High school students share Shootout experience

Celebrities, golf professionals and some of the area’s best high school golfers stole the show Tuesday as part of the Dale Jarrett Shootout at the Greater Hickory Classic at Rock Barn presented by Kia Motors.

Among those in attendance were NASCAR owner Joe Gibbs, NASCAR driver Denny Hamlin, former Virginia Tech and Charlotte Hornets star Dell Curry and Olympic gold medalist Dan Jansen.

Each of the celebrities that played in Tuesday’s event were paired with a golf professional and one of the top-five finishers in Monday’s Greater Hickory High School Classic.

Three Catawba County high school golfers — Hickory’s J.T. Poston, Bunker Hill’s Tyler Lail and Fred T. Foard’s Sterling Cline — were a part of the event.

The tournament was played on holes 1-6 and 16-18 of the Robert Trent Jones course at Rock Barn.

Lail’s group, which included Curry, 1976 U.S. Open champion Jerry Pate and VIPs Debra Beaver and Burk Wyatt, won the event with a 10-under-par round.

That score was one stroke better than the second-place team of Gibbs, Statesville’s Jack Archibald, golf pro Bobby Clampett, Kansas City Chiefs kicker Ryan Succop and VIP Percy Vaughn.

Lail, who finished third in Monday’s High School Classic, said one special moment from Tuesday will stand out above the rest.

“Making some of the clutch putts for my team was really great,” Lail said. “I enjoyed that. My team seemed to enjoy that too. This is one moment I will remember throughout my golf career.”

For Cline, he said he learned some valuable golf lessons during Tuesday’s event.

“There is pressure playing golf in front of people and having people watch me too,” Cline said. “I had never done that before. There weren’t very many people watching me at the state golf tournament. It’s a lot different atmosphere.”

State 3A champion Poston said the feeling of playing with celebrities is much different from his state title winning experience.

“States are pretty competitive,” Poston said. “Today, it was just about having fun with a bunch of great players. I got some really great advice from Billy Casper. He’s a big time name on the golf tour.”

Cline’s team, which consisted of Hamlin, pro Mike Goodes and VIPs Butch Lumpkin and Peter Marin, finished third on a card playoff. They shot the same 8-under-par score as the team of Fulton Allem, Dan Jansen, South Caldwell’s Blake Childers, Benny Yount and Moore Patton.

Shooting 7-under-par and finishing fifth were the team of Poston, Jarrett, golf pro Doug Tewell and VIPs Billy Casper and Don Beaver.

Bernhard Langer withdraws from GHC

2010 Charles Schwab Cup champion Bernhard Langer withdrew before the GHC field was finalized. His left thumb is not yet healed from recent surgery, and he was not ready for competitive golf.

Three other golfers also withdrew from the tournament. Tom Pernice withdrew to play the PGA TOUR event in Memphis, Tenn., and Ronnie Black replaced him. Bill Glasson withdrew, and Tim Simpson replaced him. Michael Allen withdrew, and Eduardo Romero replaced him.
Mason wins Open Qualifier

James Mason won Monday’s Greater Hickory Classic qualifier by shooting a 62. He earns a spot in the Champions Tour event this week.

Also qualifying were Dave Rummells, Roger Chapman and Warren Jurkowitz, who won a three-way playoff on the 10th hole of the Jones Course. Jurkowitz defeated Gene Jones and Robert Thompson in the playoff. All three players were tied with a score of 66 after 18 holes of golf.