had come up short in two previous trips the finals. … The final round was halted for about eight minutes after the ninth hole when the National Weather Service issued a tornado watch for southern Rowan. … Chris Owen and Ken Clarke won the consolation championship, besting Randy Goins and Steven Harvey, 5-and-4. … Grace Yatawara and Allison Dupree won the first-ever women’s flight. See page 2C for story. … All flights are also on page 2C.