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Eagle Creek duo advance to NOPGA Match Play finals

By DON HOHLER • Updated Oct 12, 2017 at 11:43 PM

Eagle Creek Golf Club professionals David Morgan and Dustin Lieber have advanced to the finals of the season-long Northern Ohio PGA Section Match Play tournament.

The 18-hole finals will pit the local duo against the brother combination of Mike (Fallen Timbers CC, Toledo) and Steve (Stone Ridge CC, Bowling Green) Stone on Thursday afternoon at Catawba Island Country Club.

“It will be a decent payday for the winners, something like $1,500,” Lieber said. “But, the bigger prize to the winners is the lifetime exemption into the Northern Ohio PGA Tour championship.”

Dustin, the 23-year-old, first-year pro at Eagle Creek, and Morgan, 32, the Director of Golf at the New State Road club, have weaved their way through five matches since the tournament started back in May.

After a first round bye, the locals played a steady round of golf in defeating Mike Pickett, Stone Water GC, Cleveland, and lifetime PGA member, Gary Trivisonno, Cleveland, 3&2, at Elyria Country Club.

It takes a fortunate bounce or two to stay in a tournament of this length — and in the case of their third round match, it was a bad bounce by their opponents, Joe Meglan (Golf Tech) and John Powers (Cleveland State assistant coach).

“Powers made an eagle on 16 at Elyria CC to put us 1-down, but he caught a bad break when his approach shot on 17 hit the pin, causing them to make bogey and square the match going to the final hole,” Lieber said. “I was then fortunate enough to roll in a 20-footer for birdie on 18 for the 1-up win.”

It was Morgan’s unbelievable recovery shot out of a deep divot on 17 at Lakewood CC that moved the team into the fifth round. Mark Bixler (Kirtland CC) and Scott Pollack (Callaway Rep, Cleveland) could only watch as Morgan took out a huge chunk of sod, but still muscled the ball to within two-feet for a birdie and a 2-up win.

Portage Country Club was the venue for the next match, this one between defending champions Mark Evans (Mayfield CC) and Dennis Miller (Tippacanoe CC).

“We were playing well early, holding as much as a 3-up lead,” Lieber said. “But then Miller, a qualifier for the U.S. Open two years ago, showed what kind of player he is when he went eagle-birdie-eagle on 9, 10 and 11. Just that quick, the match was on.”

But as happens so often, a break here and there makes the difference.

“When we lost 17 to square the match, it all came down to trusting your swing,” Lieber said. “The pivotal shot was by Miller on his approach to 18. He cut it to close to a tree branch, knocking the shot down. Dave and I both had eight-footers for birdie. Rather than playing out the hole, our opponents conceded, giving us the 1-up win.”

The local duo have played exceptional golf over the last three weeks, both going 3-0 in recent Ryder Cup-format matches. Lieber in the Assistant Pro championship at Sand Ridge GC (Chardon) that gave the West Team their first win over the East in the last eight years — and Morgan in the Ohio Cup tournament that saw his North Team best the South.

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