Nic Brown (Credit: Carolinas GA)
remained patient when things turned sour in the final round; it translated to a one-shot victory in the Carolinas Amateur championship at Charlotte Country Club over Gene Zeigler
and Scott Harvey
Zeigler, 19, opened his round with two birdies in his first three holes, leaving Brown six shots off the pace.
“I got off to an awful start with a double on the first hole and I almost hit it out of bounds on my second hole,” Brown said. “Gene got off to a hot start so I was just telling myself to be patient. I have played well here all week and I know the opportunities are out there so I just stayed patient and then the putts started to fall.”
However, Brown, who just finished his graduate year at East Carolina University, had played some seriously strong golf in the first three rounds, including a 63 on the second day that included five straight birdies to finish the round. Another birdie streak in the final round gave Brown a bit of life. Just like on day one, Brown rattled off three straight birdies on hole Nos. 5-7.
“Once I made a bunch of good swings in a row, I felt better and started to get more confident in my game,” Brown said. “Then I was able to just keep making good swings down the stretch.”
This wasn't just a two-horse race, though. Mid-Am stalwart Scott Harvey, Greensboro, N.C., started the day five shots behind the leader, Zeigler. Harvey kept in touch with his playing partners, and his 70 was the only score under par in the final group, but he couldn't get anything going to catch his two competitors.
Harvey left an indelible mark on the winner, though.
“Scott is a legend. He is such a nice guy and you can learn so much from him. He has won like 10 of these [CGA Championship titles] and he was actually helping me out there," Brown said. "He kept encouraging me and telling me to keep it going, which was so nice."
That encouragement certainly boosted Brown, as he kept battling throughout the round, even when he made double bogey on the 11th hole.
“Eleven was playing brutal today. It was 230 [yards] into the wind and a 206 [yard] carry over the water. I didn’t hit a bad shot, but it just ballooned up into the wind and went into the water,” Brown said. “I was frustrated after that, but I told myself to just keep grinding. I followed it up with a bunch of good swings on 12 to make a birdie and my ball striking was great after that.”
Zeigler also made a double bogey on 11. It was a missed opportunity to chip away at Zeigler's two-shot lead.
Brown bounced back with a birdie on 12 to cut the lead to one shot. Zeigler tripped up on 13 and made his second double bogey on the back nine. Suddenly Brown was in control and had a one-shot lead; then he grabbed hold of the championship on the 14th hole and didn't let go.
“14 was playing 285 [yards] with the wind down to the right so I hit a good 3-wood that landed on the right edge of the green but rolled down to the back right so I was looking at a 30-yard chip,” Brown remarked while smiling. “I just nipped it perfectly, it ran out and fell in. It was pretty awesome.”
Even though Brown played the last four holes in 2-over par with bogeys on hole Nos. 17 and 18, Zeigler couldn't muster up any birdies. A bogey by Zeigler on the 16h hole gave Brown a three-shot lead, and some room to breath coming down the stretch.
Brown reflected on his first Carolina Golf Association victory following his closing round of 71. He didn't have to celebrate alone.
“My family has been here all week and it isn’t an easy drive getting up here, but they believe in me and I am just really happy that they were able to come," Brown said. "I have worked so hard for this and to come out here and actually execute like I did -- it is just awesome.”
ABOUT THE Carolinas Amateur
The championship is conducted at 72 holes of stroke
play. After 36 holes, there is a cut to the low 60
scores and ties. Entry is open to any male amateur
golfer who has reached his 13th birthday by the first
day of the championship, is a legal resident of North
Carolina or South Carolina, is a member in good
standing of a club which is a member of the CGA
has an active GHIN USGA Handicap Index at a CGA
member club that does not exceed 9.9.
The Frank F. Capers Cup Team Competition is held
during rounds one and two of the Carolinas Amateur
Championship. Three or four bona fide members
from the same club comprise a team. The low three
scores count each round.
Format changed from match play to stroke
play in 2010.
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