Labor Day Golf
By David Shaw
SALISBURY — The defending champions barely broke a sweat Saturday in the opening round of the Labor Day golf tournament.
The No. 2 seeds? They sweated profusely before prevailing. And Keith and Michael Dorsett, seeded 14th after a folly-filled qualifying round, did what everyone expected by winning handily.
It was all part of an engaging first day in the 59th annual extravaganza at the Country Club of Salisbury.
“They made everything they looked at today,” Johnny Kyger said after he and his father John had their eggs scrambled 6-and-5 by top-seeded Richard Cobb and Joey Boley. “They made five birdies on the front nine. Richard made a 15-footer on 1, a 15-footer on 4 and a 50-footer on 5. They looked awfully good today.”
The 50-foot putt for birdie on the par-4 fifth hole begged for a description and Cobb obliged, offering a battlefield re-enactment.
“Joey hit it in a bunker and had already parred the hole,” Cobb explained. “And I’m standing over a 50-footer, on the green but about as far from the cup as you want to be. I just wanted to get it close.”
Seconds later, with Boley holding the flag and serving as cheerleader, Cobb slid a putt that felt like it was moving in slow motion.
“Joey was saying, ‘Hold your line. Hold your line,’” Cobb continued. “And the sucker went right in — right in the middle.”
It was that kind of afternoon for last year’s winners. Second-seeded Andrew Morgan and Sean Kramer had no such luck and struggled in a 2-and-1 decision over 15th-seeded Derek Paschal and John Allen. They were five holes up with seven to play but hung on.
“We were looking at cruising to the finish,” said Morgan, the former South Rowan High School southpaw remembered for his late-game heroics. “Then they started making birdies. Guess you can’t get mad at that.”
Paschal rolled in a 60-foot putt to win the sixth hole and Allen sank a 20-footer on seven, trimming the lead to two-up with three to play. Morgan and Kramer then parred their way across the finish line. “It’s a good thing we got up early,” Morgan said with a sigh of relief.
The Dorsetts birdied eight of 14 holes in their 6-and-4 triumph over third-seeded Steve Antosek and Josh Brincefield. Already winners of Rowan’s two other major events this year, they reasserted themselves as the area’s hottest couple.
“The key,” Michael Dorsett said, “was we got up on them early — and neither of them played like they did in the qualifying round. Josh lit it up in qualifying, but he couldn’t get anything going today.”
Fourth-seeded Ken Clarke and Chris Owen remained steady throughout their 4-and-3 win over Glenn Dixon and Chip Comadoll. “We just hit it well from tee to green,” Clarke said. Added Owen: “Consistency was the key.”
High schoolers Jake Kennedy (West Rowan) and Andrew Purcell (Carson), seeded No. 12, survived a roller-coaster ride in their 3-and-1 nod over fifth-seeded Kevin Lentz and Shane Benfield.
“It was an up-and-down battle,” said Kennedy, who birdied 18 to seal the deal. “Kevin and Shane struggled early in the match and never got it going. But I made a lot of key putts and Purcell made key shots.”
Sixth-seed Corey Basinger and Steven Harvey played like old friend in a 5-and-4 win over Randy Goins and Cameron Lee. “We’ve played together for 10 or 15 years,” Harvey said. “If I let Corey down on a hole, we just playin through it. We just grind it out.”
Brothers Phil and David Miller used a strong finishing kick to beat Blake Wray and Ryan Honeycutt. Two holes down with five to play, they birdied the last four holes to win 2-and-1. “On seven (Phil) almost knocked it in the cup on his second shot,” said David Miller, who birdied the final hole from 45 feet.
Charlie Graeber and Bill Haynes, the ninth-seeded pairing, gained a 4-and-3 win over Todd and Stephen Johnson. “We were very consistent,” Graeber said. “We made a bunch of pars, five birdies and two bogies. We’ll have to do that tomorrow — without the bogies.”