Rummells Beats Vertigo to Win Kelly's Classic
Dave Rummells wasn't quite sure how strong his golf game was going to be when he teed off Tuesday for the first round of the Sunbelt Senior Tour's Kelly's Classic at Whispering Woods Golf Club.
Rummells was suffering from a bout with vertigo, and everything hinged on how the medication worked. Trying to play tournament-class golf when your balance makes you feel that you're walking across a rope bridge can be hazardous to your score.
So all Rummells did was go out and shoot 66-68-67 -- 201 and claim a two-stroke win over runner-up Tim Conley.
"It's been a strange year," Rummells, a Cedar Rapids, Iowa, native said. "I haven't had a lot of good things happen so far. My son has been ill, and in March I was diagnosed with vertigo. Then just last week I had to have my wisdom teeth cut out."
That's not the kind of things you want to be dealing with as you head into tournament competition, but Rummells, who spent five years on the PGA Tour and now plays on the Champions Tour, seems to have weathered the storm.
"I'm not really surprised that I was able to play well," he said. "I've been playing some pretty good golf and it's just a matter of putting. The putting comes and goes.
"The greens were a little slower here than they are on the Champions Tour, and the bad news was that I didn't have the putter I needed for slow greens. But the good news was that I was hitting my approach shots close and I didn't make a bogey over the last two days."
Rummells earned $8,000 for the win as he became only the third champion in the six-year history of the event. Bill Anderson won the first two years and Gene Jones, now on the Champions Tour, won the last three.
Anderson, playing in the super seniors division for the first time at age 56, was almost sheepish about accepting his winning check of $2,400 after shooting 65-66-70 -- 201.
"I hadn't played in five months because I've taken a job with Tomi Putting System," said Anderson, who lives in Covington, La. "So I didn't have any idea what was going to happen and I didn't need the stress of trying to compete in the regular division.
"I figured I'd be better off jumping in slow and my approach was just to hit it in the fairways and on the greens and then go on to the next stop."
Anderson won by 10 strokes over runner-up T.R. Jones who was at 211.
"It was a very relaxing tournament for me," Anderson said. "I've never had a nine-shot lead going into the final round before."
Gary Hallberg, the former Wake Forest University and PGA Tour player, make a strong showing early with rounds of 64-69 but soared to a 74 on Thursday and finished sixth to win $1,200.
"This wasn't a very good day," Hallberg said. "I didn't make one putt and I was getting too much spin on approach shots so I wasn't getting anything close."
Hallberg turns 50 later this month and is anxious to join the Champions Tour.
"I'm looking forward to that," he said. "I'll play in the first one they have in June."
Rummells, who was traveling to Birmingham, Ala., where he's attempting to qualify for a Champions Tour event on Monday, enjoys visiting the Sandhills.
"This was a great event again this year," he said. "It's always one of the better ones we have on the Sunbelt Tour and we enjoy coming here. This is a perfect course for me because you don't have to hit it far, just hit it straight. I hit a lot of 3-woods this week because you have to be in the fairway here."
Stuart Taylor, the host professional and general manager of Whispering Woods who has been instrumental in bringing the tournament here, gives all the credit for the event's success to the benevolence of Joe Kelly, who contributes to the purse and hosts a pre-tournament pro-am that benefits youth in the area.
"For six years running, Joe has been the title sponsor," Taylor said. "Mr. Kelly is just a down-to-earth Irishman who loves kids and enjoys letting people into his life."
Kelly doesn't like the spotlight, but admits that he enjoys doing things to benefit young people, especially through involvement with the Boys and Girls Club of N.C.
"The main thing is the kids," he said. "It's exciting to be fortunate enough to help them out. I'd really like to see the community get behind the Boys and Girls Club.
"I got involved at Whispering Woods because I've been a member since 1996 and Stuart Taylor is a great guy who works hard for junior golfers."
Rummells' team also won the pro-am on Monday with a score of 133 in the two net best-ball format. His amateurs were Ron Myers, Reagan Parsons and Susan Clift Brown, one of the event's co-sponsors.
The team of Lana Schempp, Greg Hayes, Sherry Gaultney and Tod Brown was second with 119.
More like this story