First Posted: 8/19/2012
LUMBERTON — From the playground to the high school hallways and beyond, Fairmont natives Keith McGirt and Mark Lassiter have shared a laundry list of memories together.
“We’ve know each other since about the time we got out of diapers,” McGirt said.
“Keith’s a longtime friend, we grew up together,” Lassiter said. “We played on the same high school team … we’ve done just about everything together.”
Winning a county golf tournament can be added to the list.
McGirt and Lassiter edged the tandems of Dyrck Fanning/Scott Benton and John Haskins/Larry Clonginger in a playoff to claim championship honors of the 35th annual Kiwanis All-American Golf Tournament on Sunday at Pinecrest Country Club. It took three playoff holes to decide the winners, secured by McGirt who buried a four-foot birdie putt to give him and Lassiter each their first Kiwanis victories.
Fanning and Benton have a combined nine Kiwanis wins and Haskins and Clonginger were the 2009 champs.
“Man, it feels great,” Lassiter said. “To be in a playoff with a team that’s got nine or ten wins between them. Playing against two guys we grew up watching, role models, Scott and Dyrck, those guys are great … Coach Haskins and Larry have won … It’s just amazing. We’re really lucky.”
Lassiter took runner-ups with teammate Benton at last year’s rain-shortened Kiwanis, falling to winners Jeff Wishart and Mark Kinlaw in a playoff.
“After the heartbreak last year, to be able to come out on top, it’s something special, and with my longtime childhood friend,” Lassiter said.
The winning tandem were two shots back with a 66 after Saturday’s first round, which was led by three teams at 64 — Benton/Fanning, Brad Locklear/Phillip Wallwork and Bruce Mullis/Yarnell Locklear. The pairs of Brad Locklear/Wallwork and Yarnell Locklear/Mullis fell back in round two, finishing at 133 and 135, respectively.
Lassiter and McGirt, meanwhile, kept their pace with another 66 after Sunday’s 18 holes to stand deadlocked at 132 strokes with Fanning/Benton (64-69) and Haskins/Clonginger (67-65), yielding the three-team playoff.
The trio of teams were even across the board after playoff holes No. 1 and 2, though McGirt nearly sunk a winning birdie on 2. His five-foot putt appeared destined for the cup before lipping out, sending the teams on to tee No. 3.
“I hit a good putt on the second hole and it just lipped out,” McGirt said.
McGirt, however, wasn’t fazed.
“I went on to the third hole and knew we were still in it, it wasn’t over,” he said. Proving as much, McGirt hit an especially pinpoint second shot from the fairway on 3, one that sailed 129 yards and planted just feet from the flag. “I hit a perfect pitching wedge for me. It landed about three feet past the hole and spun back to about for free from the hole.
“I told myself before I hit that putt, you’re going to make this putt — and fortunately I did.”
Lassiter was confident his partner would carry them to the winner’s circle.
“He toted me in the playoff,” Lassiter said. “I’m proud of him. He hit the ball great … To be able to win one of Robeson County’s biggest tournament together is pretty awesome.”
Added McGirt: “To go out there and have fun and win this tournament together, it’s a real honor.”
Benton and Fanning finished as the runner-ups in the championship flight, followed by Jamie Locklear and Neal Locklear in third (65-68). Haskins and Clonginger took first in Flight 1.
Reach Sports editor Kaleb Roedel at 910-272-6111 or [email protected]