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Reiber wins one for the ages

August 11, 2003|by TIM KOELBLE

koelble@herald-mail.com

If he comes down off Cloud Nine in time to play in today's Tri-State Junior Golf Championship, Waynesboro's Kevin Reiber is the likely favorite after the 16-year-old captured the 20th WACO Open championship at Beaver Creek Sunday.

Tied with golf buddy Kenny Smith, of Waynesboro, entering the final round following 4-under par 68s Saturday, Reiber put up a self-defense screen on the back nine to ward off several comers in the heat of battle.

Not until the final putt of the tournament on the par-4, 370-yard 18th hole did Reiber clinch the title, letting out a sigh of relief as the gallery cheered the youngest champion in WACO history.

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"With all these people watching here today, I really can't feel how I do feel right now," Reiber said. "On 18, this was the most absolute nervous I have ever been. Sometime I might come out of the clouds."

Reiber posted a 1-over par 73 and ended with a 3-under 141 for the tourney, one stroke batter than Smith, who had a 74 Sunday and two-day total of 142. For his efforts, Reiber received a huge trophy and a $500 gift certificate, putting his name in a long list of money winners in the WACO.

Boonsboro boys basketball coach Chuck Ingram, a two-time WACO champion, carded an even-par 72 for third place at 144. Ken Lampard and Randy Barnes tied at 144 and Bob Lentz was next at 145. Each player took turns throwing darts at Reiber but failed to hit the bull's-eye.

"I was a little more relaxed teeing off than I thought I would be," Reiber said. "Playing with Kenny again - we kept each other going, rooting for each other."

Reiber's lone hiccup of the day came on 13, a 353-yard par 4, when he hook his tee shot, hit a branch on his wedge, then chipped into a bunker and two-putted for a double bogey that dropped his three-stroke lead to one over Smith and Lampard.

One group ahead, Ingram chipped in for a birdie on 14 and then posted a bird on 15 to go to 2 under. Reiber watched Smith birdie 15 while he two-putted from a close-in putt off the fringe for a par.

Randy Barnes, playing with Ingram and Lampard, posted a 2 under through 16 while Lampard's driver began to fail, eventually turning his numbers into black.

Smith, who took a bogey on the par-3 16 while Reiber made a nice par, came back with an in-your-face birdie on 17 with a great iron shot that left him with a 15-foot downhill putt that got him back to 2 under with one to go.

Smith went for broke with a drive and nailed his shot 260 yards to the right cuff while Reiber went for accuracy and drove a 3-iron that left him with a 170-yard seven-iron second shot, which he firmly entrenched on the green.

An excellent approach by Smith left him with a makeable 20-footer, which slid to the left of the cup, eventually getting a par.

Reiber, who slid his 35-footer 3 feet past the cup, calmly knocked in the winner and provided a mile-wide smile after hoisting his arms into the sun-drenched skies.

"I was concerned after the double (bogey) on 13," Reiber said. "Then I really got concerned after the two-putt on 15. That's Sunday golf - it's always tougher."

Mike Kauffman won Flight 2 with a 74 that produced a two-day total of 156, three shots better than Kevin Peterson.

Buddy Summerville and Steve Stitely shared Flight 3 laurels, as each shot 82 and ended with 167.

Ron Watkins came back from a first-round 94 to tally an 82 and win Flight 4 with a 176, one shot better the Todd Parks.

Beaver Creek professional Mark Weber unveiled the Rod Steiner Sportsmanship Award, named for WACO's tournament director. Three-time WACO champion and money leader Greg Henry was named the initial recipient.

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