Brame's game starting to click

May. 05, 2014 @ 10:38 PM

Just another tournament?

Not quite.

The final foursome Sunday in the Henderson Invitational featured three Northern Vance graduates and D.J. Matthews, a 2013 Crossroads Christian graduate.

Steven Brame, Daniel Faulkner and Blair Thomas — the Northern alums — have been playing against each other for years, making for a friendly competition.

That doesn’t mean pressure to win was absent at Henderson Country Club, especially for Brame and Faulkner, who entered the final round tied.

Brame fired a 68 Sunday to finish the 57th Boy Scouts of America-sponsored tournament 5-under par, besting second-place Faulkner by 10 strokes to win his third Henderson Invitational. 

“Out here, you know everybody,” said Brame, a 2001 Northern grad. “It’s a little added pressure on you. You want to do good for all your hometown people and fellow club members. I try to think of it as just another day, but it’s not.”

Brame also claimed the title in 2012 when he shot 6-under to set a new tourney low.

Faulkner said he knew he would have to play exceptionally well Sunday to hang with Brame, the reigning N.C. Amateur champion.

“He’s definitely gotten very consistent over the years,” said Faulkner. “He’s put the time in and he’s earned what he’s got. He’s pretty much like a robot out there, very seldom makes mistakes. That’s what you have to do.”

Faulkner, a three-time Henderson Invitational champion himself, edged Brame in a playoff in last year’s tourney.

Thomas finished fourth with a two-day mark of 156 and Matthews shot a 158.

Brame and Thomas played on the same Northern team for one year and Brame and Faulkner were Cape Fear Community College teammates.

“We’ve always had competition between the two of us,” Brame said of he and Faulkner. “It’s been good. It’s kept our games sharp. Daniel has not been playing as much as he used to. We’re both getting ready to be dads, so I don’t know much longer it will go.”

The final group teed off Sunday on the back nine on a windy, warm day two.

Brame got off to a strong start and birdied 15 to build a comfortable advantage.

“It was some great golf under some tough conditions today,” said John Michael, the first-year club pro. “The wind was blowing hard pretty much all day. Steven played great and a lot of guys throughout different flights did too. I think it was a great tournament overall.”

Michael joined the club after spending four seasons as an assistant pro at North Ridge Country Club in Raleigh.

“The competition in the championship flight of this tournament was about as good as I’ve seen at big clubs,” said Michael. “There’s a lot of good players in Henderson. This golf course is tough. As hard as it is, as tight as it is, you can’t expect everybody to shoot 72, 74 like they would on a wide-open golf course.”

Fifteen strokes separated Brame and third-place finisher Brent Landen, who followed a 76 on day one with a 78 Sunday.

Stacy Lewis claimed the Senior Division crown with a two-day mark of 160 and Berry Perry finished atop the Super Senior flight with a 159.

Brame hadn’t been feeling especially confident about his game, but his play over the last week changed that.

“It seems like something has clicked in my golf swing,” he said. “I’m hitting the ball a lot more solid.”

Just in time for Brame to defend his N.C. Amateur title in June. Before that, he’ll try to qualify for the U.S. Open on May 15. 

“I’m not really going out with any expectations,” said Brame. “I just want to make a good showing.”

HENDERSON INVITATIONAL RESULTS
CHAMPIONSHIP FLIGHT

1. Steven Brame 71-68 — 139
2. Daniel Faulkner 71-78 — 149
3. Brent Landen 76-78 — 154

FLIGHT 1
1. Ed King 79-78 — 157
2. Beau Brewer 81-77 — 158
3. Brent White 79-79 — 158

SENIOR DIVISION
1. Stacy Lewis 78-82 — 160
2. J.A. Devin 81-81 — 162
3. Johnny Gill 86-77 — 163

SUPER SENIOR DIVISION
1. Berry Perry 79-80 — 159
2. Jim Beck 82-80 — 162

Contact the writer at kholtzman@hendersondispatch.com.