BARNES RULES

Jun. 18, 2013 @ 10:42 PM

A streak of tremendous golf ended for Melvin Barnes on Tuesday.

But while his final stroke-play qualifying round at the 67th Herald-Sun Golf Classic didn’t measure up to his torrid pace, it was still better than anyone else in the field.

The 46-year-old Barnes, of Hillsborough, fired a 2-over-par 73. Couple that, with the 5-under 66 he shot on Monday, and he had the top overall score at 139 when play was halted due to rain at Hillandale Golf Course.

Barnes’ two-day total of 3-under 139 left him two shots better than Jeff Robinson, Fla., who finished at 1-under 141. Robinson, from Jacksonville, Fla., shot a 70 on Tuesday after firing a 71 on Monday.

Todd Eckstein finished third at even-par 142. Eckstein shot a 69 on Monday but, like Barnes, he wasn’t as precise on Tuesday as he shot a 73.

Five groups of players were unable to finish their second round due to rain. They will begin play at 6:30 a.m. today to finish their rounds.

After that stroke play will be done and the golfers will be divided into flights for match play, which also begins today. Golfers in the top two flights, Championship and Presidents, will play this morning while the rest of the field takes a day off.

All flights will be contested beginning Thursday with the champions crowned on Sunday.

By claiming medalist honors in stroke play, Barnes earned the No. 2 overall seed in the Championship Flight. As defending champion, Durham’s Ronnie Williams automatically earned the No. 1 seed according to tournament rules.

But it appears Barnes is in good position to make a run for the tournament championship in match play.

On Sunday, while playing at Durham’s Treyburn Country Club, Barnes shot a 69 during a bogey-free round. He followed that up with his 66 on Monday at Hillandale.

“I came over here pretty confident,” Barnes said. “I didn’t miss but two greens. I put it in two-putt land and I birdied all the par 5s.”

Barnes said he could have shot even lower on Monday, but he missed some putts.

On Tuesday, the same thing happened.

“If I make the putts today I shoot a 66 again,” Barnes said. “But it seems I can’t make the putts. I’m hitting it inside of 10 feet.”

For example, he three-putted the 14th that had been a routine birdie hole for the field on Monday.

Barnes double-bogeyed hole No. 2 at Hillandale to get off to a rough start on Tuesday. He played even par the rest of the day, bogeying No. 10 before making it up with his lone birdie on No. 18.

“I hit green on 18 and finally made a two-putt,” Barnes said.

The owner of Chief Roofing in Hillsborough, Barnes also plays on the Golf Channel Amateur Tour. He won a major tournament on that tour in January at TPC Sawgrass in Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla., in addition to winning six other tournaments in the Carolinas section.

He has qualified for the Golf Channel Am Tour’s national championship tournament in Palm Springs, Calif., Sept 22-25.

“I’ve been hitting it well,” Barnes said. “I just haven’t been putting too well.”

Eckstein entered Tuesday in second place, three shots behind Barnes, but wasn’t able to close any ground.

“I would say I didn’t putt very well today,” Eckstein said. “I gave myself a lot of good looks at birdies. I hit a lot of greens in regulation, but I couldn’t make a putt.”

Tuesday’s lowest round was carded by Jonathan Price. He shot 67, a good bit better than his 77 on Monday.

“I was making a lot of putts for birdies and pars and just doing a lot better at hitting the fairways and hitting the greens,” Price said. “I’ve played this course so many times when I was younger.”

Price recently graduated from Granville Central High School, and he’s headed to Methodist University in Fayetteville, where he envisions himself playing golf for the school but is more certain about his course of study there in a program that would prepare him to become a head golf pro.

Price, thick and burly, said he gave up — to the chagrin of his coaches — the more dangerous sport of football in order to take on the challenges of golf.

“My dream was to be an NFL player, and then I just kind of went through a switch through high school to focus on golf,” Price said.

— Staff Writer John McCann contributed to this article.