With two holes left in the N.C. High School Athletic Association 4A boys’ golf championship, the pressure was getting to Pinecrest senior Eric Bae – and he didn’t even know the half of it.
“I knew the leader in the clubhouse was 1-under at the time. I had a 15-footer for birdie and decided to go for it. It was a downhill putt, so I couldn’t be too aggressive, but I went for it,” said Bae, who sank the putt.
He eagled the par-5 No. 17 at Pinehurst No. 8, then followed it up with a birdie on par-4 No. 18. A few minutes later, he learned he had missed the individual title by two strokes to Leesville Road’s Doc Redman – who shot a blistering 67 on Day 2 – but had helped the Patriots to a one-stroke victory for the team title.
Pinecrest finished the two-day, 36-hole tournament with a 590, just ahead of Charlotte’s Myers Park 591 with Broughton (605) and Green Hope (606) trailing in order.
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Bae, the 2015 champ and his team’s recipient of the NCHSAA sportsmanship award, was one of four Patriots in the top 20, joining A.J. Beechler (T11, 148) and Drew Viney and James Sugg (T17, 151).
“Eric and A.J. had to play under par going down the stretch,” said Pinecrest co-coach Rick Wainwright. “I walked the last two holes with Eric and we kind of felt like a 3-3 from this group would probably win it ... It was a storybook ending for a phenomenal high school career.”
Redman entered the day tied in third place, with everyone looking up at the 67 posted by Blake Wagoner of Hough High (Cornelius). But Wagoner shot a 77 on the second day to fall back and tie Panther Creek’s Viraj Garewal (144) for fourth.
Garewal was 2-under after day 1 and shot a 2-over 74 on Tuesday.
New Hanover’s Tyler Jackson posted a 143, Bae had a 142 and Redman’s 140 stood tops. The top two traded places after last year, when Bae, a Wake Forest recruit, topped Redman for the title.
“I just wanted to come out here and have a good round, and if it was a good round then perfect, and if not that means (Wagoner) played well,” said the senior Clemson recruit. “I scored much better today. I hit it really well both days, but just didn’t make any mistakes today.’
Leesville Road finished in sixth place (619).
Broughton and Green Hope, two state powers with multiple state titles in the past decade, had just one senior each in the lineup (Broughton’s Hardy Hogan and Green Hope’s Rob McPartland) this week.
Broughton’s Patrick Carlin, Will Hawley and Jimbo Stanley each shot a 152 to tie for 20th with a host of other players, includig Middle Creek’s Austin Bonfiglio and Green Hope’s Brian Chen.
“We’re very pleased. We had a very young team. We had a two freshmen, a sophomore and a junior in the lineup today,” Broughton coach Anderson Marlowe said. “Green Hope’s going to be our competition (next year). I think Pinecrest and Myers Park lose a lot of players.”
Chen was one of three Green Hope players in the top 20: McPartland and Jack Massei (150) tied for 15th. Only McPartland graduates out of the five who played in the state tournament.
“We got six strokes better than the day before and that’s what we wanted, to get better every day,” Green Hope coach Mike Robinson said. “It builds on the future for us.”