Golf: Dorsett wins seventh Rowan Masters title
By Ronnie Gallagher
CHINA GROVE — Maybe they should just change the name of the Rowan Masters to “The Keith Dorsett Invitational.”
Don’t laugh. The “Michael Jordan of Rowan County golf” did it again on Sunday, winning the Rowan Masters for the seventh time in the 10 years of the event, held at The Warrior Golf Club.
And just for the record, MJ only won six championships.
Kidding aside, Dorsett is about as hard to stop in this tournament as Jordan was with the Bulls. You expect him to play practically flawless golf and he usually does on one of his favorite courses.
When his 4 & 3 win over Phil Miller was complete, he wore a big smile.
“It feels good,” he said.
Dorsett’s formula was simple. He left the driver in the bag except for three holes — the 4th, 9th and 11th — and relied on a trusty 3-wood to beat his foes.
“Actually, that was the plan coming into this week,” Dorsett said. “You’re trying to hit fairways and greens and see what they do and if they mess up.”
Miller played well for the most part, but added, “You’ve got to play five solid rounds to go all the way.”
Except for the start of the championship match, Miller did just that. But in typical Dorsett fashion, he jumped out to a quick lead.
On the first hole, a 514-yard, par-5, he birdied to go 1-up. After the second hole, he was 2-up, parring the 434-yarder.
On the fourth hole, another par-5, each player birdied and Dorsett went up by three when he birdied the par 4, 407-yard 7th hole.
Miller pointed to the start as the key to the match.
“The problem was the first two holes,” he said, referring to one tee shot that ended up in a hazard. “From 3 to (the 15th) we both played under-par golf.”
Heading for the 13th tee, down three holes, time was running out for Miller to make a charge.
The 13th is a 532-yard, par-5 and Miller hit two splendid shots, giving him a great opportunity for eagle. His putt was right on line but lipped out of the cup.
“I couldn’t get any of my putts to fall,” Miller said. “It’s harder to make a putt when it counts, especially when the pressure is on.”
He settled for birdie but got no closer because Dorsett, who owned the par-5s, birdied to remain three up with five holes left.
Dorsett had birdie or eagle on all of the par-5s this week.
“I played them pretty much like you need to play them,” Dorsett said. “You’ve got to make birdies on par-5s out here.”
Miller made a beautiful chip on the 14th to within two feet but still couldn’t make up ground. Then, on the 15th, he hit his second shot right. Dorsett saw his opening and played it safe.
“I hit it up there to 10 feet,” he said. “I want to make it and not give him a chance to extend it.”
Dorsett missed his putt but Miller also missed his 6-footer, ending the match.
“You’ve got to give him credit,” Miller acknowledged. “He’s a good player. For the most part, I’m happy with the way I played.”
The 33-year-old Dorsett is signing up for the U.S. Amateur qualifying July 23-24, which will be held at the Warrior, a course, he says he knows, “like the back of my hand.”
Talk about a home-course advantage.
It was two unusual semifinals Sunday morning.
First, Dorsett’s match with Jason Meadows ended after six holes when a family emergency took Meadows off the course. He defaulted.
In a much-anticipated semifinal between cousins Miller and Chris Owen, Miller was on fire, ripping off five birdies. At one point, he was up six after seven holes. He birdied 5-6-7 and was never challenged, winning 6 & 5. Owen had been one of the better golfers coming into Sunday.
NOTES: Dorsett has won seven Masters titles, while Ronnie Eidson has two and Gary Miller one. … Next up for Dorsett is the Rowan Amateur at Corbin Hills. “That’s my home course, pretty much, other than down here,” he said. …. To prove he is, in fact, human, Dorsett has only one Rowan Amateur victory.