Golf: Rowan Masters this weekend at Warrior
By Mike London
CHINA GROVE — The rolling terrain of Warrior has been a part of Rowan County golf since 1999, and the Rowan Masters tournament has built a tradition as one of the major summer events.
Qualifying rounds for the latest edition of the signature tournament held annually at Warrior have been completed. Match play starts on Friday and concludes Sunday.
The Rowan Masters is a tournament that is identified mostly with Keith Dorsett. The grandson of Rowan golf legend A.D. Dorsett, he has won eight times — 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2010, 2011, 2012 and 2017. Everyone else put together has won eight times — Ronnie Eidson and Matt Hardman twice each and Gary Miller, Phil Miller, Andrew Purcell and Nick Lyerly once each. The event couldn’t be held in 2018 due to course renovations, but it returned last summer.
Lyerly is the hottest golf name in the county currently. He has enjoyed tremendous college success at UNC Greensboro. He won the North Carolina Amateur Championship when he was a kid in 2016 and finished tied for third in that elite event at 6-under par with four consistent rounds in Raleigh last week.
Lyerly is the defending champion for this year’s Rowan Masters, and as the defending champ, he’s granted the top seed. A meeting of Lyerly and the fourth-seeded Dorsett in a semifinal is a possibility and would present a dream matchup for local golf.
The other top seeds are teenagers. Cannon School’s Charlie Barr, the No. 2 seed, was the qualifying medalist with a 71. Recent Salisbury High graduate Hank Robins shot 72 and is seeded third.
The first Rowan Masters in 2003 kicked the tournament off in grand style, with Dorsett and Richard Cobb providing most of the excitement.
Dorsett was seeded second that year and won routinely in the first two rounds.
But his quarterfinal matchup with Steven Harvey required 22 tense holes.
Dorsett won 4 and 3 against Ronnie Broome in a semifinal, while Cobb was beating Todd Johnson 5 and 4. Cobb, who had won the 1991 Rowan Amateur, was sensational in that semifinal and was 6-under after 14 holes.
The Dorsett vs. Cobb matchup was highly anticipated, and with good reason. Dorsett had to play brilliantly to win. He made only one mistake in his round, three-putting on No. 8.
Cobb was on the green in two on the par-5 No. 1 hole and birdied to take a quick lead.
Dorsett made an 8-foot birdie putt on No. 2 to level the match. After Dorsett eagled to take No. 3, he had the lead to stay, but Cobb stayed right with him.
Dorsett was up two holes going to No. 8, but that’s when his three-putt got Cobb close again.
Then things heated up.
Both golfers birdied No. 12. Both of them also birdied the 13th.
Dorsett took a two-hole lead to the 16th and clinched the match on that par-3. He put his tee shot safely on the green, while Cobb’s shot struck the edge of the green and caromed into the rough. Cobb couldn’t get up-and-down from there, and Dorsett’s par clinched the first of his long train of Rowan Masters titles.
Dorsett earned it. He played 5-under golf.
Dorsett and his brother, Michael, won the recently Grady B. McCanless 4-Ball Tournament, so he’s playing well coming into the latest installment of an event in which his success has become legendary.