Lovell wins Butler Invitational

June 07, 2004|JILL ERWIN

Luke Lovell couldn't have been more disappointed with how he opened his inaugural J.E. Butler Invitational at Danville Country Club Saturday. The former Danville golfer also couldn't have been happier with how he finished it.

Lovell shot a 5-under par 31 on the final nine Saturday, and followed that with a second-day 68 to win the Butler by two strokes over Lexingtonian Toby Mullins. Lovell finished at 6-under 138.

"Today I just tried to tell myself to play golf and keep it going like I did on my back nine yesterday," Lovell said. "I had three bogeys today, but I still shot a 68. I couldn't be more happy."

Lovell led a charge up the leaderboard by young local golfers including Ben Fuqua and Phillip Hendrickson, as both finished in the top five at 1-over 145.


He came back from two straight double bogeys

Lovell opened Saturday's play with a 70, thanks largely to his 31 on his second nine. He started on the back nine, and double-bogeyed both Nos. 12 and 13. But when he made the turn, he said it all took a turn for the better.

"I started on the back nine and I played horrible," Lovell said. "Then I go to my back nine and just lit it up with a 31. I couldn't have played any better."

He carried it over to Sunday, when he birdied Nos. 1, 4 and 5 to go to 5-under. He later birdied 12, to go to 6-under, and found out Mullins had bogeyed 13 to give Lovell a one-stroke lead. A Lovell bogey on 15 tied them up, but a par save putt by Lovell on the 16th green combined with a Mullins shot that sailed out of bounds on 17 gave Lovell a winning cushion.

"I didn't know he hit it out on 17," Lovell said. "Everybody kept telling me, 'Keep it in bounds and you'll be all right.' So I just aimed as far left as I could."

Lovell, who transferred to Campbell College from Mississippi State last semester, birdied 17 and parred 18 to hold on for the win. He did it in front of a large crowd, and Lovell attributed that to the large local presence. All four members of the final foursome - Lovell, Fuqua, Boyle County golf coach Mike LaFavers and Danville's Michael Hall - were area golfers.

"I was on 17, and I heard someone mention that the crowd was one of the biggest they'd ever seen because there was four local guys in the last group," Lovell said. "I think it would be good if some in-town guys could win this more often."

Influx of young talent could mean local winners for years to come

The influx of young local talent could make that happen sooner than later.

One person who has seen all Lovell, Fuqua and Hendrix play is LaFavers, who was the low-score medalist Saturday with an opening 69 and finished third in the tourney. He coached Hendrickson at Boyle and coached against Lovell and Fuqua when they were at Danville.

"We have some great young players. The first time I played with Luke was probably six, seven years ago when he was just a little kid. You could see right away he was going to be a nice player. Then you've got Phil and you've got Ben," LaFavers said.

"I'd be surprised if an out-of-towner wins this tournament for the next five, six years. I'd say it's going to be local guys with the strong young people we've got here."

Lovell and Fuqua spent several years together on the Danville team, but hadn't had much time to play rounds together over past summers.

Fuqua looks at Lovell as a "mentor"

Fuqua said he's always looked to Lovell as a "mentor," but Lovell said Fuqua doesn't need to look up to anyone anymore. Fuqua was named the player of the year in Kentucky high school golf last season.

"Ben's turned out to be a great player," Lovell said. "I feel like the student's taken over a little bit. We're practicing as much as we can, because we have the state am in two weeks."

Fuqua was playing in his first Butler and Hendrickson picked up his second top-five finish in his two years in the tourney. Both said the local guys should have a big edge in years to come.

"I like to look at it as our tournament," Fuqua said. "You go back when guys like (Greg) Souder and Michael Hall won it, and we're just trying to restore that."

"I think it's a good possibility," Hendrickson said. "We're all capable of shooting low scores, and this is our home course. Somebody's going to have to come here and shoot a low number to beat us."

Butler scores

Championship Flight A: Luke Lovell 70-68-138, Toby Mullins 71-69-139, Mike LaFavers 69-72-141, Phillip Hendrickson 71-74-145, Ben Fuqua 70-75-145, Michael Hall 70-76-146.

Championship Flight B: John Kartheiser 75-69-144, Josh Earnest 76-71-147.

First A: Jay Knight 71-77-148, Rusty Clark 75-75-150.

First B: Joe Monterio 79-77-156, Mark McKelvey 80-77-157.

Second A: Pat Ponce 74-75-159, Chuck Vandelune 76-74-150.

Second B: Randy Bramel 82-76-158, Lewis Burke 84-79-163.

Third A: Cole Mithcam 76-82-158, Michael Campbell 76-83-159.

Third B: Brad Hoar 84-81-165, McKinley Dailey 83-83-166.

Fourth A: Ronnie Hester 80-82-162; Steve Buchanan 84-80-164.

Fourth B: Larry Rose 88-84-172, Wayne Jackson 85-94-179.

Fifth A: Steve Brossart 82-87-169, Joe Emerson 85-84-169.

Fifth B: Bob Dragan 91-85-176, Billy Bobblitt 91-86-177.

Sixth A: Tom Gregory 84-91-175, Vern Bramel 88-93-181.

Sixth B: Trey Coyle 100-95-195, AJ Nagai 103-99-202.

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