Classic Notebook: Talent abounds in lower flight title matches
It was all a dream a week ago, the thought of walking away from Hillandale Golf Course as one of the champions of the 67th Herald-Sun Golf Classic.
It’s still a dream for those who’ve survived and advanced. All but a handful today will wake up with the dream deferred.
The Championship and Presidents flights will warrant plenty of attention, but there’s some solid golf to be played in the lower flights, too.
In the first flight, Creedmoor’s Cecil Lockley will go head-to-head with Stem’s Macon Tunstall.
Eddie Ball and Brad Pittman, both of Durham, will swing against each other in the second flight.
Flight No. 3 features Morrisville’s Richard Wagner and Oxford’s Corey Johnson.
Clark Green and Jasiel de Oliveira, both of Durham, will compete for a championship in the fourth flight while Durham’s Cedell Alexander and Rougemont’s Casey Ellis do battle in the fifth flight.
All of those matches tee off on hole No. 1 between 10 a.m. and 10:20 a.m.
NCCU CLASSIC TIES
Former N.C. Central golf coach Pete Hayes showed up this week at the classic, where one of his former Eagles golfers, Chris Winters, managed to get past the tournament’s top qualifier.
Winters beat No. 2 overall seed Melvin Barnes in the first round of match play on Wednesday. Barnes, from Hillsborough, pulled a muscle in his chest that morning on the driving range, and wasn’t at his best, but it was a win for Winters nonetheless.
Cary’s Ashley Berry ended Winters’ tournament 6 and 5 on Thursday.
Hayes said he recruited Winters from Southern High where Winters was shooting in the mid- to upper-70s. But he got better playing at NCCU, Hayes said.
“He improved each year,” Hayes said.
Hayes, 80, took time out at Hillandale to journey down memory lane. He recalled how he was among those who helped integrate the golf course, where he caddied and played.
“The caddies played on Monday,” Hayes recalled, remembering how he’d hit with members’ sticks. “They used to let us borrow their clubs,” he said of the membership.
Back in the day, Hayes was a wide receiver, kicker and return man for the NCCU football team and earned a spot in the school’s sports hall of fame. He recalled a game against Morgan State University in which he scored two touchdowns and kicked both extra points. Hayes said no Eagle has duplicated that feat.
“I never remember a running back or wide receiver kicking,” Hayes said. “We beat them 14-6.”
NCCU sports information director Kyle Serba was unable to confirm Hayes’ said heroics.
Hayes said he graduated from Hillside High School and spent time playing baseball in the Baltimore Orioles farm system.
A PRO PIONEER
Fran James is a golf pioneer, too. She is Hillandale’s first female golf pro — she's the club's director of instruction — who loves what she does and has the tan to prove it.
Durham always has been home for James, who started playing golf at Willowhaven Country Club — Umstead Pines Golf and Swim Club since 2007 — when she was 6. She was the first girl to play on the boys’ golf team at Northern High School.
James went to Marshall University on a golf scholarship, eventually joining the LPGA in 1993 and becoming a Class A member in 1999.
James coaches the girls’ and boys’ golf teams at the N.C. School of Science and Mathematics and is a three-time Carolina 12 1-A/2-A Conference coach of the year.
But James deferred the credit. NCSSM is a two-year boarding school with a reputation for strong academics, attracting some of the state’s top high school minds.
In other words, NCSSM golfers are very heady players, to say the least, James said.
Herald-Sun Golf Classic
Sunday’s Championship Tee Times and Flight Pairings
10:30 — Todd Eckstein vs. Jeff Robinson
10:30 — Kevin Cheek vs. Newt Barringer
10:20 — Macon Tunstall vs. Cecil Lockley
10:20 — Brad Pittman vs. Eddie Ball
10:10 — Richard Wagner vs. Corey Johnson
10:10 — Jasiel de Oliveira vs. Clark Green
10 a.m. — Casey Ellis vs. Cedell Alexander
Saturday’s Semifinal Results
Jeff Robinson d. Tim Garrett 2-up
Todd Eckstein d. Jay Robinson 3&2
Kevin Cheek d. Abe Lewis 2&1
Newt Barringer d. Clay Watkins 9&7
Cecil Lockley d. Destin Barnes 1-up
Macon Tunstall d. Charles Hooker 2&1
Eddie Ball d. John Pittman 5&4
Brad Pittman d. John Synan 1-up (19 holes)
Corey Johnson d. Richard Penny 7&6
Richard Wagner d. Tim King 1-up
Jasiel de Oliveira d. Joe Gucker (forfeit)
Clark Green d. Keith Johnson 1-up
Casey Ellis d. Gary Wheeley 6&5
Cedell Alexander d. Cliff Cox 5&3