N.C.’s Taylor wins CPGA Junior Championship title

Individual boys winner Blake Taylor of Atkinson, N.C., tees off on the sixth hole Sunday.
Individual boys winner Blake Taylor of Atkinson, N.C., tees off on the sixth hole Sunday. For The Sun News

Nicholas Lyerly of Salisbury, N.C., made a back-nine charge Sunday befitting of a champion.

But Blake Taylor of Atkinson, N.C., had an answer for every birdie in the Carolinas PGA Junior Championship at the 6,594-yard General Hackler Course at Coastal Carolina.

Both players shot 4-under-par 32s over the final nine holes Sunday, but Lyerly needed a fifth back-nine birdie on the 18th hole and his 20-foot putt caught the right edge of the hole but didn’t fall, allowing Taylor to win with an 8-under 136.

“I knew it was between us two and I was trying to do everything I could to catch up to him,” Lyerly said. “I’d make a birdie and he’d make a birdie. I shot 32 on the back and didn’t gain a stroke on him.”

Taylor shot his second consecutive 68 in the final round while Lyerly shot a 69. Patrick Golden of Murrells Inlet closed with a 70 to tie for third at 5-under 139.

Victoria Huskey of Greenville won the girls title by a shot over Kasidy Beckel of Okatie with an even-par 70-74–144, surviving a quadruple bogey on the final hole that nearly erased her five-shot lead.

Both Taylor and Huskey earned berths in the Junior PGA Championship run by the PGA of America from Aug. 3-6 at Miramont Country Club in Bryan, Texas.

“I’m definitely looking forward to it. Any time I can play in a national field it definitely helps me get ready for not only stronger tournaments but college,” said Taylor, who hasn’t committed and has received interest from schools including East Carolina, Coastal Carolina, UNC Wilmington and Kennesaw State and is interested in N.C. State.

Huskey, 17, a rising senior at Travelers Rest High who won the Class AAA girls state title in October at Black Bear Golf Club, is making a return trip to the national junior, where she missed the cut last year.

She built a big lead Sunday with birdies on holes 13 and 15 and an eagle on the 425-yard par-5 16th hole with a hybrid to 6 feet to reach 4 under for the tournament. But the College of Charleston commitment dropped to even par with the quadruple-bogey 8 on the 18th hole.

Her approach shot from the rough plugged in the bank of a water hazard fronting the green so she had to drop behind the water in the fairway. She hit her fourth shot in the water, hit her sixth shot to 5 feet and missed the putt for an 8. “That was a fun hole,” said Huskey, who had an anxious moment when she at first wasn’t sure if she won or tied for the lead after the quadruple.

It was all birdies and pars on the back nine for Lyerly and Taylor.

Lyerly, 16, a rising junior at East Rowan High, is the reigning champion of the 40-school, 100-player Palmetto High School Golf Championship held in April at The Pearl and Ocean Ridge Plantation and also won the 2015 N.C. Class 3-A state high school individual title.

Taylor, 17, a rising senior at Wilmington Christian Academy, won the 2014 Coastal Plains Junior in Greenville and advanced through local qualifying for the U.S. Open this year. “This is probably one of the biggest I’ve won,” Taylor said.

Lyerly fell a stroke behind on the front nine with a pair of early bogeys and birdie on the eighth to shoot a 1-over 37. Taylor, meanwhile, played the front nine even par and made nine consecutive pars before four birdies in five holes on holes 12, 13, 14 and 16. He made putts of 15, 20 and 25 feet on successive holes, then nearly chipped in for eagle on the 16th. Lyerly birdied holes 12, 13, 16 and 17.

“[Lyerly] rolled that putt in on 17 to put him one back with one to go to set up an intense last hole,” Taylor said. “My goal on 18 was to just get it in the middle of the green, and I’ve been putting pretty good especially on the back, I figured I’d give it a run and if it goes in that’s great and if it missed – and it just missed – then make him make a decent-length putt to tie.”

Lyerly’s putt on 18 caught the lower edge of the cup but didn’t drop. “I knew what I had to do and gave a good run at it, it just burned the edge,” Lyerly said. “It just broke out. Until it was about a foot from the hole I knew it had a chance.”

Golden, who tied for second in last year’s CPGA Junior, was coming off a ninth-place finish Friday with a 1-over 71-72–143 in the Grant Bennett Florence Junior Invitational at Florence Country Club.

“I was hitting it good at the Grant Bennett so I knew I’d be hitting it good here. I guess momentum can carry over, and it definitely did,” Golden said. “This year so far I’ve been in contention. I’m due for a win sometime.”

Drew Weary, 14, of Bluffton shot a 68 Sunday morning while playing in the age 13-14 division to post a 5-under 139 and it held up until the final two threesomes of the boys 16-18 division in the afternoon.

Weary was coming off a win in the 13-14 age division Friday in Florence after a pair of 74s, and on Sunday he had five birdies and a bogey. He drained birdie putts of 20, 25, 15 and 8 feet and several testy par putts, and chipped in for birdie on the par-4 ninth hole.

“My mindset was still in tournament mode, so I still had that competitive outlook going into this weekend,” he said.

Smith Knaffle of Murrells Inlet tied Sarah Funderburg of Wilmington, N.C., for the girls 13-15 division title at 7-over 151 and tied for fifth overall.

Contact ALAN BLONDIN at 626-0284 or on Twitter @alanblondin, or read his blog Green Reading at

Boys overall

1, Blake Taylor, Atkinson, N.C. 68-68–136; 2, Nicholas Lyerly, Salisbury, N.C. 68-69–137; T3, Patrick Golden, Murrells Inlet, 69-70–139; Drew Weary, Bluffton 71-68–139; 5, Michael McKee, Ware Shoals, N.C. 70-70–140; 6, Matthew Moninghoff, Blythewood 75-66–141; 7, Stephen Carroll, Concord, NC 71-71–142; T8, A.J. Beechler, Pinehurst, NC 73-71–144; Travis Mancill, Hilton Head Island 74-70–144. Also: T10, Vijay Mishra, North Myrtle Beach, 73-72–145; T15, Jackson Cole, Pawleys Island 74-72–146; Daniel Graves, Longs 72-74–146; T21, Holden Grigg, Myrtle Beach 71-77–148; T26, Matthew Griego, Loris 73-76–149; Will Canipe, Murrells Inlet 74-75–149.

Girls overall

1, Victoria Huskey, Greenville 70-74–144; 2, Kasidy Beckel, Okatie 70-75–145; 3, Sarina Sonoda, Florence 74-73–147; 4, Kathleen Sumner, Charleston 74-74–148; T5, Smith Knaffle, Murrells Inlet 76-75–151; Sarah Funderburg, Wilmington, NC 72-79–151; 7, Ashley Czarnecki, Greenville 73-79–152; 8, Jensen Castle, West Columbia 78-75–153; 9, Morgan Cox, Easley 76-78–154; 10, Jodee Tindal, Rock Hill 79-76–155. Also: 17, Kelli Smith, Murrells Inlet 82-80–162; 19, Hannah Fesperman, Georgetown 83-84–167;

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