Milestone Ahead: Hot Britt Wins Fourth Moore Men's Amateur
A fast start, a strong finish and a hot putter add up to a winning combination in most golf tournaments.
And Sherrill Britt used that formula to approach a historic achievement in the Moore County Men's Amateur Championship.
Britt, a 43-year-old West End resident who is in the process of starting a construction company, has built a well-deserved reputation as one of the best golfers in the Sandhills. And after capturing his fourth Moore County title last weekend, he's poised to put his name in the record books.
Only Steve Wright, a Scotland County resident who dominated the event a few years ago, has more wins with five.
The championship was held at the rejuvenated Southern Pines Golf Club, and Britt wasted no time proving his game was ready for the challenge of the Donald Ross course. He opened with a 64 on Saturday, sharing the lead with a hot John Romaine.
Playing a longer course on Sunday, Britt posted a 4-under-par 67, while Romaine shot 71. That allowed another multiple winner, Ryan Fox, of West End, to claim the runner-up spot as he posted rounds of 67-66 for a 133 total.
Still, Britt, a former club professional, was not completely satisfied with his game.
"I played 27 good holes," he said, "but I was just even par for the last nine."
Just even par was plenty good enough, giving him a two-shot margin over the charging Fox and five better than Romaine, who was playing in the final threesome.
"I shot 64, and the guy I was playing with shot 64," Britt said of the sensational opening round. "He had me by two shots with two to play Saturday. He finished with birdie, par, and I finished with birdie, eagle to catch him.
"The difference today was that he left some shots on the course and I didn't. I birdied the first three holes, and he came back with a birdie on the fourth hole. Then I made birdie on No. 6, and he bogeyed."
Romaine felt he didn't play as well as he could have Sunday but marveled at how well Britt putted.
"Sherrill birdied 1, 2 and 3 and all of a sudden I'm three down," he said. "He was making putts from everywhere. He made a bomb on the third hole from about 35 feet."
"Aw, that was just a tap-in," Britt countered with a grin. "It was downhill all the way. All I had to do was tap it."
Britt overpowered the course with seven birdies and an eagle Saturday, then came back with five birdies against a lone bogey Sunday.
"The course is in really good shape," he said. "You can see a lot of progress since Avestra came in to manage it, and they say it's going to be even better next year. I love this course; it was the second course I ever played. And the greens are in the best shape I've ever seen them."
Fox, a bank executive, has won twice and been runner-up to Britt twice, including last year.
"I figured I'd need a 64 today," a prophetic Fox said after his 66 left him two shots short. "This is Sherrill's home track and I knew I'd have to go low. It was good playing for me, but this was supposed to be my year to win. We had alternated the last four years."
William Carter (67-71) finished fourth. Daniel Neveau (70-69) was fifth. Craig Sturdivant (69-72) was fifth. Steve Lassiter, Peter Wilson and Will Pennell tied for sixth with 142.
Frank McBrayer, who opened with 66, fell back to 11th with an 80 on Sunday.
Chuck Cordell, of Pinehurst, won the senior division in a one-hole playoff against Ken Eichele, of Pinehurst, after they had tied at 143. Rod Breckheiser and Kevin Fink tied for third with 144.
Gary Strickfaden won the first flight with a playoff win over Russ Sweet after they had tied at 148. Carter Parry won the second flight with 158, while Chuck Wunsch and Rod Koons tied for second at 160. Bill Komniaki shot 170 to win the third flight, with Michael Petreau and Wayne Ricks sharing second with 171.
Tim O'Day, who shocked the field with an opening round 66, won the super senior division with 141, four shots better than Terry Collins. Scott Schwarz was third with 149.
Jerry Grant won the first flight with 155, followed by Fred Healy with 156 and Bob Thome with 157. Terry Daly won the second flight with 169. James Dockery was second at 170, and Mike Yelovich was third with 171.
A field of 124 players competed in the event, which has shown dramatic growth in the past three years. Proceeds were donated to The First Tee of the Sandhills.
The 2009 championship will be held at Legacy Golf Links Aug. 22-23.
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