Upstate Amateur Golf

Biershenk and Graham repeat at “The Earl”

Robbie Biershenk won his second straight title at “The Earl” and his second straight area Open tournament.

The friendly confines of Saluda Valley Country Club were especially cordial to a pair of golfers who had success on the course before.

The two winners of the Earl Wooten Memorial had repeat success, but both needed an extra hole to defend their titles.

Robbie Biershenk won “The Earl”  last year and followed it up with a second straight win this year.

Steve Graham claimed the senior division when he holed a bunker shot on the first playoff hole to win his second straight senior title at the event.

“It was more of a struggle today than it was last year,” said Robbie (Shank) Biershenk. “I was all over the golf course today, but my putter saved me,” he said.

Biershenk had opened a three shot lead over Mike Hartin after the first round. The lead evaporated quickly as Biershenk bogeyed the first two holes in the final round.

Mike Hartin shot two straight 2-under par rounds of 70, but came up short in a playoff.

While “Shank” struggled out of the gate Hartin played his usual solid game. He didn’t miss fairways and he made the putts he needed to shoot his second straight 2-under par round of 70.

Going to the final hole of regulation the two golfers had a different idea of each others scores. Biershenk thought he had a one shot lead, while Hartin knew that the two were even.

On the final hole both golfers had the opportunity to end the tournament. Biershenk had a 10 foot birdie putt. After saving him all round, his putter didn’t help and he pushed the birdie putt past the hole.

Hartin could win the tournament if he could sink an 8 footer for a birdie, but like Biershenk his putt also missed the hole and forced a playoff.

On the first hole both golfers his solid drives, but this time it was “Shank” who controlled his wedge and landed the ball 15 feet from the pin.

Hartin was well outside of Biershenk and converted a two putt par.

Biershenk lined up his 10 footer and drained it for the win. The victory was his second in a row in the tournament and his second win in an area Open event in August.

Robbie Biershenk gets the winner’s trophy at the Earl Wooten Memorial from club professional Eddie Martin.

“The greens here were fast and in perfect condition, if some of my putts had not gone in they would have rolled off the green, that is how slick it was putting,” said Biershenk.

After his opening round 5-under par 67 the defending champion struggled to close out the win.

“When I won at Boscobel everything just fell into place. This weekend it was a battle both days. I was really fortunate to win because Mike played so much better than I did,” said Biershenk.

The difference was on the greens as Biershenk rolled in four par putts of over 20 feet to stay even with Hartin and eventually win the playoff.

“I had seven bogeys and five birdies so it was not a good round, but I got the putts to fall when I needed them and that was what won it for me,” concluded Biershenk.

Steve Graham pitched his ball from the sand trap into the hole to win the Senior Division on the first playoff hole.

In the senior division it wasn’t a long putt or great tee shots that won the title for Steve Graham again.

The Saluda Valley Senior club champion got his second straight win in the Earl also in a playoff.

On the first extra hole Graham landed his approach shot in a green side bunker and with one swing the playoff was over.

“I hit it and it took one bounce and then two little ones and hit the flag stick and went in,” said Graham.

The birdie on the hole won the senior championship for Graham over Jim Barber who shot a final round 2-under par 70 to force the playoff.

This was the second chip in winner for Graham in area tournaments. A few years ago he did the same thing at Boscobel.

“It wasn’t in a playoff, but it was for the win,” said the Saluda Valley golfer who is called “Rat” by his friends at the club.

Jack Kauer shot rounds of 77 and 75 to win the Legends (Super-Senior) division title.

This year the tournament included a legends division and the first winner of the over 65 division was Jack Kauer. The Super-Senior champion shot rounds of 77 and 75 for a 152 total and a 9-shot win over Michale Dorch.

Tournament Flight winners included, Mens Division, First Flight – Robbie Biershenk, Second Flight – Blake Williamson, Third Flight – Perry Hartin, Fourth Flight – Joel Reynolds, Fifth Flight – Kerry King.

Senior Flight winners, First Flight – Steve Graham, Second Flight – Jim Barber, Third Flight – Charles Crumpton.

Legends Flight winners, First Flight – Jack Kauer, Second Flight – Dan Beacham, Thid Flight – Steve Petterson.

The tournament is held in memory of long time club member and sports star Earl Wooten. Wooten was an outstanding Textile League baseball and basketball player in his day.

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