|Crockett rolls to Gate City win
By Dan Manley
Advocate Sports Editor
Over the last 15 years they’ve grown into the Gate City Invitational’s equivalent of Jack Nicklaus and Arnold Palmer.
Kevin Lawson, now 42, gets the nod for Palmer over the 40-years-old this week Robie Crockett. Crockett becomes the Nicklaus of the duo.
Lawson, the boys’ golf coach at Montgomery County, entered last week’s Gate City Invitational with six titles, the last one coming in 2016.
Crockett, a native of Mt. Sterling who now lives in Louisville, had won five GCI titles before last week, including the 2017 event.
Just like Nicklaus and Palmer became a magical duo for the PGA Tour beginning back in the 1960s, the Crockett-Lawson matchup in the Gate City Invitational gives local golf fans a chance to see two great players go at it, often head to head.
Last week, Crockett got the better of Lawson at Indian Creek Golf Course to win his sixth Gate City Invitational title.
“It feels really good to win again,” Crockett said, “it doesn’t get old.”
Crockett won thanks to a nice cushion he built up in the opening two rounds when he was seven-under-par with rounds of 67 and 70.
Although he struggled in the final round he still managed a two-shot win over Lawson.
“He didn’t struggle because I was putting any pressure on him,” Lawson laughed. “He just had a rough day but he still made some big shots when they counted and anytime you’ve got to try and come back against Robie you’ve got a real task.”
Crockett wasn’t the only players who struggled in the final round with the course producing much higher scores overall.
But while Lawson once pulled to within one shot Crockett never lost focus and immediately went back to work to increase the lead.
The final round started with Crockett owning a comfortable five-shot lead over Lawson.
But things quickly got a bit crazy with Lawson getting a birdie on one and Crockett taking a bogey on two to trim the lead to three.
Then Lawson double bogeyed six and Crockett returned the favor at seven.
Lawson made another mistake at 10 and took a double bogey to Crockett’s bogey and they went to the 11th tee with Crockett leading by four but things were about to change.
Lawson’s drive was just under 300 yards and from 122 yards away he connected on a pitching wedge that hit about 12 feet from the flagstick, took one nice bounce and rolled into the cup for an eagle.
Crockett hit a tree off the tee and made bogey for a three-shot swing and his lead was down to one.
“There was a little electricity in the crowd,” Crockett said. “They knew that it was game on from that point.”
For Crockett that simply meant six pars and a bogey the rest of the way while Lawson bogeys on No. 13 and No. 15.
Montgomery County High School senior Jon Kosier flirted with making a run.
He started the day eight shots off the lead and tied for fourth place.
He birdied the second and third holes and when Crockett bogeyed No. 7 he was within five shots but he gave that shot right back when he bogeyed No. 8.
On the backside, Koser birdied No. 10 and No. 11 while Crockett bogeyed both holes and Kosier was within three. That was as close as he would get.
Dane Fritts who tied with Kosier for third and lost on a scorecard playoff to Kosier, began Sunday’s final round six shots back and quickly got to within four after thee holes and was still four back headed into the final nine holes.
He narrowed Crockett’s lead to two when he birdied No. 13 but lost shots at 14 and 17 to finish four behind.
Kosier’s round of 74 was the best anyone could muster on the final day.
“This wasn’t the same golf course we played the first two days,” Crockett noted. “The greens really dried out and it wasn’t easy to make a putt.”
The tournament has taken on more of a local flavor in recent years with fewer players from out of the area participating. But the strength of local talent has increased making the challenge just as tough.
“There are some tremendous young players here now,” Crockett said. “There’s a real advantage though in having the experience factor in your corner because it makes a difference, which these guys will see over the next few years.”
Crockett said that after playing in the Gate City for a few years there was no way he would have thought he could ever win the tournament seven times.
Yet now, only entering his 40’s, Crockett should have a chance to win several more Gate City tournaments.
“I love the course and love this tournament,” Crockett said. “It’s challenging, the field is challenging. I always feel a real sense of accomplishment when I win here. It’s never easy.”
For Lawson, he finds himself spending much of his time these days working with the young players on his team instead of practicing and playing himself.
But he’s still in the upper echelon of golfers throughout this area.
Kosier won a scorecard playoff with Dane Fritts for third place, both finishing four shots back of Crockett, while Tom Campbell, former Kentucky State Amateur Champion, was tied for fifth with Jay Adams who is now playing at Georgetown.
Morehead State University men’s golf coach Matthew Martin was all alone in sixth place, eight strokes behind Crockett.
Another MCHS golfer, Luke Fuller, who’ll be playing in a national amateur tournament this weekend, was ninth and Kyle Beckham was 10th.
Beckham has battled through injuries the last few seasons but played in the next to last foursome on Sunday.
Eight of the 16 golfers in the championship flight were former or current Montgomery County High School golfers.
Crockett was right back at it Tuesday when he began play in the Kentucky Open at Harmony Landing in Goshen, just outside of Louisville.
The Kentucky Open is a tournament for players, both professional and amateurs, from the state of Kentucky.
Meanwhile, Lawson was headed west with Montgomery County High School golf team Monday for a Tuesday appearance in