Shhh! Make sure your golf partner isn’t around, because here’s some inside information from the No. 15 seed in the Championship Flight of The Herald-Sun Golf Classic on how he rose from near the bottom of that division and kept hanging around to reach today’s title round:
“I’ve just been playing pretty consistent, hitting greens and just trying to make pars,” Durham’s Alex Brese, the next-to-last seed in the 16-player top flight, said after his 1-up semifinal win over Creedmoor’s Britt Mitchell at Hillandale Golf Course on Saturday.
It took 19 holes for Melvin Barnes and Matt Roberts, both from Hillsborough, to determine who’d battle Brese for the championship trophy.
“Neither one of us played good. It was kind of just a dig-deep kind of game, gut-wrenching,” Roberts said. “Both of us kind of kept the other one in it.”
Barnes knew it, too. After the 18th hole, he drove off in his golf cart lecturing to himself about how he’d just given one away.
Roberts pounced, finally burying a stubborn putt that lingered for a while before making up its mind to take the dive.
“It had the line the whole way, but I didn’t know if it was going to ever get to the hole,” Roberts said. “It just kind of looked like it barely just died in there, so I guess that’s what you want.”
Definitely. It was a birdie. Barnes couldn’t match it.
Brese and Roberts tee off at 10:32 a.m. today.
Roberts said he has to play much better today in order to get his hands on that trophy.
Brese said he’d “just try to make pars, see if that’ll get me the win.”
That guy’s playing some really solid golf, said Newt Barringer, who lightened Brese’s load by caddying for him.
Barringer knows Brese’s game. They were golf teammates at Riverside High School.
On a 90-degree Saturday, Mitchell felt the Brese who’s gotten it done all week.
“He got me 3-down early, and that was pretty tough to fight back from,” Mitchell said. “I got back from that, but then, of course, I went down 1 on 16.”
On 18, Mitchell used some nice bump-and-run action on the fringe to get close to the hole.
Then the ball teased him.
“Lipped out on 18 for birdie. It was a big ol’ horseshoe,” Mitchell said.
That’s how Brese made it from the back of his flight to first-class seating.
Brese’s run began in earnest Thursday during the first day of match play when he knocked off No. 2 Stephen Lavenets, both a friend and former Northern Knights golf foe.
Lavenets is on the golf team at East Carolina University.
Brese, 19, is a rising sophomore at UNC-Charlotte. He doesn’t play golf for the 49ers, but his performance at the classic at least suggests that he could’ve, perhaps should’ve.
“I don’t know,” Brese began reasoning. “It’s a lot of time, and I don’t know if I really want to be a walk-on and spend that much time playing golf. (I) just try to play in the summer.”
NOTES — Durham’s Garrett Hutson and Hillsborough’s Travis Byrd are the last ones standing in the President’s Flight, the tournament’s second tier. Those two tee off at 10:32 a.m. At 10 a.m., Cary’s Johnny Adams and Durham’s Abe Lewis tee off for the championship in the senior division.
68th annual Herald Sun Golf Classic
at Hillandale Golf Course
Saturday’s Semifinal Match-Play Results
Matt Roberts 1-up/19 over Melvin Barnes
Alex Brese 1-up over Britt Mitchell
Garrett Hutson 3&2 over Adam Hamlett
Travis Byrd 3&2 over Kevin Cheek
Robert Semler 4&3 over Robert Johnson
Nils Norgaard 7&6 over Darryl Naillon
Chad Bryant won by forfeit over Michael Burton
Chris Outland 2&1 over Kyle Garrett
Tim King 2&1 over Cedell Alexander
Wade Hamlett 5&3 over Ben Thomas
Phillip Ray 4&3 over Clark Green
David Perry 1-up/19 over Bryan Atkins
Derrick Sims 6&5 over Johnnie Bryant
Tim Simpson 6&5 over Gary Wheeley
Johnny Adams 4&3 over Cecil Lockley
Abe Lewis 1-up/20 over Lea Couch
Fred Avila 3&1 over Chris Filiaci
Bill Martinson 2&1 over Jerry Tucker
Today’s Championship Match Tee Times
(All matches begin on No. 1 tee)
Matt Roberts vs. Alex Brese, 10:32 a.m.
Garrett Hutson vs.Travis Byrd, 10:32 a.m.
Robert Johnson vs. Nils Norgaard, 10:24 a.m.
Chad Bryant vs. Chris Outland, 10:24 a.m.
Tim King vs. Wade Hamlett, 10:16 a.m.
Phillip Ray vs. David Perry, 10:16 a.m.
Derrick Sims vs. Tim Simpson, 10:08 a.m.
Johnny Adams vs. Abe Lewis, 10 a.m.
Fred Avila vs. Bill Martinson, 10 a.m.