Local golf: Rowan Masters down to four

Published 8:29 pm Saturday, June 25, 2022

By Mike London

Salisbury Post


CHINA GROVE — Defending champion Nick Lyerly finally put away Kevin Lentz with an eagle on No. 17 on Saturday afternoon and moved into the semifinals of the Rowan Masters.

Lentz went out with a birdie, but Lyerly managed to top him on the par-5 that plays about 500 yards from the championship tees.

“I hit a hybrid within about 5 feet and made the putt,” Lyerly said. “Kevin had just birdied, so I needed it.”

Lyerly, the former East Rowan star and current UNC Greensboro All-American, shot 5-under at Warrior Golf Club and needed that sharp performance to survive Lentz, who is always a threat in the local tournaments. Lentz was 2-under.

“We both played well today,” Lyerly said. “I would have liked to have made a few more putts, but I’m happy with how I’m striking it. There’s been solid competition here, and it’s always fun to compete in the local events. That doesn’t get old.”

Cade Cranfield, a rising senior at Carson High, turned in a solid junior golf season and has ramped up his game to a whole different level in this tournament. Cranfield qualified as the No. 20 seed with  a 77, but he was 4-under through 16 holes in Saturday afternoon’s match with fifth-seeded Todd Pegram to advance to the Final Four.

In the early rounds, Cranfield ousted a couple of the bigger names in local golf — 13th-seeded Richard Cobb, last year’s runner-up, and fourth-seeded Derek Lipe.

Third-seeded William Little, a long-hitting recent Labor Day Four-Ball winner, was 4-under through 17 holes in his Saturday afternoon victory that eliminated 22nd-seeded Robert Shoaf, who had pulled off two early upsets. Little shot 2-under 69 in qualifying.

Harry Walch’s name has caused some golf fans to do a double-take because it’s so similar to that of Harry Welch, one of Rowan’s golfing legends.

Walch shot 72 in qualifying. In Saturday’s quarterfinals, Walch shot 4-under. He won 2-up over East Rowan rising junior Landon Merrell who was even par.

Merrell has twice been the Rowan County Golfer of the Year in the high school ranks. He knocked out eight-time champion Keith Dorsett in the second round.

Today’s semifinals are set. Little vs. Walch and Lyerly vs. Cranfield. They’ll be on the tee at 8 a.m.

Then the winners will square off at 12:32 p.m.

Lyerly will be seeking his fourth straight title. That hasn’t been accomplished at the Rowan Masters. Dorsett won three in a row on two different occasions.

Lyerly three-peated last summer.

“I wasn’t aware that no one had won in a row until someone told me a few days ago,” Lyerly said. “We’ll see. I’ll see what I can do.”


19th annual Rowan Masters

At Warrior

First-round results (Friday)

(1) Nick Lyerly d. (32) McGwire Owen 4 and 2

(2) Landon Merrell d. (31) Garett Lowe 7 and 5

(3) William Little d. (30) Billy Morgan 8 and 7

(4) Derek Lipe d. (29) Titus Okwong by default

(5) Todd Pegram d. (28) George Benfield 6 and 5

(6) Travis Taylor d. (27) Dan Hurd 2-up

(7) Harry Walch d. (26) Matt P0zsik 2 and 1

(8) Kevin Lentz d. (25) Blake Houston 3 and 2

(24) Joe Crossen d. (9) Chris Bowers 1-up

(23) Brian Jones d. (10) Christopher Baguma by default

(22) Robert Shoaf d. (11) Ricky Adams 2 and 1

(12) Roger Jernigan d. (21) Ibraham Aliga by default

(20) Cade Cranfield d. (13) Richard Cobb 2 and 1

(14) Shane Benfield d. (19) Kevin Stimberis 5 and 4

(15) Keith Dorsett d. (18) Trey McKee 3 and 2

(16) Sean Kramer d. (17) Brandon Phillips 2 and 1


Second-round results (Saturday morning)

(1) Lyerly d. (16) Kramer 6 and 5

(2) Merrell d. (15) Dorsett 5 and 3

(3) Little d. (14) Benfield 5 and 4

(4) Lipe d. (20) Cranfield 7 and 5

(5) Pegram d. (12) Jernigan 3 and 1

(22) Shoaf d. (6) Taylor 2 and 1

(7) Walch vs. (23) Jones 6 and 4

(8) Lentz vs. (24) Crossen 2-up


Quarterfinal results (Saturday afternoon)

(1) Lyerly d. (8) Lentz 2 and 1

(20) Cranfield d. (5) Pegram 4 and 2

(7) Walch d. Merrell 2-up

(3) Little d. Shoaf 3 and 1


Semifinal pairings (Sunday)

(1) Lyerly vs. (20) Cranfield, 8 a.m.

(7) Walch vs. (3) Little, 8 a.m.


Championship (Sunday, 12:32 p.m.)

Semifinal winners