North Carolina Amateur Champion Eric Bae (CGA photo)
DURHAM, N.C. (August 6, 2017) -- Eric Bae is a winner again.
The Pinehurst resident won his first Carolinas Golf Association trophy since 2015 at the North Carolina Amateur today at Treyburn Country Club. Not that the win was an eternity, but when you're a young player trying to make a mark, it can seem that way.
Using the match play event as a tune-up for his trip to the U.S. Amateur on August 14-20 at Riviera and Bel-Air Country Clubs in Southern California, Bae got more than he bargained for, winning match after match against worthy opponents. By the time Sunday rolled around, he was well less than one week from his flight west, where he will face 311 of the best players in the world.
But he had work to do first.
In the final round, the Wake Forest Univ. incoming sophomore faced another Division I golfer, UNC Greensboro rising junior Bryce Hendrix, 20.
Early in the final match, Bae lipped out three birdie putts against medalist (and No. 1 seed) Hendrix. But he wasn't worried, because his ball striking was spot on.
"After the first few holes, even though I didn't have any putts drop, I knew I was going to continue to hit good shots and have more opportunities," Bae, a 19-year-old Pinehurst resident, told the CGA.
Hendrix, who posted a 7-under-par total over 36 holes to earn medalist honors, had only seen one of his previous matches go 18 holes.
With early match nerves easing, the two formidable players started taking advantage of their solid shots -- Bae converting birdie on No. 5 and Hendrix following suit on the 6th. Bae answered with a birdie on the 8th and the two golfers matched birdies on the par-5 9th to give Bae a 1-up lead heading to the back nine.
After Hendrix birdied the par-5 11th to square the match, Bae made birdie from the fringe on the par-4 12th to reclaim his lead and a 30-foot birdie on the par-3 13th to extend it to 2 up.
And get this - Bae didn't miss a green in regulation until the 12th hole, and by such a small margin that he was able to convert for birdie. That's tough to beat.
On the par-4 14th, shortened to 275 yards for the final match, Bae choked-down on his driver, ripping his tee shot within 6 feet of the hole. "I wanted to play smart the whole week. I'm usually pretty aggressive," said Bae. "This week I did a good job of deciding when to hold back or when to attack the holes."
Indeed, Bae converted the eagle putt to claim a 3 up lead with four holes to play, and could put it on cruise control coming in.
Hendrix did make a nice birdie on No. 15 to have a fighting chance, but a three putt on No. 16 did him in.
"I didn't play bad," said Hendrix "I just didn't make as many putts as I needed. Eric played great, he deserves it."
Bae heads to California with a lot of momentum, not only here but with a T9 finish at the Cardinal Amateur, and a round-of-16 showing at the North & South, another match play event. He will hope to make match play at Riviera (where matches are being played) and leverage the success he had in Durham this week.
View results for North Carolina Amateur Match Play
ABOUT THE North Carolina Amateur Match Play
Open to any male amateur golfer 13 and older. Must
a resident of North Carolina and a member of a CGA
club with an index no greater than 9.9. Sectional
qualifying is required for those who do not meet the
exemption criteria. Format consists of 36 holes of
stroke play qualifying followed by a cut to the low 32
players for match play.
View Complete Tournament Information