LUMBERTON — After climbing the leaderboard for two rounds at the Robeson County Golf Championship, Greg Powell made his winning move on Sunday.
Powell finished at 8 under after carding a 70 in the third and final round of the Championship Division tournament at Pinecrest Country Club to win the event by two strokes.
“There’s good players over here, and I just felt like if I stayed steady and kept making pars with a birdie here and there I’d be alright,” the 48-year-old Cumberland County resident and Fairmont Golf Club member said.
Powell fell short of breaking 70 for the first time in the tournament after posting 69s in the first two rounds. He edged out second-place finisher Ryan Bass, who finished at 6 under, and third-place finisher Stephen Pippin, who finished at 3 under.
After his 69 in the first round put him just behind a three-way tie for first place between Bass, Pippin and Keith McGirt, Powell’s second 69 put him one stroke behind Pippin, who was at the top of the leaderboard heading into the final round.
“I feel like if you continue to make birdies and pars you’re putting pressure on other people,” Powell said. “That’s one of the big things you have to do. When I’m playing at my best, I feel like I can play with most people. It’s just a great experience.”
Bass posted a 69 in the third round to take the runner-up position after being in fourth place with one round to go. His 32 on the back nine was the division’s best mark in the third round.
“Coming down the stretch there was a little bit of nerves, but I knew what I had to do,” Bass said. “I just wish I could have that second round back. I wish I could have beared down a little bit harder and made some more pars. I had five bogeys and only two birdies.”
Pippin, who was at 7 under heading into Sunday, said his final round didn’t go as smoothly as the first two.
“My ball striking was a little off,” Pippin said. “I wasn’t getting up and down like I was the first couple days. It was just a real grind for me, trying to fight through my bad shots. I tried to stay positive and keep a good attitude the whole day, but it just wasn’t my day.”
Pippin and Bass both have won the championship once.
Jeff Wishart, who ran the tournament for 15 years before turning the responsibilities over to Pinecrest Golf Course Superintendent Chris Jackson this year, logged a fourth-place finish after finishing at even-par. He had nothing but good things to say about Jackson’s first time overseeing the event.
“He had a good crowd show up, he had drinks out and everything went well,” Wishart said. “He did a good job.”
Wishart said he enjoyed being able to focus on his golfing rather than the tournament’s operations.
“Much less stress,” Wishart said. “I wasn’t thinking about some of the duties I normally think about. My golf game didn’t improve that much, but it was less stress for me.”
McGirt and David Lowry Jr. finished in a tie for fifth place at 1 over. John Haskins finished not far behind at 3 over, and nine-time champion Kyle Covington finished at 4 over.
Five-time champion Dyrck Fanning was the top performer in the second flight of the Championship Division at 5 over. Defending champion Brad Locklear finished in second place in the same flight, one stroke behind Fanning.
The top 10 finishers – Powell, Bass, Pippen, Wishart, McGirt, Lowry Jr., Haskins, Covington, Fanning and Locklear – advance to face off against Columbus County golfers in the Highlander Cup. The team will appoint a captain who will select six other players to compete in the dual.
Reach Brandon Tester at 910-816-1989 or [email protected] Follow him on Twitter @BrandonTester.