February 1, 2014

South Carolina makeshift traveling team finishes third

Availability was key for local men in national tourney

Their professions range from textbooks to medicine to finance to construction, but Robert Hicks, Rick Lang, Brian Chung and Lance Westberry forged an ideal golf partnership during the trip of a lifetime.

The Country Club of Lexington men “brother-in-lawed” perfectly and finished third in the National Kidney Foundation Classic finals over three of the country’s most famed layouts — Pebble Beach Golf Links, Spyglass Hill Golf Course and the Links at Spanish Bay.

“We had an unbelievable experience over spectacular golf courses,” Westberry said. “We definitely meshed as a team” and finished 33-under par for the three-round finals played in a scramble format.

To equalize the competition, rules required the four-player teams to have a combined handicap of 42 with one with a low index. A team had to use each player’s tee ball at least three times in each round.

“Rick’s our best player; he’s really good,” Westberry said. “Brian and I are about 10s (handicaps) and Robert is about 22. We’re friends and play with different people, and this (team) just came together perfectly.”

Hicks put the team together with one primary requirement — availability.

“He asked around to see who could play on a Monday (in a fall qualifier at the Members Club’s Woodcreek Course) and, more important, who could go to California (in January) if the team qualified,” Westberry said. “We played together very well. In the tournament, we had to use at least three drives by each player, and everybody made putts.”

The South Carolinians flew to California on a Wednesday evening, arriving on the West Coast close to midnight. They played a practice round at Pebble Beach – “probably the second best course in the world,” Westberry said — on Thursday, competed in the tourney the next three days and returned home on Monday. Their quarters — the spectacular Inn at Spanish Bay — enhanced the experience.

The real winner was the National Kidney Foundation, which raised an estimated $5 million through the tournament this year. Since its inception, the event has raised more than $90 million for the awareness, prevention and treatment of kidney disease.

Chip shots

Columbians Bernie Shealy (One-Day Senior) and Les Bradstreet (One-Day Net) earned titles in the SCGA’s Tournament of Champions at the Tradition Club at Pawleys Island. Other winners: Robert Kevin (Chesnee, Men’s Club), Bill Smunk (Kingstree, Men’s Senior Club), Jaelyn Tindal (Rock Hill, Women) and Tucker MacDonald (Greer, One-Day Gross). ...

Scott Stallings, winner of last week’s Farmers Insurance Open, is among the PGA Tour players who have competed in the NGA’s Woodcreek Classic at the Members Club’s Woodcreek course. Other Woodcreek “grads” who played well in San Diego included Gary Woodland, Russell Knox, Keegan Bradley and Robert Streb. “That’s why we host the Woodcreek Classic and get to see tomorrow’s PGA professionals play on our course,” club president Stan Luallin said. ...

Dallas Odom of Anderson will be among the 12 competitors in the Golf Channel’s all-female Big Break Florida that begins Feb. 24. ...

Volunteer registration and ticket sales for the BMW Pro-Am, a Web,com Tour event in the Greenville area, began Friday. Go to for details.

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