Gross rallies for Kivett crown
Tanner Gross didn’t get flustered by his early mistake. Harrison Frye saw strokes slip away after early success.
Those two trends enabled Gross to overtake first-round leader Frye on Oak Hollow’s back nine and become a first-time winner of the Bud Kivett Memorial City Golf Tournament.
Gross rebounded from a front-side 39 to chip in twice for birdie and shoot 33 on the back for a 72, the only player in the final group not to play over par in the rain-delayed final round, and wound up at 7-under 137.
That was five shots better than Frye, who fell apart on the back nine and finished with a 78, and won a scorecard playoff with Gary Pugh for second place after they tied at 142. Pugh recovered from a 40 on the windy front nine to shoot 35 on the back for a 75. Justin Franklin, the other member of the final group, finished at 75 for a 143. Ryan Hodges, the only other member of the championship flight to return for the final round, finished fifth at 146.
“It’s an honor to win this tournament,” said Gross, who is in the final year of home schooling and will play golf for Guilford beginning in the fall. “I’ve played in it a couple of times and came close in first flight. I managed to put together two good rounds.”
Frye was in prime position to take control when he birdied the sixth hole and held a 4-shot lead as Gross made a triple-bogey seven after he rolled a putt from just off the front fringe in the lake-side bunker, took two shots to get out of the trap and then two putted.
Gross shook off the calamity and made just one more bogey, that on No. 9.
“I didn’t really worry about it,” Gross said of his poor play on No. 6. “It happens. I know not to get too mad over one hole. That’s what I was taught by my Dad.”
And while Gross played steady. Frye kept making mistakes, playing the last 11 holes in 7-over.
“I felt pretty good after (the birdie on 6),” Frye said. “I had a cushion and tried to play with it. My putting — I couldn’t get the putts to drop.”
He missed par putts on 7 and 8 as Gross made par as the lead shrank to two. The lead went to three before Frye opened the door by butchering the par-5 10th.
Frye skulled his second shot, which went about 50 yards. Getting to the green in four, he sent his fifth shot across the putting surface, chipped on and made double-bogey as Gross made par as the lead shrank to one.
“I was trying to hit a little draw and wasn’t comfortable and just made a bad swing,” Frye said of the misplayed second shot.
Gross drew even when Frye missed a par putt on 13. Gross chipped in for birdie on 15 to go up by two, and any doubt about the outcome was pretty much settled on 17 when both Gross and Frye reached the putting surface with their tee shots. The difference was Gross’s shot got a big kick and landed on the 17th green.
Frye’s tee shot went right and landed on the No. 1 green. Gross made birdie on the par-4 and went up by four as Frye made bogey, which could have been worse if his shot out of a bunker had not hit the flag, keeping the ball from flying well past the green.
“On the back nine I started making a few bad swings,” Frye, a High Point Central junior, said. “I didn’t keep grinding like I should have. And then on 17 and again 18 (which he also bogeyed), I just wasn’t thinking clearly.”