Golf: Dorsett the man to beat at Rowan Masters
By Ronnie Gallagher
CHINA GROVE — Every year the same question is bantered about: Is this the Sunday Keith Dorsett doesn’t win the Rowan Masters?
And then you hear a statement like this from Brian Lee, the golf pro at The Warrior.
“I think Keith is playing as well as he has in the past three years.”
That doesn’t sound like good news for Jason Meadows, Chris Owen and Phil Miller, who join Dorsett, the six-time Masters champion, in the Final Four today.
Especially if Dorsett plays like he did yesterday. He scorched the beautiful Warrior course for a whopping seven birdies in a 5 & 4 win over Andrew Morgan in the morning and four more against Alex Nianouris in a 3 & 2 win in the quarterfinals.
Afterward, he didn’t dispute Lee’s assessment.
“I’m probably playing better than I have in the last couple of years,” he said. “I’m making a lot more putts than I used to. It’s hard work, dedication and more practice time.”
Next up for the No. 1 seed is 21st-seed Meadows, who made the Final Four with a 2 & 1 win over Corey Basinger.
The winner of their semifinal match will meet the Chris Owen-Phil Miller victor for all the marbles.
No. 6 seed Owen came back from two holes down after nine to beat his good buddy Robert Jordan 3 & 2.
The 15th-seeded Miller edged No. 23 Alex Lee, Brian’s son, 2-up.
How hot was Dorsett in his morning match? Morgan was 2-under after nine and trailed by five holes. Dorsett cruised home.
That put him against Nianouris, a prep phenom headed to Davidson. Dorsett had defeated Nianouris in the last two Rowan Masters title matches.
“I knew I had to get up on him if I wanted to beat him,” Dorsett said. “I know what caliber of golfer he is.”
Dorsett birdied 1 and 4 and never looked back.
“He made a lot of birdies and I didn’t make enough putts,” Nianouris said. “My hat’s off to him. You can’t make mistakes.”
Miller described his match with Lee as “up-and-down, all-around.”
They traded the lead several times until Miller pulled it out on No. 18.
Like Dorsett, Owen was red-hot in his morning match, a 4 & 3 win over Bubba Hendren. He was bogey-free.
Jordan was looking to beat his second top six seed. Earlier in the day, he ousted No. 3 Joey Boley 4 & 2.
“I played well,” Jordan said. “Boley helped me out some. He didn’t putt like he usually does.”
Jordan was still playing well until Owen caught him by winning holes 10 and 11. Owen then won 12 to take the lead for good.
“It’s actually fun because all the people I played are my friends,” Owen said.
Today it will be family. He faces Miller, a cousin, whom he is 0-5 against.
So Miller is confident, right?
“I’m going into the match as the underdog,” Miller reported. “I’m due to lose because of the odds.”
Basinger is known for his putter, and together, he and Meadows birdied six holes. Meadows was up by three after four but Basinger birdied 6, 7 and 8. Meadows finally ended it up two with a hole to go.
Meadows has played the Rowan Masters four times and has made it to Sunday each time. He has made one final, where he lost to — you guessed it — Dorsett.
Meadows played in the same foursome with Dorsett on Saturday and was impressed.
“He hardly missed a shot,” Meadows whewed. “And he putts so well. That’s the key. It’s going to be tough.”
Not only because of Dorsett’s talent, but because of his experience.
“I’ve been here before,” Dorsett noted. “I know what it’s about and what to expect. It’s playing the golf course and playing my game.”
His game so far has been dominating.
NOTES: Not many golfers are 3-0 against Nianouris, but Dorsett is … Nianouris won an exciting early match against Seth Waller. Down one going into 18, he birdied to tie and then eagled the first extra hole to win … Miller defeated medalist Sean Kramer earlier in the day. … The 14th-seeded Jordan played well but called Owen, “my nemesis.” … Today’s semifinals begin at 8 a.m. and the championship match is set for 12:32 p.m.