AUBURN, Ala. — North Surry graduate Taylor Coalson and his college golf team missed making the national tournament by just two strokes.
Coalson, who was the 2A state champion while playing for the Greyhounds, took part in the NCAA regional tournament at Prairie Dunes Country Club last week along with his UNC-Greensboro teammates.
The sophomore shot 71-75-75 in a highly competitive field to finish 24th out of 75 players. After the first round, Coalson was one of seven players who tied for third place.
How good was the competition at this regional? Even the worst player on the worst team didn’t shoot 90 on any of the three days. For the Spartans, all five players broke 80 all three days, yet that wasn’t good enough to qualify for the national tournament.
UNC-G coach Terrance Stewart referred to his squad as the Cinderella as it qualified for the regional level for the first time in team history.
Coalson said he and his teammates want to qualify for nationals not just for themselves, but also for Coach Stewart, who has been with the college for 13 years.
The team looks poised to make it back to regionals next year as all five players will return.
UNC-G, ranked No. 68 in the Golfweek/Sagarin College rankings, includes Coalson and fellow sophomore Luke Haithcock, freshmen Carter Jenkins and Jake McGlone and the elder statesman, junior Roy Dixon.
After winning back-to-back state championships in high school, Coalson received the Southern Conference freshman of the year award last season. This year, he earned all-conference honors as he cut his scoring average by a stroke to 73.4.
He said he finished in the top 20 at seven different tournaments, but still feels like he didn’t accomplish enough.
“I spend every day on my game for the most part,” he said. The maximum number of days a week a coach can have his team practice is six, said Coalson. Still, on that seventh day he would go off on his own and work on things.
With the school year over, Coalson said he is back home for vacation, but will continue to work on his game.
On June 9 he will take part in the Monroe Invitational Tournament in Rochester, New York. The second week of July he goes to Hilton Head, South Carolina, for the Players Amateur Tournament. Then comes the Cardinal in Greensboro, which he won last year.
Coalson would love to qualify for a PGA event. The past two years he just missed the cut for the U.S. Open. He shot a 70 both times; that was one shot over the cut last year and three shots high this year.
He also played in a qualifying tournament for the U.S. Amateurs. He shot 72-71 and came up four strokes high of the cut.
This year’s U.S. Open is at Pinehurst #2, a course that Coalson said he has played about a dozen times. If he had made the field, he believes he could have made some noise on the familiar course.
NCAA Regional Results
1 1 1 Alabama 287 284 282 853 -11
T5 3 2 Kennesaw State 297 291 287 875 +11
3 2 3 Auburn 294 292 292 878 +14
11 4 4 Virginia Tech 301 291 290 882 +18
2 T5 5 Texas 293 300 291 884 +20
12 9 6 New Mexico 302 295 288 885 +21
7 7 T7 UNCG 298 296 292 886 +22
8 T5 T7 Brigham Young 299 294 293 886 +22
UNC-G Team Scores
UNCG 298 296 292 886
T15 Roy Dixon (1) 72 75 71 218
T24 Taylor Coalson (5) 71 75 75 221
T34 Jake McGlone (4) 79 71 74 224
T44 Carter Jenkins (2) 77 75 75 227
T52 Luke Haithcock (3) 78 79 72 229