LUMBERTON — Mother nature and the other 12 competitors from the championship flight were against Dyrck Fanning and Scott Benton on Sunday in the final round of the 41st annual Kiwanis All-American golf tournament.
Rain hit Pinecrest Country Club midway through the round for the championship flight, leading tournament officials to shorten the tournament to nine holes in the final round to decide the champion. Through all the adverse circumstances on Sunday, Fanning and Benton were able to make history with their fourth team title to match a tournament record set by Fanning and Don Williamson.
“They get sweeter every year,” Benton said. “As you get a little older, you appreciate them a little bit more. It was nice to win this year.”
The previous three titles came in 2006, 2007 and 2013 in the two-man, best-ball event.
The team shot a 4-under 32 on the front nine to hold off the rest of the field and reach the record mark with a two-day total of 96.
“We wanted to hit as many greens as we could, and hope that some putts would go in,” Fanning said. “Scott made some putts and I was there for support.”
Paired with co-leaders Joseph Martin and Jeff Broadwell, who faltered on the second day with an even-par nine, Benton and Fanning proved it was experience, and not age that would outlast to win the tournament.
The team of John Haskins and Larry Cloninger gave the closest chase to the champions two strokes behind at 98, and Mark Lassiter and Keith McGirt came in third at 99 with a second-round total of 34.
For Fanning, this is his eighth overall title.
“I’m 57 years old and it’s nice to win and it’s nice to have a little shortness of breath when the heat gets on,” Fanning said. “You sort of dread the competition on the weekends after you work all week. But if I was sitting at home this afternoon, I would be wishing I was out playing. It’s great seeing these guys.
“I see Keith and some of these guys twice a year and it means so much. That’s what gets me out here, it really does.”
Benton drained three birdie putts and Fanning added a fourth for the team in its final round, who chalked the victory up to the comfort level they share on the course.
“I like to think that he thinks I’m there,” Fanning said. “It’s like Scott said, the older you get the more you appreciate it.”
The defending champions Mark Kinlaw and Jeff Wishart won the first flight; Eddie Williams and Danny Lassiter won the second flight; Travis Kemp and Chad McCurry won the third flight; Gerald Kebort and Tony Perez won the fourth flight.
Jonathan Bym can be reached at 910-816-1977 or by email at [email protected] Follow him on Twitter @Jonathan_Bym.