Pinecrest graduate and East Carolina junior golfer A.J. Beechler carded a two-day total of 11-under-par 205 to win the Golf Coaches Association of America (GCAA) Amateur Series event at Pinehurst No. 6 over the weekend. Beechler fired a 7-under-par 65 on Sunday to earn a three-stroke victory.
"I grew up playing at No. 6 and I've had good luck on the course in the past," Beechler said. "It was the most calm and nervous I've been in a tournament. Once I got to 8-under-par through 15 holes in the third round I was nervous, but I knew how to play the course so that helped me calm down."
Beechler was five strokes off the lead at the completion of round one Saturday, but responded with a 4-under-par 68 during his second round of 18 that afternoon, moving within one stroke of the lead heading into Sunday's final round.
"My goal on the last 18 holes was to play the par-5s at 4-under, the par-3s at even and to not miss a putt inside five feet; I did just that," Beechler said. "My goal was to get to 11-under-par because I knew anyone that was near the lead could fire a low score."
Beechler made the turn Sunday at 3 under par and began play on the back nine with an eagle on the par-5 10th hole. He then birdied three of the next five holes to move to 8-under-par before paring two of the final three to finish the final round at 7-under-par.
"I didn't check the leaderboard till after I hit my final tee shot on 18 and I saw that I was leading by a few which relieved me of any pressure," he said.
The GCAA Amateur Series is a series of amateur tournaments which began in August and will be played through November. The tournaments are two-day events played across the country and are eligible to men's and women's collegiate golfers who were on a varsity roster in 2019-20 or are scheduled to be on a varsity roster this coming fall.
"We are excited to provide these additional tournament opportunities for college golfers to compete given the difficult times we faced in our sport last semester and anticipate facing again in the fall," said GCAA President and San Jose State Head Coach John Kennaday. "We recognize that fall events and budgets through the end of the year and beyond are likely to be significantly reduced or cancelled. The Amateur Series will give both men's and women's collegiate players affordable opportunities to compete in the absence of traditional college competition. "
Beechler was the individual state champion his junior and senior years at Pinecrest, and helped the Patriots to team state titles his first three seasons with the program.