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Caron holds on for title

June 16, 2003|by TIM KOELBLE

koelble@herald-mail.com

Young Steve Caron got an idea what it's like to face some pressure on the golf course. He may have likened it to the back nine on Masters Sunday or the U.S. Open.

The 20-year-old built a nine-stroke advantage through the opening nine on Sunday and then withstood nerves and a challenge from Kirk Lombardi to register a three-stroke victory in the Fourth Annual Black Rock Championship.

Caron, after dazzling the field with a 7-under-par 65 on Saturday, carded a 1-over 73, still good enough for a tournament-record 148.

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The Waynesboro, Pa., resident collected $400 for the win, his first cash prize from competitive golf.

"I was pretty nervous starting today," Caron said. "I just wanted to play my type of game hole-by-hole. I didn't want to be too relaxed."

Lombardi, from Gaithersburg, Md., shot a steady 71 Sunday to record a 141, but it was his birdie barrage on the back nine that made things as close as the final outcome.

Caron started quickly with birdies on the first two holes and came in with a 34 while Lombardi struggled with a 38. Kevin Reiber, second after a 69 Saturday, couldn't find the putting touch and fell 10 strokes behind at the turn.

Thinks got a little hairy on holes 10 and 11 as Caron bogeyed both holes and Lombardi rammed in birdie putts for a four-shot swing.

"I didn't really know I was up nine at the turn," Caron said, not looking at a scorecard other than his. "I cut a drive on 10 and did the same thing on 11. But the birdie putt on 13 - I really didn't expect to make that putt."

After each parred 12, Caron twisted in a 20-footer for birdie from above the 13th hole while Lombardi lipped out and ended up three-putting for bogey, lifting the margin back to seven.

Caron bogeyed 15 and then Lombardi made a pair of birdies at 16 and 17. Only a clutch par-saving putt by Caron on 17 kept the lead at four strokes.

On 18, Caron had a bogey following an off-line drive, leaving the final margin at three strokes.

"That turned out to be a clutch putt on 17 that got me there," Caron said. "I thought the pin placements were in some pretty tough spots."

Lombardi might well have put more pressure on Caron than he did as two other birdie opportunities lipped out on the back nine.

"We were just so far behind him it was really tough." Lombardi said. "We were just out there having some fun today."

Defending champion Chuck Ingram shot even par to finish at 149 and in the middle of the pack in the Championship Flight.

Tim Doreen, of Middletown, Md., captured the First Flight win and $300, posting a 75 after an opening 76. He edged Matt Sullivan by one stroke.

Dean Hamburg, of Hagerstown, took home $250 for the title in the Second Flight.

After a first-round 84, Hamburg came back with an 11-stroke improvement for a 73 and 157 total, one shot better than John Sanicola, who had a 74 after an opening 84.

Steve Everly, of Martinsburg, W.Va., won $275 as the top finisher in the Third Flight with rounds of 89-84 for 183, four strokes better than Bob Alton and Terry Haugh.

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