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Fountain of youth taking over on the fairways

August 17, 2004|by TIM KOELBLE

Some leftover thoughts and notes from the 21st WACO golf championship this weekend:

One of the great things about the WACO championship is the range in age of participants, which stretches from junior golfers to seniors.

It seems the younger generation is about to take over the top rung, as seen by Kevin Reiber's come-from-behind drive to the championship on Sunday at Beaver Creek Country Club as he successfully defended his 2003 title.

Many in the gallery probably thought his charge was over when he three-putted the 11th hole for an 8 on his scorecard, going from 2 under par to 1 over and four behind John Kingora.

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However, Reiber - a 17-year-old senior at Waynesboro High School - composed himself and put three birdies on the board, including a clinching chip-in on the 18th hole that left him with a 3-under 69, the lowest final-round score in WACO history by a champion.

It was a wonderful day of golf, and having the opportunity to motor around the course following the leaders was exciting as golfers literally threw challenges back and forth at one another.

Kingora and David Barr, each playing in the WACO for the first time, held the upper hand early as they charged past 2002 champion Kenny Smith, the first-round leader.

Ken Kasai and Seth Moul were right up there, but they didn't have enough in the tank to withstand the Sunday pressure.

I was around the green at No. 17 watching Kingora and Smith when the roars from the gallery bellowed about as Reiber chipped in on 18. It was a quick dash to the cart to get to the 18th to catch up with Reiber and see the immediate joy he was experiencing, as he had to wait for the final two groups to come through.

I think there might have even been the beginning of a tear when the last putt of the tournament dropped and he was the repeat champion.

Nothing like two WACO titles to put on your resume.

While Reiber's victory can't be topped, one other item is noteworthy. David Bradshaw, of Harpers Ferry, W.Va., and the reigning West Virginia Open champion, was a late addition to the field Friday evening following the dropout of another entrant.

His first round Saturday was a forgettable - and painful - 76 that left him seven shots behind Smith.

On the par-5 15th hole, his second shot landed on the green within 10 feet of the hole. But when the playing group got to the green, his ball was nowhere to be found, forcing him to go back, take a penalty and hit again. Then, as he completed the hole, he was struck in the left hip area by an errant tee shot from the 18th.

Bradshaw bogeyed 15, then finished out with bogies on 16,17 and 18.

However, he was ready to fire away on Sunday and he ignored the tough pin placements and showed how he won the West Virginia Open with a WACO record-tying 5-under 67 that left him 1 under for the tournament and a threat down the stretch until Reiber decided things.

Behind the scenes


Tournament Director Rod Steiner has a great group working the WACO, starting with Beaver Creek professional Mark Weber down to the junior golfers who ride with the closing groups manning the up-to-date scoring signs.

One of those individuals was Dixie McNaney, who leads a group of ladies who take care of the scoring throughout the two days.

Unfortunately for Steiner and the WACO family, they've got to find another leader of the "tent pack," as McNaney completed her 20th and final year at scoreboard control.

Following the completion of the tournament, McNaney was presented with the WACO Sportsmanship Award.

Then there is Chris Martin, soon to be a senior at Williamsport High School. He loves golf, loves the WACO and it shows in his enthusiasm. The next time you see him you might as well call him "Rod Jr."

His ability to intermingle with the WACO staff, the players and others involved is cherishable. He also affords Steiner the opportunity to play in the tournament and things don't miss a beat while Martin surges around the course keeping track of things.

No doubt, if he chooses, he'll be in charge of WACO some day.




Tim Koelble is a staff writer for The Herald-Mail. His column appears every other Tuesday. He can be reached at 301-733-5131, ext. 2311, or by e-mail at koelble@herald-mail.com

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