Garrett Risner (Carolinas G.A. photo)
Garrett Risner of Holly Springs, N.C., takes home additional CGA hardware, winning the 14th North Carolina Amateur Match Play Championship at Cedarwood Country Club in Charlotte, N.C. Risner won the Championship Match 1 up over Cyrus Stewart of Raleigh, N.C.
This popular event began with 64 players, separated into foursomes, to compete in Group Play, a new format this year. The third and final round on Thursday, followed two rounds of Group Play on Wednesday. After Thursday's play, the field was cut to 16 players, with the top player in each Group Play foursome advancing to Bracket Play beginning Friday.
Risner and Stewart made for an exciting match in the Championship Match on Saturday afternoon as they went back and forth throughout the entire round, leaving it to the 18th hole to determine the champion. Risner was up for the entire front nine until Stewart won holes 8 and 9 with strong putting to tie the match as they made the turn. Like a dramatic heavyweight fight, the players then began going punch for punch.
Stewart went on to win hole 11 and go 1 up, but Risner came back to win hole 13 to tie things up again. Then it was back to Risner with a birdie on 14 to go 1 up, followed by Stewart winning the 15th hole with a clutch par putt to tie the match again after a poorly played hole by both. Risner would go 1 up after winning hole 16 with a nice ten-foot putt to take the lead once and for all, staying strong through the last two holes of play. Finally, on the 18th, Risner would make a vital twelve-foot birdie putt to secure the victory.
The match had a large gallery behind the 18th green watching the two hit their approach shots and putting the pressure on their final putts. Risner sank his putt for birdie, gave the crowd a big fist pump, and sealed the 14th North Carolina Amateur Match Play Championship in dramatic fashion.
His victory comes just a few weeks after his monumental win at the 109th Carolinas Amateur Championship on July 15th at Pine Needles. Risner, a standout player at Elon University, was a 2023 All-CAA Second Team recipient.
"I think I played better in this one (compared to the Carolinas Amateur), I made a lot more birdies, and I think I played very well," said a relieved Risner following his win.
The road to get to the trophy in this format is always challenging. Earlier in the morning on Saturday, Risner went up against James Rico of Cary, N.C. Risner always kept Rico from getting the lead in this Semifinal Match. After tying the first two holes, Risner birdied hole 3 to go 1 up and then birdied hole 5 to go 2 up. Risner was 2 up at the turn, but Rico battled to shrink Risner's lead and tie the match through 13. Risner was 1 up through 17 and won the 18th hole to win the match 2 up.
For Stewart to get to the Championship Match, he had to defeat Landson Robbins of Davidson, N.C. In this Semifinal Match, Robbins led through five holes, but Stewart managed to tie the match and go 1 up before making the turn. Stewart remained up throughout the entire back nine. He was 1 up through 15, even as Robbins continued battling with Stewart to the 18th hole. After sinking a crucial putt on the eighteenth, Stewart earned a spot in the Championship Match by winning 1 up.
Risner recorded a decisive win over Alex Heffner of Harrisburg, N.C., in the Quarterfinals, by winning the match 5 & 4. Stewart beat Harrison Wierse of Wilmington, N.C., in his Quarterfinals 3 & 2.
When asked about the grind of Match Play, Risner said, "I started well (the final match), but I was feeling it, I was tired, but I knew if I could get into it, kinda get the adrenaline going, it would go away."
Both my (final two) matches were really good, James played really well this morning, ...and Cyrus hung around and even took the lead at the start of the back nine, and I had to grind my way back to get control of it", added Risner.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.
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