Golf: Lyerly makes charge, grabs spot in U.S. Amateur

Published 9:47 pm Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Staff report

ADVANCE — Nick Lyerly needed an extraordinary round to qualify for the U.S. Amateur, and he produced it on Wednesday with an 8-under 64.

Only five golfers were going to qualify at 7,000-yard Oak Valley  Golf Club in Advance. It didn’t appear Lyerly, an East Rowan graduate and rising sophomore at UNC Greensboro, would be one of them after he shot 1-over 73 on Tuesday and found himself 10 strokes off a sizzling pace, in a distant tie for 31st. He stood five shots behind the group tied for fifth. That left a lot of ground to make up, with only 18 holes to do it.

“I didn’t know if I could do it or not,” Lyerly said. “But it meant there was a very simple game plan for Round 2— make a lot of birdies.”

Lyerly, who was coming off a win on Sunday in the prestigious Eastern Amateur, had struck the ball well in the first round, but the putts weren’t falling. He’d made three birdies, but they’d been off-set by a double bogey and a pair of bogeys.

“It’s not like I played badly, but I couldn’t get anything going,” Lyerly said.

Wednesday was a different story. Lyerly put together a near-perfect round. No bogeys and  there were flurries of birdies — on 2,4,5,10, 12, 13, 15 and 18.

“I didn’t miss a fairway and  hit 17 greens in regulation,” Lyerly said. “I had a lot of close birdie looks and made most of them.”

Lyerly surged into a four-way tie for third place at 7-under 137  and secured a top-five spot after a playoff.

The U.S. Amateur will be held at Pebble Beach and Spyglass Hill on Aug. 13-19. Those are legendary courses, demanding tests of golf. Stroke play will reduce a 312-golfer field to 64 for match play. The 36-hole championship match will play out on the final day.

“Super excited about going to California,” Lyerly said.

Brian Lee, the Warrior Golf Club pro who is Lyerly’s swing coach, served as his caddie.

Salisbury’s Michael Childress shot 74-73  and finished at 3-over 147. The future University of Richmond golfer made four birdies on Wednesday but he also had a double bogey and couldn’t get back in contention.

Will Gordon, from Davidson, took medalist honors with rounds of 63 and 68. Charlotte’s Jake McGlone shot 65-70 — 135 for second place. Brandon Einstein (Clemmons) was in that tie for third with Lyerly and seized third place with a birdie on the first playoff hole. Lyerly and Jackson Van Paris (Pinehurst) got the last two spots with their pars on the second playoff hole.

The two alternates are Jamie Wilson (Mount Pleasant, S.C.)  and Matthew Sharpstene (Asheville).