Local golf: Lyerly makes it three straight Rowan Masters titles
Published 12:00 am Tuesday, June 29, 2021
By Mike London
CHINA GROVE — Nick Lyerly has won prestigious events such as the North Carolina Amateur, the Eastern Amateur and the Southern Conference Championship. That means he wears a bull’s-eye in every local tournament as the young man to beat.
Wearing the target and lugging around the burden of sky-high expectations doesn’t seem to have much of an effect on Lyerly, who starred at East Rowan High. He stays calm and poised. He doesn’t provide any openings, and the pressure is always on his opponents.
Not that Lyerly is perfect on the golf course. He did make a bogey to lose in a playoff in his bid for a second North Carolina Amateur title recently.
But in local events, he’s still favored against the rest of the field.
Lyerly has won three straight Rowan Amateurs on his home course at Corbin Hills. On Sunday, the recent UNC Greensboro graduate won his third straight Rowan Masters at Warrior.
“A win is a win, and it’s always exciting to win,” Lyerly said.
Sunday’s championship match was somewhat anti-climactic after a grind for the champion of five matches in three days.
Lyerly won 7 and 5 in the final against veteran Richard Cobb. Lyerly was up three after five holes and up four after nine, and there wasn’t much suspense.
“I was happy with how I played today,” Lyerly said. “One bogey in two rounds. Solid, not many mistakes.”
The Sunday morning semifinals were tighter, especially Cobb’s match against William Little. Cobb finally went up one on No. 14 and kept the lead. Both golfers birded No. 18.
Lyerly was at the top of his game in the semifinals and needed to be to get past Lenoir-Rhyne golfer and former Salisbury High standout Hank Robins, 3 and 2.
“It was a good, close match,” Lyerly said. “I got off to a nice start, got ahead and played solid enough to maintain a lead. But I had to make birdies to win holes. Hank wasn’t giving any holes away. He played very well.”
Lyerly made birdies on Nos. 2, 7, 8 and 9, carding a 31 on the front nine. He also birdied Nos. 12 and 13. He closed out the match with a par on No. 16.
While he’s won three straight Rowan Masters, Lyerly isn’t the king of the event yet. Keith Dorsett has won seven Rowan Masters titles. Dorsett won three in a row twice, but never four in a row. That will give Lyerly something to shoot for in 2022.
Lyerly doesn’t rest much.
A few hours after winning in China Grove, he headed to Pinehurst for this week’s North & South Men’s Amateur. The tournament will be played on Pinehurst No. 2 and No. 4.
Lyerly missed a practice round on Sunday in order to defend his Rowan Masters title, but he got to play a practice round in Pinehurst on Monday.
“I’m feeling pretty confident about the way I’m playing right now,” Lyerly said. “I’ve had a lot of top-10s in the last year. You can’t expect to make a lot of birdies on Pinehurst No. 2, but if you can make pars, you can do well. I’ll have a plan of making a lot of pars.”