Carter Jenkins struggled to get much going in the final round of the N.C. Men’s Amateur Championship at the Country Club of Landfall, until it mattered most.
Jenkins, a junior at North Carolina, drained an eagle putt on the 17th hole of the Nicklaus course to complete a rally from a three-stroke deficit and take the seventh Carolinas Golf Association title of his amateur career.
“I didn’t have a whole lot going for me and I felt like I missed a chance at the 14th,” Jenkins said. “But then I hit a good drive on 17. I saw my opening. … And I hit a 6-iron from 190 yards to about 10- or 12-feet and made the putt.”
Greensboro’s Justin Tereshko entered the final round three clear of the field, but he couldn’t muster an under-par round to hold off Jenkins. Tereshko finished at 10-under. His last two holes were costly. He pulled his tee shot on the 17th into an area of pine straw – the opening Jenkins mentioned — and couldn’t reach the green in two like Jenkins did.
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On the 18th, Tereshko hit his approach to within about 8 feet, but his putt to force a playoff hung just on the high side of the hole. Jenkins tapped in a 2-footer after the miss to wrap up the victory.
“It’s a great feeling to win again,” said Jenkins, who transferred to UNC after spending his freshman season at UNC Greensboro. “I didn’t feel like I was striking the ball really well early, but I hit a great tee shot on 16, then on the 17th and on 18.”
Jenkins, who is believed to be the first person to hold the Carolinas Amateur (two-time defending champion) and N.C. Men’s Amateur titles jointly, said playing in the final group made it easier to know where he was in the championship chase. Both he and Tereskho struggled through the middle portion of their rounds.
The first key eagle for Jenkins on the day came at the opening par-5 first hole where he dropped in an 18-foot putt to quickly put pressure on the leader. He added a birdie at the seventh, another par 5, but made all pars (aside from a bogey at the 11th) until the 17th hole.
Jenkins spent Father’s Day with his dad, Bob, who caddied for the Triangle area standout when he played in the professional Rex Hospital Open as a high school student. He was one of five Triangle area collegiate golfers to finish in the top eight.
Raleigh’s Thomas Eldridge, a Millbrook grad and a sophomore at UNC Wilmington, was third at 279 after a final round 3-under-par, 69.
Wes Conover of Holly Springs and East Carolina University tied for fourth at 7 under and Clayton’s David Germann (the University of Richmond) was sixth at -6. Alex Smalley of Wake Forest took eighth at 284 (-4).
The top 30 finishers earned an automatic bid into next year’s tournament.
Sunday was the only normal day of play at the 72-hole, stroke play event. Thursday’s first round was halted by severe thunderstorms that littered the course with limbs and other debris.
Play was halted until mid-morning on Friday and then another round of thunderstorms halted play in the late afternoon.
Some players like Raleigh’s Eldridge were forced to play two full rounds on Saturday. The final round went off without a hitch — other than the typical June heat and humidity of the Cape Fear region.
“It was definitely a different experience, having a day off between rounds because of the weather,” said Eldridge, who was recently named rookie of the year in the Colonial Athletic Association. “But everybody here did a great job to get things back to normal and it was a great tournament.”
The CGA championship is the ninth of Jenkins’ career. He won his first – the N.C. 13-and-Under Championship – a day after turning 13.