Up & Coming Weekly

September 26, 2017

Up and Coming Weekly is a weekly publication in Fayetteville, NC and Fort Bragg, NC area offering local news, views, arts, entertainment and community event and business information.

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30 UCW SEPTEMBER 27 - OCTOBER 3, 2017 WWW.UPANDCOMINGWEEKLY.COM West Takes Seventh Win at the 49th Annual Cumberland County Golf Championship Classic by LESLIE PYO COVER STORY Twent y years ago, Billy West won the Cumberland Count y Golf Championship Classic at Gates Four Golf and Countr y Club. Two weeks ago, on Sept. 15-17, he shot the same three-day total on the Gates Four course as he did in 1997 — even-par 216 over three days — and earned his seventh CCGCC w in. West, who ser ves as Cumberland Count y's district attorney, named t wo pivotal moments that determined his v ictor y. The first was at the seventh hole on Friday, in the first round of the tournament. West was one under par through the first six holes. "A nd t hen I came to t he par-3 sevent h hole and hit a shot a litt le to t he left — my tee shot — and it plugged up under t he lip of t he bunker," he said. "I've been play ing in t his championship for 26 years, and it was t he worst break t hat I've ever had. If I would've hit 10,000 balls, I could not have gotten it to go up under t he lip of t he bunker like t hat." It took him three shots to get the ball out, and he ended up posting a triple bogey. At that point, West, said, it could have all been over. "But I re- ally had a good focus and determination all week- end, and I said, ... 'let's not let this hole define the tournament. I didn't want to look back and say 2017 was the year I had the triple bogey in the first round and that was the end of the tournament for me.'" He bogeyed again on the next hole, which he attributed to tr ying too hard, and then he played 3-under-par for the rest of the tournament. He ended w ith a 74 for the first round while last year's champion, Thomas Owen, led w ith 70. Owen continued his lead on Saturday. It was in the final holes on Sunday that West's second pivotal moment came. "Years dow n the road, it's the one I'll remem- ber," he said. West caught up to Owen early in Sunday's round, and they were back and forth all day. West led by one coming into the par-3 15th hole. He again hit his tee shot into the left bunker, which is where he'd hit it when he made the triple bogey on Friday. "My bunker game ironically had been really good all weekend aside from that shot on Friday," West said. "I ended up mak ing the bunker shot for a birdie. I've been playing competitive golf for 35 years, and I don't k now that I've ever made a bunker shot in a pressured situation." West and Owen both made par on the last three holes, which meant West maintained his t wo- shot lead and took the championship title w ith a final- round score of 72. West said this w in was particularly special to him for several reasons, the most significant being his family. He said his father Bill has been there for ever y single one of his w ins, and his w ife Suzanna for almost all of them. But this was the first year he's been able to share a w in w ith his whole fam- ily — including son Will, 8, and daughter Lila, 4. "My daughter was not even born (the last time I won) in 2011, and to be able to w in this year, … and for us to be able to experience it as a family was ver y special," he said. "To be honest, it was an opportunit y I didn't k now whether I would have or not." He cited his age and the fact that he'd fin- ished second in four out of the five tournaments bet ween now and his last w in as reasons he'd been unsure. "The sevent h v ictor y seemed to be elusive," he said. A not her factor was t he course itself. The CCGCC rotates location but has been held at Gates Four several times since West's w in t here in 1997. West had placed second a couple of times but hadn't managed to w in again at t hat course until now. "Gates Four, because it is a ver y long, 7,000-yard-long golf course, is not tradition- ally t he best setup for me," West said. "For me it was probably t he least likely place to pick up my sevent h w in, particularly at 43 years old. You just never k now in golf; t hat's what makes it such a great game." Twent y-eight-year-old Owen finished second in the tournament w ith a final-round score of 77 and a total score of 218. "I was really pleased w ith the way that I played, … but k ind of towards the end I got outplayed by Billy," he said. "He's a great friend and a great competitor." Owen called the tournament a learning ex- perience. "We always joke around that if we could combine our games into one, we'd have something prett y special because we both have different strengths." Owen said he definitely has a length advantage over West, which helped on the Gates Four course. As for Wests' advantage? "I feel like he just has this level of focus that is unmatched," Owen said. "W hen you're playing in a three-day golf tournament, 54 holes, it's k ind of a marathon. He understands that. He k nows the shots you hit on the first day are just as important as the shots you hit on the last three holes of the tournament when it comes dow n to the w ire and ever ybody's watch- ing. Maintaining that level of focus is a lot easier said than done, and I think that's ultimately where he got me." West was frank in his remarks about Owen: "I said it after t he tournament, and I don't mind say ing it: I t hink day-in and day-out, Thomas is a better player t han I am now. I was just a litt le bit better on Sunday. … Thomas and I are good friends, and I'm ... humbled t hat he looks at me as a bit of a mentor w it h his golf game. I've f inished second to Thomas si x or seven times (at ot her lo- cal tournaments) in t he past t hree years." Mat t Hudson, a consistent ly compet it ive CCGCC player, f inished t hird at 225. Ga r y Rob- inson, who holds a record eig ht CCGCC w ins, t ied w it h Rya n Hu l l for four t h at 228. T his yea r saw t he f irst t ime t hree for mer CCGCC cha mpions were g rouped in t he f ina l round: West, O wen a nd Robinson. Jua n Sa nders won t he Open Div ision at 230, Chuck Mohn won t he Senior Div ision at 226, a nd Ron T hompson won t he Super Senior Flig ht at 233. A ngelique Sey mour, a 16-year-old junior at Liber t y Christ ian Academy, won t he inaug ural Women's Div ision by 53 shots at 227. Sey mour is no st ranger to accolades in at hlet ics. She placed in t he top t hree of her div ision in t he 2012 USA Taek wondo Nat ional Championship in Dallas, Texas, when she was just 12 years old. A year West won the 49th CCGCC at 216. Owen finished second at 218. C H A M P I O N S H I P C L A S S I C The West family L-R: Suzanna, Will, Billy and Lila.

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