Frick and Wray repeat as Labor Day champs

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, September 4, 2018

Click here to view more photos from Monday’s tournament action.

By Marny Hendrick

SALISBURY — With the championship of the annual Crowder-Dorsett 4-ball golf tournament hanging in the balance, veteran golfer Lee Frick hit what he called “… the greatest putt of my life.”

The extremely difficult birdie putt didn’t secure the win for Frick and his playing partner Blake Wray but it was the dagger that maintained a 2-hole lead on the 15th hole, setting the stage for a tense 2 and 1 win over Alex Nianouris and Clark Alcorn in the championship flight of the tournament Monday evening.

The Frick putt was a side-hill lie about 12 feet from the hole that broke about three feet to secure the crucial birdie. “That was huge, that was the momentum, that was everything,” said Frick. “If you took me back out there right now I couldn’t make it again.”

Nianouris had chipped to within 6 inches of the hole on the Par 5, 15th for a sure birdie that threatened to cut the deficit to 1-up with just three to play. But Frick had other ideas and his partner Wray was grateful. “That putt was definitely huge, “Wray said. “We said we wanted to be at least 2-up going into 16 because anything can happen from there on out. We got the clutch putt then managed it on 16 and 17 to get the win.”

The match ended two holes later when a long birdie putt by Alcorn on the par 3, 17th slide just past the hole by inches. The teams halved the hole giving Frick and Wray the 2 and 1 victory.

Monday’s 65th annual championship finals featured a couple of historic footnotes. Frick and Wray captured their first title a year ago and now they have become the first team to repeat as champions in consecutive years since 1988 and 1989 when the father-son team of John Isenhour, Jr. and Tripp Isenhour accomplished the feat. Monday’s final was the first time in recent memory that the defending champion faced the qualifying medalist team in the championship. Clark and Nianouris led tournament qualifying a week ago with a blistering 11-under par 60 to secure the second seed.

“I think we tried our best but it wasn’t our best golf,” said Alcorn, 24, who was competing in his first Labor Day finals. “You have got to play so consistently for so long and we are really worn out. We didn’t make as many putts as we wanted to but props to Lee and Blake because it was really impressive the way they put together four straight rounds like they did.” Alcorn and Nianouris, also 24 and a former Davidson College golfer, plan to return and see if they can find a way to win the tournament in the future.

The championship final Monday capped off three days of competition on the Par 71 championship course at the Country Club of Salisbury. With high heat, heavy rain and darkness factoring in on the first two days, the event featured 238 golfers in eight open men’s flights, four senior men’s flights, a highly competitive women’s flight and the 16 team championship division. (See the scoreboard page of today’s Salisbury Post for all results from all flights).

“People don’t realize just how tough it is to win two matches in one day and four in a row,” said Wray, 34, of Salisbury and a marketing representative for Monster Energy Drinks. “It gets to be really difficult down the stretch but we hung in there and really didn’t make any bad mistakes so it worked out well.”

Frick, 37, who works with his dad at Blandy Hardwoods Company, took a broader view of his historic championship win.  “I am just blessed,” he said. “The Lord kept me calm and kept my head right in it. Plus I was just blessed to have a great partner.” He also noted that the back-to-back win “puts us in some pretty good company.”

Frick and Wray reached the finals with a 2 and 1 semi-final win Monday morning over the 12th seed Jason and Seth Correll. Nianouris and Clark, who won their first match in 21 holes and their second round in 20 holes, won their morning semi-final over the 3 seed, Tyler Mulkey and Jordan Taylor, last year’s runners-up.

The afternoon final saw Alcorn birdie the first hole to put his team 1-up and it stayed that way until Frick and Wray squared it up on No. 6 with a par. A par on the 8th hole gave Frick and Wray a 1-up lead then they expanded it with a Wray birdie on 10 and a Frick birdie on 11 to go 3-up. Nianouris answered a birdie on 12 to cut the deficit to 2-up but Wray answered back with his own birdie on the long par 5 13th hole for the 3-up margin.

Alcorn and Nianouris had one more push left when they cut the lead to 2-up thanks to a dramatic 40-foot birdie putt by Nianouris on 14. That set the stage for the crucial turn of event s on the 15th hole that led to another title for Frick and Wray.

“I think it was just our experience that made a difference in the end,” Frick stated. “Plus Blake and I have been in every situation possible good and bad in this tournament over the years, winning and losing. But playing with him is the key.”

They plan to return next year and go for three in a row.

65th Annual Crowder-Dorsett Memorial 4- Ball Tournament

Championship Flight

Semi-Finals (Monday, 9-3-18, morning)

Lee Frick and Blake Wray (1) defeated Jason Correll and Seth Correll 2 and 1

Alex Nianouris and Clark Alcorn (2) defeated Tyler Mulkey and Jordan Taylor 3 and 2

Championship Flight Finals

Finals (Monday, 9-3-18, afternoon)

Frick and Wray defeated Nianouris and Alcorn 2 and 1