Weather plays havoc with Labor Day tourney first day
Defending champs win first-round match
By Marny Hendrick
SALISBURY — Golfers in the annual Crowder/Dorsett Memorial Labor Day 4-Ball tournament not only had to battle each other in Saturday’s opening round, but also extreme heat followed by heavy rain, lightning and finally, darkness.
The 16 teams in the championship flight managed to finish their opening matches, but it took almost seven hours, thanks to a 90-minute weather delay, plus a couple of matches that required extra holes.
The defending championship team of Lee Frick and Blake Wray showed they were not ready to relinquish the title just yet with a strong 4 and 3 win over 16-seeded Ross Brown and Lee Fesperman. Meanwhile, the qualifying medalist team of Clark Alcorn and Alex Nianouris had to survive a 21-hole marathon that ended in darkness, as they edged the veteran team of Chris Owen and Ken Clarke, 1-up.
Based on qualifying seeding, there were several notable “upsets” as No. 13 Chris Rae and Chris Nesbitt outlasted fourth-seeded Charlie Barr and Josh Brincefield, 1-up in 19 holes. The No. 12 seed, Jason Correll and Seth Correll, topped No. 5 Andrew Coward and Austin Miller, 5 and 4, while No. 11 seed Patrick Gregg and Andrew Morgan defeated sixth-seeded Michael and Mitchell Swaringen, 5 and 4.
The father-son team of Thad and Bryson Sprinkle, seeded 10th , downed No. 7 Parker Chavis and Justin Morgan, 3 and 2.
The No. 3-seeded team of Tyler Mulkey and Jordan Taylor, runners-up in last year’s tournament, opened Saturday with a 4 and 2 win over Brian Kennerly and Andre Resner. Rounding out the championship field was the team of Eric Edwards and Alan Fesperman with a 3 and 1 win over Keith Dorsett and Ryan Honeycutt.
The event, the 65th annual, opened early Saturday morning at the par-71 Country Club of Salisbury course. The field features a total of 238 golfers competing in four senior men’s flights, eight open men’s flights, one women’s championship flight, plus the 16-team men’s championship flight. Second round and consolation play continues this morning.
In the championship flight, semi-finals are set for Labor Day morning (Monday) at 8 a.m. with the championship match, featuring the final two teams, scheduled for approximately 1 p.m.
The defending championship team of Frick and Wray managed to compete their first round match before the rains hit as they rolled to a 5 and 4 win over Brown and Lee Fesperman.
“The front nine was pretty amazing for us,” said Wray. “My partner (Frick) came out on fire and was really swinging it well.” The team was 5-under on the front side, leading 4-up, then closed it out on the 14th hole. Wray, from Salisbury and a former golfer at Western Carolina University, says he and Frick would like nothing better than to repeat as champions.
“We are not ready to give it up yet,” he said. “We want to get two in a row because that has not been done in a long time.”
The last repeat winners of the event were the father-son team of John Isenhour Jr. and Tripp Isenhour back in 1988 and 1989.
“It is difficult to win one, let alone two,” Wray said. “But we have got to just continue to do what we have been doing. We have a decent shot.”
A couple of the championship matches took extra holes that ended just as darkness set in.
“It was getting dark, it was wet and it was windy,” said Nesbitt, who teamed with Rae to hold off a late charge by Barr and Brincefield, and win 1-up in 19 holes. “We were two up with three to play when the rain delay came,” Nesbitt said. “But they (Barr and Brincefield) came back after the rain break with a different attitude and played lights out. Barr had an approach shot within two feet on the 18th hole and sank a birdie putt to square the match. On the first extra hole, Nesbitt drained his own birdie putt for the win.
In qualifying play last week, the team of Alcorn and Nianouris blistered the field with an 11-under 60 to claim medalist honors. But that didn’t faze the experienced team of Clarke and Owen, the 2012 champions, in Saturday’s opening round. Owen chipped in a birdie shot on the 18th hole to square the match. It took three extra holes before Alcorn drained a 12-foot birdie putt in the dark to secure the match, 1-up.
“You couldn’t read anything because it was so dark,” Alcorn stated “But it feels great to win. Things were just going our way.” Alcorn turned in the shot of the day earlier when he drilled a 60-foot birdie putt to win the fifth hole.
“They played really well,” Nianouris, a former Davidson College golfer, said of Clarke and Owen. “They are two great guys and are really good. So even though we won, we felt bad for them.”
While the championship flight managed to complete its matches, several other flights were unable to finish Saturday due to darkness. After a day of 90-degree heat, a heavy thunder and lightning storm hit the course about 5:30 pm., bringing a halt to play for the next 90 minutes. Play did resume about 7 o’clock, but some matches were still progress when play was suspended at 8:00, due to darkness.
Country club professional Chad Campbell indicated the incomplete matches will resume at 7:15 Sunday morning, with tee times for second round and consolation matches now set to begin at 9 a.m.
Afternoon matches, including the championship flight, are slated to now begin at 2 o’clock.
65th Annual Crowder-Dorsett Memorial
4- Ball Labor Day Golf Tournament
Championship Flight – First Round Results Saturday
Lee Frick –Blake Wray (1) def. Ross Brown-Lee Fesperman (16) 4 and 3
Clark Alcorn-Alex Nianouris (2) def. Ken Clarke-Chris Owen (2) 1-up (21 holes)
Tyler Mulkey-Jordan Taylor (3) def. 14 Brian Kennerly-Andre Resner 2 and 1
Chris Nesbitt-Chris Rae (13) def. Charlie Barr-Josh Brincefield (4) 1-up (19 holes)
Jason Correll-Seth Correll (12) def. Andrew Coward-Austin Miller (5) 5 and 4
Patrick Gregg – Andrew Morgan (11) def. Michael Swaringen-Mitchell Swarimgen (6) 5 and 4
Thad Sprinkle-Bryson Sprinkle (10) def. Parker Chavis-Justin Morgan (7) 3 and 2.
Eric Edwards-Alan Fesperman (8) def. Keith Dorsett-Ryan Honeycutt (9) 3 and 1
Second Round on Sunday
Frick-Wray vs. Edwards-Fesperman
J. Correll-S. Correll vs. Nesbitt-Rae
Morgan-Gregg vs. Mulkey Taylor
T. Sprinkle-B. Sprinkle vs. Alcorn-Nianouris
See the Scoreboard page for complete results from Saturday’s first round and match-ups for the second round and consolation rounds.