Wilson Day has had a tremendous year by any measuring stick. Top-10s in some of the biggest junior tournaments around, along with a tie for eighth in the Carolinas Amateur highlight his 2010 accomplishments.
But he didn’t have a victory until September when he won the Joe Cheves Junior Invitational with an amazing comeback that was capped in a sudden death playoff.
The Joe Cheves Junior at Mimosa Hills Country Club in Morganton attracts a strong field from a multi-state area and when Day found himself down by six shots at the halfway point despite shooting a 71, his chances didn’t look good.
Day, a senior at Ravenscroft High School in Raleigh, made it up with a blistering 32 on Mimosa’s tight tree-lined back nine. He birdied holes 10, 12 and 13, and really got into the mix with an eagle at the par-5 14th. Even a double bogey at No. 15 didn’t dampen his spirit, as he parred 16, and quickly followed that with a deuce at Mimosa’s treacherous little par-3 17th hole.
A par at the 18th completed a 69. Then he had to wait for the rest of the field to finish.
Blake Kennedy of Moore, S.C., came to the 18th hole in the lead at 6-under for the tournament. A disastrous triple bogey on the 435-yard par-4 took the Clemson commitment out of contention, knowing a par would have sealed him a victory, or a bogey would have at least earned a playoff opportunity.
Day joined Taylor Zoller of North Charleston, S.C. (72-67) and Caleb Sturgeon, Laurens, S.C. (70-69) at the top of the leaderboard at the end of regulation play. The top 16 players, all in red figures, were separated by just four shots.
The playoff lasted just one hole. Day made a routine fairway-to-green par, while Zoller and Sturgeon found bunker difficulty at Mimosa’s 18th hole.
Earlier in the year, Day tied for sixth in the Carolinas Junior, tied for ninth in the Scott Robertson Memorial and warmed up for the Joe Cheves with a pair of top-10s in August AJGA events in North Carolina.
The year’s work has resulted in Day being No. 2 in the state’s junior boys rankings. He’s already committed to playing collegiately at N.C. State.
Three other Triangle players – all high school seniors – were in the hunt at the Joe Cheves before settling for a tie for 13th, but just four shots off the pace. Cyrus Stewart of Raleigh shot 72-71, Todd Eckstein of Durham shot 71-72 and Grant Houser of Holly Springs posted 70-73.
Benjamin Griffin, a freshman, also made a strong showing. He shot 72-73 and tied for 19th.
In the girls division, Taelor Rubin of Raleigh tied for fourth with a pair of 71s and Sarah Bae of Cary was sixth with 71-72. Also placing in the top 20 were Evelyn Dole of Cary (80-78) and Emily Brooks of Chapel Hill (80-78).
Kendall Martindale of Jefferson City, Tenn., ran away to the title with a record-setting 135 (68-67). Martindale, who will play collegiate golf at Vanderbilt, shattered the tournament record by six shots.
Middle School Championship
BADIN • Sept. 24-25 – Ravenscroft Middle School of Raleigh captured the ninth N.C. Middle School Championship at Badin Golf Club.
Ravenscroft shot 142-146 and ended two shots ahead of Norwayne Middle of Freemont. West Pine Middle of Pinehurst was fourth with 151-143. There were 22 schools in the competition.
Harrison Rhoades led the winners with 72-71. He tied for second individually, nine shots off the sizzling pace of Joshua Martin of West Pine Middle School. Martin shot 69-65.
Ryan Gerard of Raleigh and Eric Bae of Cary tied for sixth, each shooting 70-75.
In the girls division, Catherine Ashworth of Apex was second with 76-85 and Nicolette Donovan of Cary tied for third with 79-84.