Tar Heel Cup: Amateurs Put Good Scare Into Pros
When it was over and done, and the final scores had been posted, the result was the same -- the pros had defeated the amateurs again in the annual Tar Heel Cup.
But this time it was little different. This time there was some future hope for the amateurs. Sure, they had lost for the 13th time in 15 years, and they had come out on the short end of the score for the ninth straight time.
But no one was hanging his head this time. Even Jack Nance, the executive director of the Carolinas Golf Association and the man who has the biggest investment in the amateurs, was able to see a silver lining on a cloudy day at Pine Needles Lodge and Golf Club.
The final score showed that the eight-man professional team had hung a 7-5 whipping on the amateurs. But there was optimism in the losers' camp because of the play of some newcomers on the amateur team. And two of those rookies were battle-tested Sherrill Britt and 17-year-old Robert Hoadley.
Nance was impressed by the play of first-time team members.
"We had some new blood, and that's good," he said. "The only repeat players were Paul Simson and Brian Westveer, and I'm encouraged. If only one match each day had gone the other way, we would have been tied.
"Hoadley and Simson got drummed in four-ball, but Robert turned it around in singles. He came back and won big, got some vindication. And Britt won both of his matches. He's tough."
Britt, a West End resident who has won the Moore County Men's Amateur championship four times, picked up two points for the amateurs, combining with Uly Grisette, of Clemmons, for the team's only win in the Monday four-ball, then blitzing professional Cory Schneider, of Powell's Point, 5 and 4 in Tuesday's singles.
Hoadley wasn't that dominant, losing the
four-ball match 4 and 3 while teaming with veteran Paul Simson. But he came through in spades in singles, defeating Pinehurst professional Nate Olivo 4 and 3.
Hoadley and Simson dropped their Monday match to professionals Gus Ulrich, of Whispering Pines, and Schneider. But Hoadley, a senior at Union Pines High School, was far from disappointed with his first taste of golf on this level.
"It was unbelievable," he said. "I was shocked that I even got invited because I haven't had that great an amateur career."
The teams were chosen by a points system based on how they had fared in designated events during the 2008 season. Hoadley was picked because several players ahead of him on the points list were ineligible by virtue of being on college teams, a situation he'll be in himself next year.
"It was great playing with Mr. Simson in the four-ball," Hoadley said. "I was glad to be a part of it because it shows me what I have to do to get to their level."
Is it obvious yet from the way he conducts himself and talks that Hoadley is a product of The First Tee of the Sandhills program?
"We lost to Gus and Cory because they had great short games," Hoadley said. "The turning point came on the 12th hole when we all missed the green, and Gus got up and down to win from a horrible place. Mr. Simson and I both had easy up and down chances but we couldn't convert.
"Neither of our short games was sharp. We gave them a lot of gifts. You can't make three bogeys in this format."
Simson, who has won 17 CGA major championships, had nothing but praise for his young partner.
"Robert has a really good game," the 56-year-old Raleigh insurance executive said.
"He hits the ball a long way, and for his age and size he has a big game. He's the first high school player to play for us, and I think he'll have a good career at UNC-Greensboro."
Things change quickly in golf, however, and Hoadley's short game came around in the singles match against Olivo.
"The putting was the difference," the teenager said. "I hit the ball comparably, but on Monday I couldn't putt my way out of a paper bag."
When it was over, Hoadley savored the feeling.
"I knew it was going to be an experience," he said.
"Hanging out with these guys, talking to Scott Harvey (son of legendary amateur Bill Harvey), and Paul Simson -- going to Pebble Beach with The First Tee for three years in a row is something special -- but this ranks well up there. To be as young as I am and to be playing with guys of this caliber it's up there. I was so psyched up.
"This is something I want to be around, something I want to take in."
The results in four-ball saw Steve Isley, of Oak Island, and John Faidley, of Winston-Salem, defeat Westveer and Dan Hendrickson, of Charlotte, 3 and 2; Simon McGreal, of Greensboro, and Olivo defeat Harvey, of Greensboro, and Chris Eaves, of Burgaw, 3 and 2; Hoadley and Simson lose to Ulrich and Cory Schneider 4 and 3; and Britt and Grisette defeat Curt Sanders and Bill Anderson, of Wilmington, 2 and 1.
In singles, Anderson beat Simson 3 and 2; Ulrich topped Grisette 3 and 2; Isley beat Harvey 4 and 2; Hoadley defeated Olivo 4 and 3; Westveer defeated Faidley 2-up; McGreal defeated Hendrickson 3 and 2; Britt defeated Schneider 5 and 4; and Eaves defeated Sanders 1-up.a
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