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Players to Watch at 9th Carolinas Young Amateur

Jackson Spires and Jessica Spicer (Photos: East Carolina and Virginia Tech)

SOUTHERN PINES, N.C. (December 22, 2017) – The Carolinas Golf Association’s 2017 championship season wraps up with the 9th Carolinas Young Amateur to be held December 28-29 on the Magnolia course at Pinewild Country Club in Pinehurst, N.C. The tournament format is 36 holes of stroke play for male and female amateur golfers ages 18 to 25 from North Carolina or South Carolina who have finished high school and have a current USGA handicap Index at a CGA member club. Trophies will be awarded to the top five spots in each division. Due to NCAA regulations, gift certificates will not be issued.

Related: Championship Web Site Championship History | Participants

Last year's first-round leaders, Jessica Spicer of Bahama, N.C. and Jackson Spires of Fayetteville, N.C., return to the Magnolia course eager to claim their first Carolinas Young Amateur title. Both players demonstrated their ability to make birdies on the Gene Hamm layout. Spires began the 2016 Carolinas Young Amateur by recording seven birdies en route to a six-under-par opening round. Spicer ended the tournament last year with three closing birdies on her final six holes.

Originally designed by Gene Hamm, the par-72 Magnolia course at Pinewild Country Club opened to rave reviews in 1989, and within two months was ranked as one of the top 50 courses in the entire southeastern United States by Golf Week. The Magnolia has seen a complete multi-million dollar redesign, to include new greens complexes with Crenshaw Bent Grass, bunkers and cart paths. The result is a fantastic layout with emphasis on risk-reward golf. In an area that boasts numerous award-winning courses, the Magnolia remains a local favorite. The course is characterized by vast elevation changes, generous driving areas, and challenging greens.

Notables in this year’s women’s field include:

Jessica Spicer of Bahama, N.C. Spicer, the third-ranked woman in the Carolinas, is a sophomore at Virginia Tech. The runner-up at last year's championship, she captured the North Carolina Women's Amateur in June. As a junior golfer, Spicer was the 2014 Carolinas Junior Girls’ Player of the Year, won the Carolinas Girls’ Championship in 2014 and was named all-state three years in a row.

Kelli Murphy of Elgin, S.C. Murphy, a senior at Auburn University, won the Carolinas Young Amateur in 2014 and has four other CGA titles. Murphy has played in two U.S. Women’s Amateurs (2013 and 2015) and was a four-time all-state selection in high school. In 2012, Murphy was named the Carolinas Junior Girls’ Player of the Year.

Reona Hirai of Summerville, S.C. Hirai, a junior at Furman University, partnered with Murphy to win the Carolinas Women's Four-Ball this year. Hirai is ranked 5th among Carolinas women.

Other women to watch are Natalie Petersen of Holly Springs, N.C.; Sarah Spicer of Bahama, N.C.; Jaelyn Tindal of Rock Hill, S.C.; Jodee Tindal of Rock Hill, S.C.

Notables in this year’s men’s field include:

Eric Bae of Pinehurst, N.C. Bae, a sophomore at Wake Forest, is ranked sixth in the Carolinas. This year, he tallied his third overall CGA title at the North Carolina Amateur Match Play. As a junior golfer, Bae was the 2014 Carolinas Junior Boys’ Player of the Year and named all-state four years in a row. Bae also won the 2015 Creed Boys’ Invitational and the 2010 NC Junior Boys' 13 & Under Championship.

Nicholas Lyerly of Salisbury, N.C., Lyerly, a two-time N.C. Junior Player of the Year (2015, 2016), became the youngest player to win the North Carolina Amateur at age 17 in 2016. A freshman at UNC - Greensboro, Lyerly posted a 73.47 stroke average, ranking 13th in the Southern Conference in the fall.

Ryan Marter of Columbia, S.C. Marter teamed with Jack Parrott to win the Carolinas Four-Ball in May. In the summer, he finished runner-up at the South Carolina Amateur, placed third at the Carolinas Amateur, and qualified for the U.S. Amateur. Marter is ranked 10th in the Carolinas.

Jackson Spires of Fayetteville, N.C. Spires led after the first round of last year's championship before finishing 10th. A redshirt senior at East Carolina University, in 2017 Spires was runner-up at the Cardinal Amateur, placed 8th at the CPGA North Carolina Open, T13 at the North Carolina Amateur, and T23 at the Carolinas Amateur. Spires is currently the 12th ranked player in the Carolinas.

Other men to watch are Walker Cress of Concord, N.C.; Justin Hood of St. Matthew, S.C.; Brett McLamb of Coats, N.C.; Nolan Mills, IV of Charlotte, N.C.; Jack Parrott of Columbia, S.C.; Grant Powell of Colfax, N.C.; Christian Salzer of Sumter, S.C.; Patrick Stephenson of Four Oaks, N.C.; Blake Taylor of Atkinson, N.C.; and Austin Zoller of Summerville, S.C.


Schedule of events:
Thursday, December 28, 2017
10:30 am First-round of stroke play (18 holes) shotgun start
Tournament lunch for players immediately following play

Friday, December 29, 2017
10:30 am Final-round of stroke play (18 holes) shotgun start
Tournament lunch for players and awards presentation immediately following play


Pinewild CC information:
Address: 1 Pinewild Country Club Drive, Pinehurst, NC 28374
Golf shop phone: 910-295-5145
Architect: Gene Hamm
Men’s yardage/par: 6,925 yards/par 72
Women’s yardage/par: 5,796 yards/par 72


About the Carolinas Golf Association (CGA)

The CGA is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit educational organization that was founded in 1909 to promote and to protect the game of golf in the Carolinas by providing competitions, education, support and benefits to golf clubs and golfers. The CGA is the second largest golf association in the country with over 700 member clubs represented by nearly 150,000 individuals.

The CGA annually conducts 48 championships and five team match competitions for men, women, juniors, and seniors. It also runs over 150 One-Day (net and gross) events as well as qualifying for USGA national championships. The CGA serves golf in the Carolinas with numerous programs such as: the USGA Handicap System; tournament management software and support; course measuring and course/slope ratings; agronomy consultation; answers about the Rules of Golf, Rules of Amateur Status, and Handicapping; Carolinas Golf Magazine; Interclub series; Tarheel Youth Golf Association; Carolinas Golf Hall of Fame; expense assistance for USGA Junior and Girls' Junior qualifiers from the Carolinas; and the Carolinas Golf Foundation (CGF). The CGF has distributed nearly $2,000,000 since 1977 to benefit Carolinas' golf initiatives including junior and women's programs.    

For more information about the CGA, visit our website.




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