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Reiber - 'Everyone is going to be gunning for my hide'

Two-time defending champ aims to make WACO history

Two-time defending champ aims to make WACO history

August 12, 2005|by TIM KOELBLE

koelble@herald-mail.com

When Kevin Reiber tees off at 11:50 Saturday morning, he will begin his quest to go where no other golfer in WACO Championship history has been.

The Towson University-bound Reiber will try to become the first to win three consecutive titles when the 22nd WACO Open unfolds at Beaver Creek Country Club as 186 hopefuls take to the links for the two-day extravaganza.

"I don't think there is any added pressure, but I know everyone is going to be gunning for my hide," said Reiber, who rallied with a nifty chip on the 18th hole to claim the trophy last year.

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He held off the likes of Kenny Smith, John Kingora and David Bradshaw, who fired a closing 5-under-par 67 to push Reiber last year. All will be in line again Saturday, aiming to knock Reiber off the championship stand.

Also in the field are three-time champion Greg Henry (1984, 1986, 1989), and two-time champion Chuck Ingram (1991, 1998).

Alan Zimmerman, currently on the Nationwide Tour, is the only other player to win back-to-back titles in 1996 and '97.

Reiber, who qualified for the USGA Amateur later this month, said he is ready.

"I had some hiccups at the (Pa.) amateur, but I played real well in the USGA qualifier," said Reiber, who had rounds of 82-66-79. "I got some confidence back and my goal is to play well in the WACO. If I play well and don't win, at least I know I will have played well and it will be a tuneup for the Amateur."

Reiber holds the tournament record of 3-under-par 144. He said he thinks the winning score will continue to slide further under par.

"You used to have trouble everywhere, but with the equipment, you can hit past all the trouble now at Beaver Creek," said Reiber. "I'm not sure you'll ever see a score over par win again at Beaver Creek."

Long, accurate drives over the 6,900-yard layout can lead to short irons and in many instances, wedges to the greens for birdie possiblities.

Henry, the golf coach at Boonsboro High School, said he thinks the tournament field is amazing.

"You hear all about the Reibers and the Smiths that are on top of their games, but I really think the field is so strong that 40 to 50 golfers have the chance to win," said Henry. "I'm confident and if my short game holds up, I can do pretty well."

Henry credits his resurgence to the prep golfers he coaches.

"In a way the kids have helped me out," he said. "As you teach them you really start thinking of the things you want them to do and then you go and work on it yourself and it has helped."

Tournament director Rod Steiner said Henry, despite a 16-year drought since his last WACO title, can be a solid contender.

"I'd say Kenny Smith is a main concern, but Greg has been playing real well lately and he could sneak up on some people," said Steiner, who also rates Bradshaw and Chad Bricker as contenders.

With weekend temperatures expected to climb into the mid-90s, the landing areas on an already-stressed course will prove difficult. Steiner said players will play their ball "down" even if it comes to rest in a non-grassy area.

"It's summer rules and it will be a challenge," he said. "Combine that with green speeds and difficult pin positions, shots will need to be premium shots.

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