Junior golfers go low at Sanford
Whether trying to earn season points, a spot in the Tournament of Champions or simply for the often tough experience of how tournament golf is different than simply knocking the ball around on a summer afternoon, a large field of junior golfers from across North Carolina came to Sanford Municipal Golf Course Thursday for a Tarheel Youth Golf Association tournament.
Zebulon's Amanda Levy won the girls 14-18 year-old division by shooting an 82, one stroke better than Durham's Kit McHutchison.
Charlotte's Hunter Cullip won the boys 12-13 group and was the only player to go even par, shooting sides of 35 and 36 for an even-par 71. Cullip edged Chris Kim, of Cary, who shot 72.
Further down the 11-12 leaderboard was a dispute over a scorecard which left some raw feelings, but, as is frequently a result of kids playing tournament golf, was a learning experience for future tournaments.
The two older boys' divisions were tight as well. Austin Arnold, of Wake Forest, shot 74 and edged Ryan Barrett and John Rea by a stroke to win the 16-18 year-old group. Sanford's Samuel Bradley, who plays for Lee County, shot 76 and tied for fourth.
One of Bradley's teammates, Walter Brinker, a rising sophomore at Lee County, tied with Cary's Andy Choi with rounds of 74 atop the 14-15 year-old division.
Choi won the tiebreaker, comparing back nine scores, for the division first-place. It was a key tiebreaker as each division champ on the day earned berths into the TYGA's Tournament of Champions coming up in October.
Choi won the tiebreaker versus Arnold, which came down to the lowest score for the last six holes, for the overall medalist. Cullip, the 12-13 champ, wasn't eligible for overall medalist as the youngest group played shorter tees.
Brinker had a fine score but was mixed about how he played.
"I didn't play particularly well," he said. "Some of my drives were off. I hit some good second shots in there, but then I didn't make many putts. I hung in there and got up and down a few times when I needed to."
Brinker chipped in for a birdie on No. 9, his last hole of the day. Which proved vital to finish tied with Choi.
Brinker's had mulitple second- and third-place finishes in tournaments this summer, he said, but hasn't broken through for a title.
"It's a whole different atmosphere," said Brinker about playing in tournaments. He said he'll play in about 15 tournaments, some TYGA events, some other events, through the summer.
"You learn to handle pressure, to come through when you need to and to hit good shots when you know you need to," he said.
The TYGA's tour schedule includes upcoming stops in Siler City, on July 18, Winston-Salem, on July 24, Raleigh, on Aug. 5, and Southern Pines, on Aug. 6.
The TYGA Tournament of Champions will be played Aug. 13-14 at Asheboro's Pinewood Country Club. The TYGA State Championship will be hosted by Keith Hills Country Club in Buies Creek on Oct. 12-13.
Tarheel Youth Golf Association
at Sanford Municipal Golf Course
1. Amanda Levy, Zebulon - 82
2. Kit McHutchison, Durham - 83
3. Natalie Petersen, Holly Springs - 85
4. Stacy Williams, Raleigh - 87
5. Brianna Newton, Fayetteville - 89
1. Hunter Cullip, Charlotte - 71
2. Chris Kim, Cary - 72
3. Parker Collins, Greensboro - 77
4. Noel Turlington, Clinton - 78
1. Andy Choi, Cary - 74
2. Walter Brinker, Sanford - 74
3. Monty Fields, Clayton - 78
4. Dalton Mauldin, Sanford - 79
t5. Hardy Hogan, Raleigh - 80
t5. Zachary Freeman, Angier - 80
t5. Jacob Lowe, Angier - 80
1. Austin Arnold, Wake Forest - 74
2. Ryan Barrett, Roanoke Rapids - 75
3. John Rea, Pinehurst - 75
t4. Samuel Bradley, Sanford - 76
t4. Jackson Wood, Wake Forest - 76
6. Brantley Phillips, Greensboro - 77