Kenan Poole (Carolinas Golf Association photo)
After four days of stroke play, Kenan Poole
of Raleigh, N.C. secured the 62nd North Carolina Amateur Championship title after sinking a 15-foot birdie putt on the first playoff hole against Ryan O’Neil
of Waxhaw, N.C.
Poole started the week in a four-way tie for first with Davis Womble
of Winston-Salem, N.C. at 6-under-par, 66. After the first round, Womble pulled ahead of the field, with Poole consistently staying within striking distance, and led the championship for the next 51 holes including the majority of the final round today, up until No. 16.
Coming into the final round on Sunday, Poole held the second position at 13-under-par, 203 while Womble held the lead at 15-under-par, 201. O’Neil rounded out the final pairing in third at 12-under-par, 204.
“Davis is an unbelievable player. The first time I ever played with him was yesterday and I feel like he just never made a mistake. He was bogey-free and honestly still could have played even better which is scary to think about,” Poole said. “I knew it was going to be a long day today coming in with a couple of us at the top and we all just kept switching around on the leaderboard so being patient was so important.”
Poole started his round with a bogey on No. 1, but was able to get back to even-par with a birdie on No. 7 and make the turn just one shot back from Womble at 13-under-par. O’Neil turned at 12-under-par, but a birdie on No. 10 quickly put him in a tie for second with Poole and back in the hunt.
On the back nine, Womble’s shotmaking waivered, which opened up an opportunity for Poole to see a shot at the victory. Within the last four holes, Womble carded two bogeys and one double-bogey allowing both Poole and O’Neil to seize the opportunity. After a great par for O’Neil on No. 16, he took the lead for the first time in the championship at 13-under-par, leaving Womble and Poole tied for second at 12-under-par.
On No. 18, Womble bogeyed and Poole carded a par, opening up an opportunity for O’Neil to win the tournament with a par putt. He was not able to capitalize on that, which sent him and Poole into a playoff after finishing at 12-under-par, 276 overall.
The playoff began on No. 18. O’Neil hit his tee shot into a fairway bunker on the left side of the hole, while Poole hit it about the same distance to the rough on the right side. O’Neil hit a nice shot out of the bunker to about 150 yards and then stuck his approach shot to 20 feet out. Poole’s second shot landed in the mulch below a tree on the right side of the green and he hit a great shot to about 15 feet. Both O’Neil and Poole had looks at birdie, but O’Neil narrowly missed his putt and tapped in for par. This left Poole standing over a 15-foot putt for birdie to take home the title.
“I had a good line on my ball, kind of knew where the putt was gonna break,” Poole said. “I definitely was nervous over the putt, but I made a really good confident stroke, perfect pace, dropped dead center, so I couldn’t have asked for much more.”
While Poole has won three CGA junior championships, this was his first amateur championship win. He emphasized how great it felt to win in his home state on Father’s Day surrounded by family and friends, especially with his dad following every shot along the way.
“I’m super happy and a little emotional, having my dad here on Father’s Day. It is a great way to start the summer with a big win,” Poole said. “It is the state amateur so I had a lot of friends playing in it and it was just a great tournament. I am super happy to have this win.”
Ultimately, Womble tied for third with Preston Dembowiak of Kernersville, N.C. at 11-under-par, 277. Peter Bowie of Asheville, N.C. and Noah Connor of Reidsville, N.C. tied for fifth at 9-under-par, 279. Notably, Bowie carded the low round of the day at 5-under-par, 67 in the final round.
ABOUT THE North Carolina Amateur
Open in all amateur male golfers age 13 or older.
be a resident of North Carolina and a
member of a CGA member club with an index 9.9
below. An 18-hole sectional qualifier is required for
those that do not meet the exemption criteria.
consists of 72 holes of stroke play with a cut to the
60 and ties after 36 holes.
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