Brese blows by Roberts to win title
An infrequent tournament golfer, Durham's Alex Brese rode calm confidence to a big trophy on Sunday at Hillandale Golf Course.
Playing in the Herald-Sun Golf Classic for just the second time, Brese’s steady golf led him to a rousing 6 and 5 win over Matt Roberts in the Championship Flight final of the 68th Herald-Sun Classic.
“It’s a big deal,” Brese said. “I am glad to be playing well. It feels good to win. I haven’t really done this much.”
A rising sophomore at UNC Charlotte studying business, Brese said he plays two tournaments -- the Durham Amateur in May and the Herald-Sun Classic a month later.
Two years ago, the only other time he played the Herald-Sun, he reached the round of 16 before being eliminated in match play.
This year, he earned the No. 15 seed during qualifying and upset No. 2 seed Stephen Lavenets on Thursday to serve notice that more upsets were possible.
In Sunday’s final, No. 8 seed Roberts became Brese’s latest and final victim this year as Brese won seven consecutive holes to take control of the match.
“It was a good week,” Brese said. “I got hot when we started match play and I just tried to take that all the way.”
Brese, though, is first to admit that Roberts’ struggles off the tee played a factor in his victory.
Roberts led three holes to two as the duo headed to the sixth hole. Roberts, though, sent his tee shot off to the right into the bushes and wound up with a double-bogey.
Brese parred the hole and thus began his run of seven consecutive hole wins to take over the match.
A Roberts three-putt on the No. 7 hole allowed Brese to take the lead and his bogeys on the eighth and nine holes meant Brese took a 3-up lead at the turn.
“The swing wasn’t there,” Roberts said. “A little bit left, a little bit right. I kind of didn’t know where it was going. I’ve been relying on my short game all week. When you put that kind of pressure on your short game, one day it’s not going to show up and it didn’t today.”
Brese won the first three holes on the back nine to go 6-up before clinching the win when the golfers halved the No. 13 hole.
“He was struggling hitting it off the tee, so I was just out there trying to make pars and see if it would hold,” Brese said.
Said Hillsborough's Roberts, “You’ve got to give all the credit in the world to Alex. Fairways and greens is what he did. He deserved to win. He was the better golfer today.”
NOTE -- The tournament raised around $13,100 for Hillandale's H.E.A.R.T.S. club, which benefits Duke Hospital and its Pediatric Blood and Marrow Transplant Program. Herald-Sun Publisher Rick Bean presented a check for the amount following Sunday's championship rounds.