Rowan Amateur: Who else? It’s Lyerly one more time

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, July 19, 2022

By Mike London

SALISBURY — Nick Lyerly playing in a local golf tournament on his home course is almost unfair.

The results are predictable, but they’re still fun to talk about.

“I just go out there and play the best I can every round,” Lyerly said. “It’s always fun to compete and it’s always fun to win. Especially at Corbin Hills. Growing up, I watched my dad (Roger) play a lot of rounds out there.”

Lyerly racked up his fifth straight victory in the Horace Billings Rowan Amateur on Sunday afternoon and did it easily.

Veteran Keith Dorsett, one of the best in local golf for a very long time, had a nice run in the 44th annual tournament and provided the opposition for Lyerly in the final match, but Lyerly didn’t break a sweat. He won 7 and 6, which means they were shaking hands, smiling for photos and handing out trophies after the 12th hole.

In four partial rounds of golf at Corbin Hills this weekend, Lyerly piled up 23 birdies.

Dorsett managed to stay level with Lyerly for three holes, but then Lyerly birdied 4 … and 6 … and 7 … and 8 to pull away. Then he birdied 11 and 12, and it was over.

An improbable birdie on No 6 stood out. Lyerly made a birdie even after incurring a stroke penalty. That’s pretty special, even for Lyerly.

“I accidentally caused my ball to move before my second shot for a penalty,” Lyerly said. “Fortunately, that’s a short par 5 and I hit it 4 feet from the pin and I made the putt. I was 2-up going to that hole, so I don’t think you can call it a turning point, but getting a birdie there, even after a penalty stroke, helped me keep the momentum going on my side.”

As the defending champion, Lyerly enjoyed a first-round bye.

In the second round of the tournament, Lyerly faced Cade Cranfield, a Carson youngster who had played Lyerly a tight match in the recent Rowan Masters at Warrior.

Not this time. It was 8 and 6.

“I just played really well,” Lyerly said. “Cade hit some very good shots, but he didn’t have the kind of round he had in the Rowan Masters.”

Lyerly also won with relative ease against Jason Bernhardt, the No. 8 seed, in the quarterfinals.

“Jason is a good player, but he got off to a tough start and gave me a couple of holes,” Lyerly said. “And then I made a lot of birdies.”

No. 4 seed Ross Brown charged into the semifinals with some solid play before he ran into a brick wall in Lyerly.

Lyerly won 6 and 5.

Dorsett, a four-time champion in the event, had to pull off two upsets to get to the finals. Seeded sixth after qualifying, he eliminated No. 3 Kevin Lentz in the quarters and knocked out second-seeded qualifying medalist Michael Swaringen (67) in Sunday morning’s semifinals.

“Always good playing with Keith,” Lyerly said. “Good friends for a long time.”

Dorsett is a four-time champion in the event, but he settled for runner-up honors behind Lyerly for the second straight year.

While he’s won five Rowan Amateurs in a row, Lyerly also won one title before he started his current spree, so he owns six titles overall. That ties him for the all-time lead in the event with Gary Miller, who racked up six championships in the 1980s and 1990s.

Lyerly’s putter stayed hot on Monday at Camden Country Club in S.C.

He’s trying to qualify there for the U.S. Amateur and shot a sizzling 9-under 61 in the first of two rounds. He turned in a bogey-free round, with an eagle and seven birdies.

The second round will be played today. Only five in an elite field will qualify for the U.S. Amateur, but Lyerly is the guy they’ll all be chasing.

“I’ve had a really good summer,” Lyerly said. “A bunch of solid tournaments. A lot of consistency. Now I want to finish strong.”


NOTES: Lyerly also has won four straight Rowan Masters. … Next on the calendar for Lyerly is the prestigious Western Amateur in Illinois. … Local golfer Michael Childress shot 69 in the first round of the U.S. Amateur qualifier at Camden. Childress shot 74-71-71-70 to tie for 33rd in the Carolinas Amateur that concluded on Sunday at Charlotte Country Club.