Kelly Mitchum wins North Carolina Open as Ams finish 2-3
Peter Fountain (L) and Blake Taylor
Peter Fountain (L) and Blake Taylor

Championship golf in the Carolina's PGA Section came back from a long break Tuesday. But it almost didn't. Equipment Panelist Ed Donlin reported on his involvement in helping the tournament go off as planned, after a member of The Carolinas PGA (who runs the event) had tested positive for COVID-19.

Here is Donlin's report, followed by results of the tournament. But we'll start here, because as with everything else since March, COVID-19 is part of the story.

The North Carolina Open has been at Irish Creek [Where Ed is a member] every year for the last 10 years, except last year when they moved it to Trump Charlotte. It was supposed to be there this year, but two weeks ago Trump Charlotte decided to not allow them to play so they came back and asked us at Irish Creek if we would host it again.

The Carolinas PGA section came down last Wednesday to mark the golf course and get ready for the tournament. On Thursday they found out one of their staff had tested positive for COVID-19. They all had to quarantine.

So they called the Carolinas Golf Association, Executive Director Jack Nance and Jason Cox said they would run it.

The rules officials were not part of the section staff so they were OK. They asked me to come in and do all the scoring. It went off without a hitch. It just shows how well golf organizations and the people in golf stick together.

The other thing that has been really neat is the way we are doing scoring. They are handed a scorecard of one of the players in their group on the first tee and they keep that score all the way. When they get to the scoring area they each read out the scores from their card. I entered them directly in Blue Golf on my laptop which the screen duplicated to a television next to me. They look at the screen verify that all of the numbers are correct and when they all agree I press save and that is them signing their card. We then have them throw all the cards in a box and save them as back up. It is the most efficient scoring I have ever done. No group has been here for more than three minutes.

Players were given a set of guidelines in advance of the tournament about how to use the practice range, how early to arrive, and other social-distancing specific rules and advisories for the tournament.


Kelly Mitchum (Carolinas PGA photo)
Prior to this week, the amateurs have taken it to the pros at the North Carolina Open for four of the last five years, after amateur Jake McGlone lost in a playoff in 2014. College coach Justin Tereshko won in 2015, am David Kocher won back-to-back titles in 2016 and 2017, and Patrick Cover took the title in 2018. Their streak was broken in 2019, by Ryan Tyndall of the Reserve Golf Club in South Carolina.

Just a shot back that year? PGA Professional Kelly Mitchum of Pinehurst.

Tuesday, Mitchum came our on top at 10-under-par, recording 11 birdies and just one bogey for the 36-hole event. But the amateurs still did very, very well.

Mitchum is well decorated in the Carolinas, having won the Carolinas Open twice and being named Bob Boyd Player of the Year seven times. He adds his first North Carolina Open trophy to his trophy case, and can thank the Carolinas Golf Association for rallying their troops and stepping in for the Carolinas PGA.


Tying the low round of the tournament (a bogey free 65) amateur Peter Fountain of Raleigh, NC finished with a 36-hole total of 8-under-par to finish two shots behind Mitchum in second place. Mitchum is headed to University of North Carolina Chapel Hill this fall and has a bright collegiate career ahead of him, no matter when they get started competing.

Amateur Blake Taylor (Atkinson, NC) carded a 36-total of 6-under-par to finish T3 with Steve Scott (The Outpost Club), Cory Schneider (The Pointe GC). It was another close call for Taylor, who finished tied for second with Mitchum in 2019. He recently concluded his senior year at East Carolina University.

Other amateurs finishing in the top 10 included Ethan Hall of Morehead City, NC and Walker Cress of Concord, NC. The pair finished T6 at 5-under Rounding out the top ten is amateur Patrick Stephenson (Four Oaks, NC) who shot two solid rounds of 69 to finish at 4-under-par for the championship.

View results for North Carolina Open
ABOUT THE North Carolina Open

The North Carolina Open is open to both amateurs and PGA professionals. It is organized by the Carolinas section of the PGA of America. 54-hole stroke play. The field is reduced to the low 60 contestants (or 1/3 of the field if 140 or less) and ties after 36 holes.

Interesting Fact: Both state opens run by the Carolinas section, the North Carolina Open and the South Carolina Open, are the only ones in the United States that prohibit non-PGA professionals from competing. It has been played annually since 1965 at a variety of courses around the state.

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