Lyerly, Edwards are six strokes back at NC Amateur
By Dennis Davidson
Defending champion Nick Lyerly got off to a tough start Thursday at the 57th North Carolina Amateur, but the East Rowan graduate regrouped and shot a 2-over par 74.
Lyerly started on the back nine at Davidson’s River Run Country Club and two bogeys and a double bogey left him at 3-over 39. However, on the front nine, Lyerly shot a 1-under 35, with one birdie and eight pars.
A UNC Greensboro signee, Lyerly became the youngest ever to win the N.C. Amateur, last year at Governor’s Club in Chapel Hill. His four-round score was 8-under par 280 (70-71-68-71).
“The back nine is a little harder than the front nine there, so that probably had a little to do with it,” said Lyerly, about yesterday’s opening round of his title defense. “Of course, on the double bogey, I missed a bogey putt of about two feet (on the par-4 15th hole). It was just a total lack of concentration.
Lyerly immediately returned to form.
“I made two bounce-back pars on 16 and 17, and I was kind of proud of myself for that because they are pretty hard holes,” he said. “So coming off a double, that put me back on track. Then I played pretty solid, stress-free golf on the front side.”
After Thursday, Lyerly trails leader Logan Harrell, of Huntersville, who carded a 68, by six strokes. Lyerly trailed by just two strokes after the first round last year. He got closer on the second day and took the lead with a third-round 68.
“I’m still in contention, there’s no doubt about it,” added Lyerly. “It’s that deal where you can’t win on the first day but you can definitely take yourself out of it. So I stayed in it, but to have a chance this weekend, I probably need to get back to even-par on Friday.”
Right there with Lyerly at 2-over par (74) is Salisbury’s Eric Edwards, a rising senior at George Mason University. Edwards, who finished tied for 32nd in last year’s N.C. Amateur at 299, also had a 39 on the River Run back nine and a 35 on the front.
Edwards had all pars except one birdie and three bogeys. He and Lyerly are tied for 30th place.
Other local golfers in the event are Michael Childress, of Salisbury and Cannon School, Logan Shuping of Salisbury and East Carolina, Davis Richards, of China Grove and N.C. State, and Kevin Lentz, of Rockwell.
Childress, a rising senior at Cannon School in Concord, is tied for 37th after a 3-over par 75. Childress also had just one birdie, but a solid round on the same day that he announced his college commitment to the University of Richmond.
One shot behind Childress at 4-over par 76 was Shuping, another East Rowan graduate who just completed his freshman season at East Carolina University. Shuping is tied for 52nd place.
Richards, a rising junior on the N.C. State golf team, struggled on Thursday, carding an 80. He is tied for 106th, along with Lentz, who also shot 80.
Lentz, a solid local golfer, finished runner-up in last summer’s Horace Billings Rowan Amateur, and has been part of the runner-up team at the Labor Day event.
Lansdon Robbins, Childress’ teammate at Cannon School, shot a 3-under 69 and is tied for second place with Chad Frye, of Davidson, and Brady Eckard of Conover.
Shooting 70s were Stuart Fuller of Chapel Hill, Austin Northern of Blowing Rock and Paul Tucker of Waxhaw.
The N.C. Amateur Championship began in 1961 and is the state championship for men ages 13 and over. The championship is conducted at 72 holes of stroke play.
After 36 holes, the field is cut to the low 60 scores and ties for the final two rounds. Entry was open to any male amateur golfer who is a legal resident of North Carolina, is a member in good standing of a club which is a member of the Carolinas Golf Association and has an active GHIN® USGA Handicap Index® that does not exceed 7.4.
The Carolina Golf Association contributed to this article.