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Reiber cashes chip to retain WACO title

August 16, 2004|by TIM KOELBLE

koelble@herald-mail.com

It didn't reach the magnitude of Bob Tway's bunker shot to win the 1986 PGA or Larry Mize's miracle chip for the 1987 Masters title.

However, it will rank as one of the finest moments in Washington County golf history.

Kevin Reiber, who started the day four strokes off the pace, holed a 30-foot chip on No. 18 to propel himself to victory in the 21st WACO golf championship on Sunday at Beaver Creek Country Club, becoming the second player ever to defend his title.

There was no quit in Reiber, who overcame a triple-bogey on No. 11 to fall from 2-under to 1-over and four shots back of John Kingora and David Barr.

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He rebounded with an immediate birdie on 12 and shaved another stroke on 15 before finishing with his winning chip on 18 to finish with a final-round 69 and a two-day total of 2-under 142 to best Kingora and David Bradshaw by one stroke.

"This win is so much better than last year, especially doing it this way," said Reiber, who had to watch two more threesomes finish play, including Kingora and first-round leader Kenny Smith, before he officially claimed the crown. "You gotta have some breaks along the way to win two years in a row."

The breaks weren't in his favor when he hooked a tee shot into the trees on par-5 No. 11 and had to manufacture a short second shot. He came up short with his third shot and needed two more chips out of the short grass before he could putt out.

"I said it wasn't the first 8 I've ever had and won't be the last," Reiber said. "You just have to hang at it and stay positive. It would have been so easy to quit."

Reiber, who will be a senior at Waynesboro High School, hit a 3-iron off the tee at 18, followed by a wedge to the front fringe, but the ball rolled backwards.

"I had a good line on the shot," Reiber said. "In fact, (playing partner Dennis Stoner) even had mentioned back on 14 that I hadn't chipped in a shot yet."

Before Sunday, no one had carded a sub-70 round on the WACO's final day. Reiber recorded the best finishing round by a champion, and it still wasn't the best of the day.

Bradshaw, the Shepherd College senior and West Virginia Open champion, scored a superb 5-under 67 to tie the WACO single-round record to come back from Saturday's opening-round 76 and challenge for the title. Bradshaw was a late entry to the tournament on Friday.

"The thing that was weird today was my wedge was working," said Bradshaw, who lost a stroke with a lost ball and closed with four bogeys on Saturday. "The par 5s got me today. ... I was just 1-under on them."

Smith started the day with a two-stroke lead over Seth Moul, Ken Kasai, Barr and Kingora, but suffered back-to-back bogeys on Nos. 6 and 7, before coming back with a pair of birdies and giving back the strokes with two closing bogeys for a 3-over 75 and two-day total of 144, good for sole position in third place.

"I didn't make any putts - I had 36 today - my irons were good. ... It just wasn't to be," said Smith, who is a close good friend of Reiber's. "If anyone is going to win like that, I'm glad it was Kevin."

Kingora, from Waynesburg, Pa., had the lead at 3-under despite playing Beaver Creek for the first time when he made an unlikely birdie on the par-5 No. 9. His second shot landed to the right of two trees on the tee box at No. 1, but he calmly put a sand wedge five feet from the hole.

Kingora, Smith and Barr each eventually fell prey to errant shots and tough pin placements while Reiber was making the most of a dramatic comeback - a second WACO title before he graduated from high school.

Pat Steiner, with 80-76-156 and Dave Bingamin, with 81-75-156, were co-winners of the second flight; Glen Kline won the third flight with an 86-78-164 and Richard Murray won the fourth flight with 91-85-176.

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