After grabbing the third-round lead with a 4-under 68 on Saturday, 17-year-old Nick Lyerly birdied three of his first four holes Sunday and coasted home at the Governors Club with a 71 to become the youngest golfer ever to win the N.C. Amateur Championship.
Lyerly, a rising senior at East Rowan, carded a total of 280 to finish one stroke ahead of Justin Tereshko of Jamestown.
It was the first Carolinas Golf Association championship for Lyerly, who’s won consecutive N.C. high school 3A championships, and the second straight year that the 27-year-old Tereshko finished second in the N.C. Amateur.
“I’ve been close a bunch of times,” said Lyerly said. “To actually come out with a win is great.”
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Stephen Franken of Raleigh carded a 2-under 70 Sunday to finished in third at 282. Tom Conover of Holly Springs matched Tereshko’s 5-under 67 to end up in fourth at 283.
Scott Harvey of Kernersville and second-round leader Thomas Eldridge of Raleigh tied for fifth place with 284 totals.
Rounding out the top 10 were: Akshay Bhatia (285) of Wake Forest; and Wesley Conover of Holly Springs, Blake Taylor of Atkinson and Joseph Cansler of Clemmons, tied at 286 for eighth.
Lyerly started Sunday with a two-shot lead on Eldridge, the second-round leader, and Caleb Keck of Reidsville. The three were grouped in the round’s final threesome.
Keck fell out of contention with two double bogeys on the front nine Sunday and shot a 78 to finish at 289, alone in 14th.
Eldridge, a Millbrook High School alum who’s a rising sophomore at UNC Wilmington, birdied two of the first three holes but couldn’t gain any ground on Lyerly. Eldridge then bogeyed the par-3 fourth and par-4 fifth holes of the Governors Club’s Lakes-Foothills route, while Lyerly birdied the fifth to go 10-under, five strokes in front.
“It started off fine with the birdies, then I got the bogey,” Eldridge said. “I just couldn’t get anything going. Putts wouldn’t fall. But Nick played great.”
Lyerly said he lost his focus a bit on the back nine, bogeying three of the last four holes. Before starting the 18th, he took a peek at the leaderboard for the first time.
“I realized I had a two-shot lead,” Lyerly said. “That took some pressure off.”
Lyerly opted to play safe on the 456-yard 18th. He laid up short of the water in front of the green, lobbed his approach into the middle of the elongated green instead of going for the pin at the back, and settled for a two-putt for a bogey.
Tereshko started his final round with three birdies and added two more, plus an eagle on the 513-yard 13th, to get within two shots off the lead. but then bogeyed the par-four 16th to allow Lyerly some breathing room.
Tereshko, the golf coach at Guilford College, is likely to see Lyerly again. The 2015 N.C. Junior Player of the Year, Lyerly has committed to play golf at UNC Greensboro starting in fall 2017.