Rowan Masters: Only four left standing in Rowan Masters

Published 10:17 pm Saturday, June 27, 2015

CHINA GROVE —It’s easy to say Justin Lefler deserved to win his quarterfinal match Saturday in the Rowan Masters golf tournament — and just as easy to say Davis Richards didn’t deserve to lose.

Lefler, runner-up a year ago, shot a 66 for 18 holes and made nine birdies to advance to Sunday morning’s semifinals at the Warrior Golf Club. The 17-year old Richards was ousted despite carding a 6-under 65 and recording seven birdies and an eagle.

“Hey, I’m an N.C. State guy and he’s going to N.C. State in the fall,” said Lefler, who needed 20 holes to edge Richards, 1-up. “Either way, N.C. State was coming out on top in that match.”

Lefter, the 30-year old course superintendent at Rolling Hills Golf Course, joined defending champion Matt Hardman, No. 2 seed Michael Childress and Catawba rising sophomore Jeb Bennett in the semis.

“(Lefler) is a great player and a great guy,” said Richards, who’s 12-foot putt for birdie on the 18th hole rimmed out and sent the match into a two-hole playoff. “I couldn’t have lost to a better opponent. The putt on 18 was probably one of the best I hit all day. It just caught the hole and lipped out.”

Lefler made the shot of the day on No. 12 when he jarred a 35-yard chip shot for birdie and took his first lead.

“I was about as far away from the pin as you can be and still be in the first cut,” he joked. “I was just trying to get close and dang if it didn’t go in.”

He secured the win with yet another birdie on the second playoff hole.

“I’ll tell you right now,” Lefler said afterward, “(Richards) was a competitor all the way through. He’s such a good player. I just wanted to give him a good fight.”

Lefler will face off today against Childress, the 15-year old wunderkind who played 36 holes Saturday and recorded 1-up decisions over Bubba Hendren in the second round and Wes Cline in the quarterfinals. Against Hendren, he was three holes down with five to go before rallying.

“I just figured it was now or never,” Childress said. “I ended up winning 1-up on 18.”

His decision against Cline was a back-and-forth struggle.

“I’m not gonna stand here and say I was striping it, making every shot,” he said after an even-par 71 in the quarterfinals. “But I was hitting it in spots and still making pars. I’ve been working on my short game and it was there as a recovery.”

Childress lost to Keith Dorsett in last year’s quarterfinals.

“Yeah, but I’m just fortunate to get past today,” he noted. “Tomorrow I hope I can hit the ball a little better and see how it goes.”

Hardman, the recent Catawba graduate from Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, was pressed to reach the semifinals. He came from two holes down with three to play in a 1-up second-round nod over 17th-seeded Derek Lipe. Then after lunch he captured five of the last eight holes to eliminate No. 8 Josh Brincefield 3 & 2.

“It’s such a strong field this year,” Hardman said. “This morning, (Lipe) gave me all I could handle and then some. I was scrambling, fighting myself. I didn’t swing well for the 14 holes. But from the 15th on I figured it out and finally turned it on this afternoon.”

Hardman’s semifinal competitor is 19-year old Bennett, a Catawba teammate who went the distance to record wins against Christopher Queen and Elon University product Troy Beaver. Bennett, the No. 5 seed, shot a 2-under 69 and had four birdies against Beaver.

“He plays D-I golf, hits it far and hits it straight,” Bennett said of his opponent. “He doesn’t make mistakes. But this is my first match-play tournament, so you can have as many bad holes as you want.”

Bennett dropped a 12-foot, left-to-right slider to advance to the semis, where he’ll meet Catawba’s former premier player.

“He was our No. 1,” said Bennett. “I wasn’t even sniffing our top three or four, so it’s going to be really tough. I’ve got to not only play good golf, but smart golf.”

The championship match should start around 12:30 p.m.


Rowan Masters results

First round

Warrior Golf Club

No. 1 Matt Hardman d. No. 32 Chace Jenson 7&6

No. 17 Derek Lipe d. No. 16 Michael Kee 3&2

No. 8 Josh Brincefield d. No. 25 Chuck Valley 5&4

No. 9 Andrew Purcell d. No. 24 Dwayne McIntyre 3&2

No. 4 Troy Beaver d. No. 29 Jon Waller 5&4

No. 20 Tyler Mulkey d. No. 13 Todd Johnson 6&4

No. 5 Jeb Bennett d. No. 28 Nate Jessup 7&6

No. 21 Christopher Queen d. No. 12 Brad Vinson 2&1

No. 2 Michael Childress d. No. 31 Brandon Cranfield 8&6

No. 18 Bubba Hendren d. No. 15 Kevin Lentz 2&1

No. 7 Wes Cline d. No. 26 Jeff McCarter 2&1

No. 23 Andrew Morgan d. No. 10 Dennis Long 2&1

No. 3 Keith Dorsett d. No. 30 David Miller 4&3

No. 14 Davis Richards d. No. 19 Brian Hewat 1 up

No. 6 Justin Lefler d. No. 27 Seth Waller 7&6

No. 11 Chris Owen d. No. 22 Sean Kramer 7&5

Second-round results

No. 1 Matt Hardman d. No. 17 Derek Lipe 19 holes

No. 8 Josh Brincefield d. No. 9 Andrew Purcell 1 up

No. 4 Troy Beaver d. No. 20 Tyler Mulkey 3&2

No. 5 Jeb Bennett vs. No. 21 Christopher Queen 1 up

No. 2 Michael Childress d. No. 18 Bubba Hendren 1 up

No. 7 Wes Cline vs. No. 23 Andrew Morgan 5&3

No. 14 Davis Richards d. No. 3 Keith Dorsett 7 &5

No. 6 Justin Lefler d. No. 11 Chris Owen 3&2

Quarterfinals results

No. 1 Matt Hardman d. No. 8 Josh Brincefield 3&2

No. 5 Jeb Bennett d. No. 4 Troy Beaver 1 up

No. 2 Michael Childress d. No. 7 Wes Cline 1 up

No. 6 Justin Lefler d. No. 14 Davis Richards 20 holes

Semifinal matches

No. 1 Matt Hardman vs. No. 5 Jeb Bennett

No. 2 Michael Childress vs. No. 6 Justin Lefler


Semifinals winners