Tar Heel Cup Win: Pros Pound Amateurs in Rout at Pine Needles
It was over long before Billy Anderson and Paul Simson reached the 18th hole at Pine Needles Lodge and Golf Club Tuesday, but neither was conceding a thing.
Anderson, the director of golf at the ultra-private Eagle Point Golf Club in Wilmington, and Simson, one of the top amateur players in the state, were dueling in the final singles match of the annual Tar Heel Cup. The professionals had already clinched the championship for the 11th time in 13 matches, but the pair was having too much fun to simply shake hands and go in for the trophy presentation.
It seemed almost fitting that they would halve the final hole and halve the match with 11?2 points each in the Ryder Cup format.
It was another lopsided victory for the professionals, who won the match 251?2 -101?2, but there were no losers in this competition.
The eight-man teams representing the Carolinas PGA and the Carolinas Golf Association are established by a points system that reflects their play in tournaments throughout the preceding year.
The amateurs won the inaugural event in 1995 and won again in 2000, but the scores have been almost embarrassingly in favor of the professionals the past two years on the Pine Needles layout. Still, there is no rush to change the selection procedure.
"We're not really thinking about changing the process," said Jack Nance, executive director of the CGA. "We look at these matches as kind of a reward for our players and they enjoy it.
"Of course, we'd all enjoy it more if we won it once in awhile."
Bryan Sullivan, a former University of North Carolina All-American who won the North and South Championship at Pinehurst in 1983, is the director of golf at Seascape and Kilmarlic, two outstanding courses located in Kitty Hawk and Powell's Point on the Outer Banks. He has participated in 11 of the 13 matches, more than any other professional.
"I don't know why the matches are so lopsided," he said. "Despite the score, we're not really blowing them away. Almost every match we just seem to squeak past them. I don't know if it's something in their heads or ours. It's certainly no lack of talent on their part."
"Most of our guys (amateurs) are kind of mid-amateur players age-wise," said Ray Novicki, assistant director of the CGA in charge of competition. "We could probably get a stronger team if we hand-picked the players, but then so could they. We could get a Webb Simpson (Wake Forest All-American and state amateur champion), but they could get a Kelly Mitchum (a Pinehurst Resort professional who has been CPGA Player of the Year three straight times).
The professionals grabbed an 81?2-31?2 lead after Monday's four-ball matches as Steve Isley and Larry George blanked Skip Taylor and Dale Fuller 3-0; Lance Reid and Jeff Peck beat Simson and Danny Gurley 21?2-1?2; and Anderson and Sullivan beat John Finster and Steve Harwell 21?2-1?2.
The lone win for the amateurs came from Brian Westveer and Scott McClellan, who defeated Curt Sanders and Tim Straub 21?2-1?2.
The professionals ended any hopes of a miraculous rally early Tuesday, winning the first four singles matches of the day.
Peck topped Taylor, George beat Westveer, Straub defeated Fuller 21?2-1?2, and Reid blanked Gurley 3-0.
Finster, a former State amateur champion, saved the amateurs from total defeat by winning 21?2-1?2 against Sanders, but Sullivan downed McClellan 21?2-1?2, and Isley slammed Harwell 2-1 before Anderson and Simson closed it down with a halve in their match.
George, the head professional at River Landing in Wallace, was playing in his second Tar Heel Cup.
"This has been exactly what I expected it would be," he said, "a lot of camaraderie and good competition. We're all trying to win, but we do it in a gentlemanly fashion."
Both of George's appearances have been at Pine Needles, a fact that doesn't bother him.
"This is definitely one of the best courses in the state," he said of the Donald Ross layout that will host its third U.S. Women's Open June 28-July 1. "It's in absolutely perfect condition, including the greens and the bunkers."
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