Locals Deliver Respect in N&S Junior Championships
Moore County was well represented this week in the 31st North and South Junior Amateur Championships.
Six local golfers -- Summer Barmore, Samantha Gilder, Katie Roberts, Sam Kosich, Sam Packard and Bryan Stewart -- competed in the 54-hole Championship held this week at Pinehurst Resort on courses 2, 5 and 8. Packard was the top local finisher. He put together a final round 76 on No. 2 Thursday to finish seven strokes behind the winner.
Grayson Murray of Raleigh won the boys' championship after a nine-hole playoff with Matt Ball Jr. of Richmond, Va. Both finished the three-day event with 213 totals, with Ball vaulting into a tie after shooting a final round 69. Murray had a 72.
Allison Emrey of Charlotte took the girls' championship with a 214 total, including a final round 72 on No. 5. She entered the final round leading Collins Bradshaw of Columbia, S. C., by one stroke. Bradshaw and Katherine Perry of Cary would finished tied for second with 216 totals.
Kosich finished with a 241 total, while Stewart finished the three-day championship with a 239 total. In the girls' division, Gilder was the top local female finisher. Putting together a 79-81-78 -- 238, she finished in mid-pack. Barmore posted a 258 total, while Roberts finished with a 253 total.
For Packard and the other locals, there is a sense of pride in representing the Sandhills in one of the premier events for amateur golfers.
"It has been great to grow up in an area where there is so much history behind the game of golf," said Packard. "To be able to stand on the same green Payne Stewart won at the U.S. Open in dramatic fashion is just unbelievable. In almost every tournament when someone asks me where I am from and I say Pinehurst, they always want to know what it's like to play historic course No. 2.
"I feel very fortunate to have been raised in such a great golf community and surrounded by people who love the game."
The boys played their final round of the invitation-only tournament at No. 2 and the girls finished the tournament on No. 5.
Kosich and all three local golfers attend Pinecrest High School and are teammates on the Patriot boys' golf team.
Packard is a rising senior at Pinecrest High and has lived in Pinehurst his whole life.
As a Patriot he has been in the starting five on the golf team since he was a freshman and was a member of the 2008 Pinecrest boys' state 4-A championship team. This past season he finished tied for sixth place individually at the 4-A state championship.
"This is a very prestigious tournament with a great history," Packard said, "and many great past champions. I am honored to have the opportunity to represent this area and have hopefully showcased the level of young talent that is here."
This year marks Packard's third time competing in the Junior North and South. Last year he came in 13th place in the event.
He came into this year's championship off a good finish in the North Carolina Amateur and North Carolina Junior over the past few weeks.
"Coming into this week I worked really hard on my short game because I know of the difficulty around the Pinehurst greens," he said. "I have had a lot of support from the pros at National Golf Club, my home course.
"I first worked with Gus Ulrich, who helped me gain a passion for the game. Also Sandy Sackmann, the golf coach at Pinecrest, has been a big supporter of mine as well. I have been working with Kelly Mitchum at Pinehurst Resorts for four years and he has taken my game to a new level. Also, Mrs. Bonnie McGowan at Pine Needles helped me tremendously the week before this event."
For young Sam Kosich the 31st North and South Junior was his first time playing the event.
"This tournament is not only a big deal to me because it is a premier junior amateur event," Kosich said, "but because of all the great players playing, such as my teammates Bryan Stewart and Sam Packard. It means a lot to me to play in such a big tournament held where I live, but also a special place such as Pinehurst where I play and practice day in and day out."
Kosich turned 15 on the opening day of this year's Championship. He has lived in the Sandhills area for over four years. As a freshman he was also a member of the Patriot 2008 state championship team but played in only three events throughout the season.
Bryant Stewart is another special player and member of the Pinecrest Patriot boys' golf team who participated in this year's championship.
This year's Girl Junior North and South featured a field of 36 golfers from across the nation.
The local players in this year's championship represent three of Moore County's four major high schools
For Barmore, a sophomore at O'Neal who played this past year on the school's state runner-up boys' golf team, playing in the North and South Juniors is a dream come true.
"I was really thrilled that I got into this event," she said, "because when I was younger I would come to Pinehurst and watch people playing on the course and tell myself that one day I wanted to play "So when I qualified for the tournament I was very excited. It is a big deal for me because college coaches get to see you and it allows you to get your name out in the mix, which is great because I want to play at the collegiate level."
Barmore and her family fell so much in love with Pinehurst that they decided to actually relocate to the area from Virginia so she could play high school golf in Moore County.
The Barmores purchased a home in Pinehurst back in 2001, so their daughter could be a member at Pinehurst Country Club. They moved here last year.
"I would come down here during summers," Barmore said, "and on long weekends from school, so I could play golf. I also worked as a
standard-bearer in the Women's U.S. Open, which was so cool and amazing."
Gilder was a member of the 2007 and 2008 Union Pines girls' 3-A state champion golf teams. A rising senior she came into the event with the goal of trying to remain calm and focused while also giving it all she had.
"This was my first time playing in the North and South so I wanted to shoot low," she said. "I know there are going to be college coaches watching, and it is a great opportunity to show them my potential as a player."
Roberts, from Whispering Pines, is a rising senior at Pinecrest High School. This year was her second time competing in the North and South Junior. Her sophomore year she placed fifth in state 4-A individual competition.
She is also active in the "Tin Whistle" tournaments and competes in many Carolinas Golf Association (CGA) events.
"I am so blessed to be able to live here," she said, "and to be able to use all the wonderful facilities and courses."
Contact F.W. Manning at 639-5481 or by email at email@example.com
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