STATESVILLE — The high school golf season is over, but several local standouts from a season where both Mount Airy and East Surry qualified for the NCHSAA state finals are playing on.
Several Bears and Cardinals, along with Seth Bibey of South Stokes High School, tried their luck at qualifying for the 50th annual N.C. Junior Boys’ Championship, hosted by the Carolinas Golf Association (CGA) this year on June 27-30 at the Colonial Country Club in Thomasville.
In order to qualify for the field, players who didn’t qualify automatically based on their performance in in-season junior tournaments had to take part in one of two qualifying tournaments held around North Carolina. The event is open to all male amateur golfers between the ages of 12 and 18 who have not started college yet, meaning that anyone on any local high school team who wished to try to qualify could do so.
Single-day qualifying events were held on June 10 at Wedgewood Golf Club in Wilson and on Wednesday at Statesville Country Club. Among those competing in Statesville were Bibey, the Bears’ Sam Nester, and Landon Barnes and Jason Moore of East Surry. They were part of a field of 68 players, with the cut falling at 6-over-par 78 on the 6,500-yard, par-72 golf course.
Nester was the only one of the four to make it into the field. The rising junior shot 39-38 — 77, earning a spot comfortably in clearing the cut by a stroke. Unfortunately, Barnes, a rising sophomore, was on the wrong side of the cut, shooting 39-40 — 79 and missing out by a single stroke. Moore (39-43) and Bibey (41-41), both shot 82 on the afternoon. They are both rising junior who will have two more chances to play in the state championship if they can qualify.
Christian Bailey of Matthews, a graduating senior from Butler High School, won the Statesville qualifier by shooting 35-32 — 67 to take the event by three strokes. Just six golfers broke par on the day.
Nester earned his way into the field despite being ranked just 277th in the state’s junior ranks by the Tarheel Youth Golf Association (TYGA). Only the top 100 golfers on their list earned automatic qualification. However, he was 19th in the state at the NCHSAA 1A state golf championships on May 8.
In addition to competing for Mount Airy High School, Nester has also competed in a number of TYGA sanctioned events over the past two years. His best performance came on June 20 of last year, when he played in the Triad One-Day Series tournament and tied for fourth place with a score of 75.
The Junior Boys’ Championship is a four-day tournament with a mixed format. On Tuesday, June 27, the players will play 18 holes of stroke play, with the top 64 finishers advancing to match play. From June 28-30, six rounds of match play will determine who the 2017 state junior champion is. The course is a par-71, 6,605 yard layout, and there are no age divisions.
Reach John via Twitter at @johncate73.