Rowan Amateur down to four
By Dave Shaw
SALISBURY — The usual and not-so-usual suspects are still standing in the 34th annual Rowan County Amateur golf tournament at Corbin Hills.
Keith Dorsett, winner of last month’s Rowan Masters, has qualified for this morning’s semifinals along with Todd Johnson, Mark Deese and Steve Gegorek. Two finalists will tee off for the championship at approximately 12:45 p.m.
“The best golfers around don’t always win these tournaments,” Gegorek said moments after besting Sean Kramer 2-and-1 in Saturday’s quarterfinals. “It’s who is playing the best that day. Keith Dorsett is a terrific golfer, but I’m not counting myself out.”
Gegorek sank three birdies and reached the semis for the first time since 2009, when he ousted the revered Ronnie Eidson in the quarters, then fell to eventual champ Ryan Honeycutt in the semis.
“Beating Ronnie was probably the highlight of my career,” he said.
Gegorek will face off against Mark Deese, a Corbin Hills co-worker, at approximately 8:06 a.m today. Deese beat Carl Moore 4-and-3 after routing Josh Johnson 5-and-3 earlier in the day.
“My irons were the key today,” Deese said after reaching the semis for the first time. “I was able to put shots in pretty good places.”
Moore had a one-hole lead after five before Deese captured the sixth and seventh to move ahead. He pulled away by taking the 10th, 11th and 12th holes.
“Usually I play the back nine real good here,” he said. “I’m just happy to still be alive in this tournament. I’m win-win now.”
Johnson, who made a quick post-round exit, advanced by leveling Ross Steedley 7-and-6 in the round of 16, then edging Michael Dorsett 1-up in the quarterfinals.
“I was actually 2-up after five (holes),” said Dorsett, Keith’s older brother. “But then I hit a shot into the woods on six and he birdied six and seven. We pretty much stayed even the rest of the way.”
Johnson edged in front the 419-yard 12th hole, where he made a 12-foot putt for par, then won the 13th with a par-3. Dorsett won it back on 14, but never pulled even.
“Todd’s just always so steady,” Dorsett said. “He goes far in these match-play tournaments because he doesn’t make many mistakes.”
Keith Dorsett can thank the golf gods for helping him beat Eidson 1-up in the other quarterfinal. He was three holes ahead after six and finished with four birdies and an eagle — Eidson had five birdies — in a marquee matchup of elite golfers. But the shot of the day came when he sank a short putt for par on 15, where his ball teetered on the lip for what seemed like an eternity before dropping into the cup.
“It must sat there for seven or eight seconds,” Dorsett said. “It was just one of those putts that are sitting there leaning and you just let it fall. It was big because it kept me 1-up. Against Ronnie you’ve got to be ahead going into the last three holes.”
Eidson, winner of the past two and three of the last four Amateurs, was graceful in defeat. “That right there shows that when luck’s going your way, it’s going your way,” he said. “Keith is by far the hottest player in the county right now. He makes you pay for every mistake. Someone’s really gonna have to play hard to get past him.”