Rich takes Durham Am title in final try
Dalton Rich had finished second, third and fourth in a half-dozen previous appearances at the Durham Amateur Tournament.
In his last chance to win the event before he turned pro, the 23-year-old Durham native finally took home the top prize.
Rich carded a 1-under 141 over two days and defeated Raleigh resident Brandon Reece on the first playoff hole to finish atop the 42-player field Sunday at Hillandale Golf Course.
“It’s awesome, especially being my last Amateur,” Rich said. “It was meant to be, I guess.”
Rich, who played for two years at Barton College and currently works at Treyburn Country Club, said he will be turning pro in order to pursue a career in Professional Golf Management. His father, Donnie Rich, is a machinist and technician at The Herald-Sun.
Dalton Rich, Reece and 2011 champion Jason Garrett entered the second day tied for first at 1-over 71, but Rich took the lead with an eagle on No. 14 when his approach shot got within 4 feet of the cup. Reece caught up to Rich with a 40-foot birdie putt on No. 16, and both players parred the final two holes to force a playoff.
Rich calmly sunk a par putt on No. 1, while Reece’s par putt from about 10 feet lipped out. Reece, who was playing in the tournament for the first time, also missed a similar putt on 18 that could have won the tournament.
“Just another thing to build on,” said Reece, a West Virginia native who played golf for the University of Charleston. “Obviously, I didn’t win, but it will pay off one day. You just keep putting yourself in that position and putting yourself under pressure, and I feel you get better and better each time.”
Tim Garrett and Stephen Lavenets Jr. tied for third, shooting ever-par 142.
Garrett, whose sons Jason and Jack also competed, had the lowest one-round score in the tournament with a 68 on Sunday. He was 1-over on the turn but eagled No. 14 and then birdied 17 and 18.
“In this game, you just can’t give up,” Garrett said. “You just have to keep plugging along, and sometimes good things happen, sometimes they don’t.”
Lavenets just completed his freshman season at East Carolina. He said his grades were better than his golf and wasn’t playing his best coming in, but the Northern High School graduate birdied three of his final four holes to get within one of the leaders.
“It was so fun to get the nerves running through the body and trying to catch the guys behind me,” Lavenets said.
Reigning champion John Gaddy couldn’t duplicate his final-round 63 from a year ago, shooting a 74 and finishing eight shots off the lead.
“Couldn’t get it going this time around,” said Gaddy, a physical education teacher at Hillsborough’s Central Elementary School. “When you don’t play (often), it’s erratic. Some days it can be 63, and some days it can’t. It’s why I don’t do it for a living.”
NOTE — Between $5,000-6,000 was raised for the tournament's charities, the Ronald McDonald House and the H.E.A.R.T.S. Club at Hillandale.