Tuesday, June 7, 2005

Kansas duo among Four-Ball favorites


Born just two months apart, Gary Woodland and Tyler Docking were separated by a mere two strokes in last week's Kansas City Amateur at the Country Club of Blue Springs, Mo.

Woodland won, and Docking was second, but now the two Kansas University golfers will be teammates again this week.

They are, in fact, the designated duo to defeat in this week's Kansas Golf Assn. Four-Ball championship at Alvamar Golf Course.

"Both of us are playing well right now," Woodland said. "In the K.C. Amateur, we fed off each other. We had 13 birdies between the two of us."

That's not good news for the other 85 teams entered in the five-day event that will begin with 18 holes of stroke-play qualifying today at the renovated Alvamar public layout.

Woodland teamed with former Kansas University teammate Kevin Ward to win last year's KGA Four-Ball, also conducted at Alvamar, but Ward turned pro last month, leaving Woodland to look for a new partner. He didn't have to look very far.

Woodland, a Shawnee Heights High product, and Docking, an Olathe East grad, have been KU teammates for the last two seasons, and they've known each other much longer than that.

"Tyler and I grew up together, playing junior golf against each other," Woodland said.

Kim Richey, KGA executive director, concedes the Woodland-Docking tandem will be difficult to defeat, not only because Alvamar is KU's home course, but because of their skills.

"Woodland hits it so far," Richey said. "He can overpower a par-5."

Still, it is the KGA's policy at its Four-Ball event to shorten the course in an attempt to prevent the long hitters from dominating. Thus, Alvamar's No. 8 and No. 11 holes, both par-5s, have been sliced to par-4s. At the same time, for this tournament only, Alvamar's par 72 will drop to par 70.

In another wrinkle, the Four-Ball is the only KGA event open to non Kansans. Consequently, a dozen or so of the competitors will be out-of-staters.

"We always make it a priority to take care of the in-state guys," Richey said, "but this event doesn't usually fill up, and we've had quite of few entries from Arkansas as well as a bunch from Springfield, Mo."

After two days of stroke-play qualifying, the 32 two-man teams with the lowest scores will begin match play competition Thursday. Quarterfinals and semifinals will be Friday, with a 36-hole championship round scheduled Saturday.

Jimmy Saparito of Olathe and Matt Lowe of Pittsburg, who teamed to win the 2003 KGA Four-Ball at Spring Hill's Sycamore Ridge GC, figure to be in the hunt, but Woodland and Docking may find the most pressure coming from KU teammates Luke Trammell and Jason Sigler, and Joey Mundy and Zach Pederson.

Wichita's Ty Cline and Judd Easterling also are likely to be strong contenders.

This will be the first major event at Alvamar since the course was shut down for seven months in order to replace the greens with a contemporary form of Crenshaw bentgrass. The course officially reopened May 4.

"We're excited to have this tournament," Alvamar pro Brad Demo said. "It's time to showcase the new facility. I think the competitors will be absolutely thrilled."

Added Richey: "It's really pretty amazing the way the greens came in. They're as thick as they can be."


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