Golf: Rowan Amateur begins today at Corbin Hills
By Ronnie Gallagher
SALISBURY — Moments after Keith Dorsett won the Rowan Masters last month, he was asked about the Horace Billings Rowan Amateur.
He just smiled.
While dominating the Masters at The Warrior, he has struggled to do the same in match play at Corbin Hills. He has won only once there while owning seven Masters titles.
And he considers Corbin Hills his home course.
Today, Dorsett starts his bid to win the second stage of what it considered the Triple Crown of Rowan County golf.
Thanks to superintendent Tim Gardner and his staff, Dorsett and the 31 other golfers who tee it up today better be ready.
Gardner, “the Guru of Greens,” has the 6,500-yard, par-72 layout providing a challenge.
“The greens are good and the fairways are pretty hard and pretty fast,” said club pro Jay Hill, a pretty fair golfer himself. “We put the tees in spots they haven’t seen in a while. We’ll have fun with the setup and let ’em go play for it.”
Hill invites local fans to the course to watch the best in the county. And the usual big names are here. Defending champion Ronnie Eidson, the 57-year-old ageless wonder, is going after his fourth Amateur title. He tees off at 2:46 p.m. against John Baxter. Dorsett, the No. 8 seed, goes off against Bryan Moore at 2:54.
Gary Miller, the most prolific Amateur winner with five championships, tees off at 3:42 against Sean Kramer, which could be an entertaining match. Kramer was the medalist at the Rowan Masters.
Randy Bingham, a three-time winner, tees off at 3:10 against dangerous Shane Benfield.
“Randy has won about everything you can win in Rowan County,” Hill said.
Mallory McDaniel, who has won here twice, tees off at 3:26 against Carl Moore.
“You don’t win golf tournaments in match play and not know how to hit it around,” Hill noted.
And don’t forget Mark Deese, who was the only golfer to shoot under-par in qualifying with a 69.
“The whole field is loaded and can beat each other up,” Hill said. “There could be some interesting matches on Saturday if guys get through their first match.”
One of those Saturday specials could be — you guessed it — Dorsett vs. Eidson.
Hill said he has taken Dorsett to a couple of pro-ams. The first, Dorsett shot a 64, sight unseen. Then in Morehead City, he shot 68-69. He is also preparing to qualify for the U.S. Amateur.
“Keith’s got momentum,” Hill said. “But Ronnie’s lurking. He’s right down the middle, right on the green and he putts really well.
“They just seem to have another gear that if they get you down, they keep you down.”
Of course, Hill, in his first year at Corbin Hills, realizes in match play, any golfer could go down at any time. He can’t wait to watch the drama unfold.
“This is my first Rowan Amateur, so I hope it goes well,” he said.
With the talent at Corbin Hills this weekend, there’s no doubt it will.
NOTES: The third leg of the Triple Crown comes at the Country Club of Salisbury with the famed Labor Day tournament. … There is a Horace Billings bracket and a Gene Auten bracket. Billings is the beloved, long-time sports editor of the Salisbury Post, while Auten was a past owner of Corbin Hills. … Seeds 1 through 10 are Eidson, Deese, Steve Gegorek, Joe Cress, Todd Johnson, Kramer, Curt Thomas, Dorsett, Brian Jones and McDaniel. … On Saturday, play begins at 8 a.m. and another round at 1 p.m. On Sunday, it will be the same format with the championship round beginning around 1 p.m.
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