Originally created 09/13/03

North Augustan's quest pays off



Lee Harville is one of the most unlikely golfers in this weekend's Regions Cup Matches at Thomson's Belle Meade Country Club.

Not because he doesn't have the talent to play with the area's top players. Rather, Harville didn't expect to play in enough tournaments to qualify for the South Carolina team, which takes on Georgia in the Ryder Cup-format matches today and Sunday.

Players make their respective eight-man teams by earning points for top-20 finishes in the eight tournaments of the series.

Harville, of North Augusta, planned to play in just two events - the Gordon Uhl/Golf Capital Invitational and the Orville White Cup. Both are at Midland Valley Country Club in Graniteville, where Harville grew up playing golf as a teen-ager.

His schedule changed when he tied for eighth place in the Gordon Uhl/Golf Capital, the second tournament of the series. He picked up 16 points and "decided to keep going" in a bid to make the South Carolina team, he said.

The 39-year-old Harville, a former North Augusta High golfer, had never played in more than one Regions Cup event in a season. What's more, he hadn't played in any event in three years, thanks in part to the arrival of his daughter, Lindsey, four years ago.

Harville played in five tournaments this season, but needed a strong finish in the season finale, the W.M. Gregory Classic, to make the team. He was in 14th place in the standings among South Carolinians going into the Gregory Classic.

"I really felt like I had to have a top five; I felt like if I didn't, I wasn't going to make it," Harville said.

Harville opened with 1-under-par 71 at North Augusta Country Club and was two shots off the lead. He was even-par in the final round through 16 holes, but three-putted the final two holes for 74.

"I knew it was going to be close," Harville said of making the team.

It was. Harville tied for fifth place in the Gregory Classic, earning 25 points to claim the seventh spot on the Regions Cup team with 69 points. It took 64 points to make the team.

"After I three-putted those holes, I figured I might have to get in as an alternate, but I really wanted to get in without being an alternate," Harville said.

In his five starts, Harville finished in the top 15 in each event, with his best finish coming at the Gregory Classic.

"My game has been getting better as I've aged," said Harville, a data base administrator who seldom has time to play, but practices regularly at River Golf Club in North Augusta.

For that reason, playing in a four-ball match today and a singles match Sunday practically rates as a golf marathon for Harville.

He'll try to help South Carolina extend its 10-4-1 lead over Georgia in the series. Palmetto State golfers have won two of the past three matches, but the series is tied at 2-2 since Belle Meade became the permanent host.

"I'm excited about it; I'm really looking forward to it," Harville said. "I've talked to (player of the year) Scott Brown about how much fun it is. I'm ready to go."

Reach David Westin at (706) 724-0851 or david.westin@augustachronicle.com