Vintage victory: Fanning, Benton win 1st Kiwanis title since 2007

Scott Schlaufman Sports Editor

August 20, 2013

LUMBERTON — As Dyrck Fanning looked up his tee time for the 36th annual Kiwanis All-American Golf Tournament, he knew it had been a few years since he last took home one of the blue blazers awarded to the winner of the championship flight.

Just how long it had been since he and teammate Scott Benton were at the top of the standings surprised him.

“We won back-to-back and I told Scott I thought was like 2009 or 2010,” Fanning said. “When I got to looking it was 2006 and 2007. I told Scott I didn’t realize it’d been six years. It’s been a while.”

Playing in the second-to-last-group of the day, Benton and Fanning broke the six-year winless streak on Sunday, shooting a 10-under-par 62 in the final round to finish at 17-under-par 127 over the two day span. They used balanced play to beat John Haskins and Larry Cloninger by three strokes and day-one leaders Jamie Locklear and Neal Locklear by four.

Defending champions Keith McGirt and Mark Lassiter shot a 66 to finish at 11-under-par 133 at the annual fundraiser for the club, which donates money from the tournament back to organizations in the community that help children.

“(Dyrck) played great on the front side, I helped out on the back, it was just a good team effort today,” Benton said.

Throughout the course, Fanning and Benton improved on their numbers from the day before.

Benton said the start and finish of their round was similar to the opening day, the difference was how they played on holes on the course’s middle holes.

“We got off to almost the same start we did (Saturday),” Benton said. “We were 5 under after eight (holes) but instead of making bogey on Nos. 9 and 10 today, we birdied 9 and parred 10, so that got us going and we just played really solid on the back.”

The duo’s score of 30 on the front nine was the lowest nine-hole score of the tournament, regardless of flight.

Fanning said a key stretch came right after the turn when the two failed to birdie No. 11, but instead got a birdie from Benton on No. 12.

“It’d be real easy to get flat right there, but when he made that on 12, we got going there,” Fanning said.

The two eventually closed out the round with birdies on Nos. 15, 17 and 18. On Saturday, they had birdied Nos. 16, 17 and 18.

Despite the round, many eyes were on the group behind them, which included the two Locklears, Haskins and Cloninger.

Haskins said he knew Fanning and Benton were capable of making a comeback.

“I thought those were the guys to look out for. They can get it going,” Haskins said.

With the win, Benton and Fanning have now combined to win eight Kiwanis championships. In addition to their three as a team, Benton won in 2000 with Phillip Wallwork. Fanning and Don Williamson combined for four titles, in 1987 and a three-peat from 1992 until 1994.

Haskins said he was happy with how he and Cloninger played.

“I thought we played solid,” Haskins said. “I don’t feel like we lost it, I felt like (Benton and Fanning) won it.”

Haskins and Cloninger entered the day in second place after trailing the two Locklears by one stroke following Saturday’s round.

They shot a 2-under-par 34 on the front nine, which put them in a tie with Jamie and Neal midway through the round.

As the tie continued between the teams, it wasn’t until the group was on No. 17 that word got to them about Fanning and Benton’s 62.

“We didn’t realize how well they were playing until we were on the fairway on 17,” Haskins said. “Then it came down to playing for second place.”

On the 17th, second place was decided when Haskins made a birdie putt.

After shooting a 9-under on the first day, Jamie Locklear and Neal Locklear struggled on front nine, shooting a 1-under 35. They eventually recovered a bit, with both team members chipping in for eagle on No. 11, and finished the round at 4-under-par 68.

Jamie Locklear said both team members struggled to find the fairway, which caused the majority of his team’s problems.

“We couldn’t get any momentum going today,” he said.

The two Locklears were ultimately happy with how they finished the weekend.

“It was a strong field and out of 88 teams, we came in third, so we feel pretty good about that,” Jamie Locklear said.