South Johnston freshman Patrick Stephenson continued his stellar debut season with a second place finish in the 3A eastern regional championship at Jacksonville Country Club. Stephenson carded a round of 1-over-par, 73, the same as regional champion Reggie Crews of Jacksonville.
Crews, a senior playing on a very familiar hometown layout, prevailed in the one-hole playoff with a par, but Stephenson wasn’t disappointed for long with the playoff loss since he’d reached his only goal of the day: a state championship berth.
“Putting was the key today, I made a lot of putts,” Stephenson said. “My iron game was on as well. … My goal was just to get to states today. I figured if I shot 75, I’d have a chance to do that today.”
Stephenson caught his approach on the first hole a little heavy, left it short of the green and made bogey, while Crews hit his approach to within 10 feet and two-putted for the playoff win.
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Play on the par 5s was a trouble spot for the left-handed South Johnston freshman. He bogeyed three of them on the day, all after hitting bad tee shots.
However, Stephenson has been a model of consistency this season. He didn’t have a score of higher than 78 during Eastern Carolina 3A Conference play this season, posting a 74.1 scoring average.
“It’s all been about practicing the same way and keeping working hard,” Stephenson said. “If I keep a consistent golf swing, your results are going to be consistent.”
Currituck took the regional team title at 319, a shot ahead of Greenville Conley. West Brunswick got the final team state berth with a 332 total.
Cleveland tied for eighth in the regional, with Jared Lisec’s 82 leading the Rams. Patrick Schweitz added an 83 for the Rams and Jared Lisec shot 87.
South Johnston took 10th in the team standings with Zach Stephenson adding a 89 for the Trojans. Quinton Toler shot 90 for South.
“My goal is to win,” Patrick Stephenson said of this coming week’s state championship, 36-hole event at Foxfire Golf and Country Club. “You have to hit fairways if you’re going to have a chance to score. And it’s about putting well. If I putt well, I usually play well, which is what you can say about almost everybody. It’s all about the putting.”