Every golfer dreams of playing Pebble Beach. It’s a perfectly uniform 18-hole track, laid out on the Monterey Peninsula in the California coastline. While most only get to take in that beauty through a television, UNCG Golfer Nick Lyerly earned the right to compete on some of golf’s most hallowed ground at the 2018 U.S. Amateur Championship.
The journey to Pebble began here in North Carolina. Lyerly faced the tough task of qualifying through a local venue at Oak Valley Golf Club in Advance, N.C. After 36 holes the top five moved on to compete in the U.S. Amateur. Lyerly made the cut after firing a second round 64, which tied him for third overall and punched his ticket to the main event.
After his arrival, the history and magic of Pebble Beach wasn’t lost on Lyerly.
“It was amazing; obviously I’ve seen it on tv and pictures plenty of times and it looks beautiful, but just being able to actually be out there, it was truly remarkable. Watching on tv doesn’t do it justice. It’s so much better in person,” said Lyerly.
Although taking on a golf course that has played host to five U.S. Open’s must be a bit intimidating, it doesn’t hurt that the hospitality is second to none. “The USGA pretty much runs everything and they take great care of all their players. I played in the U.S. Junior one time, and it was the same way. Food, hospitality, they have anything you would ever need. The USGA does a great job with that,” said Lyerly.
To go along with the hospitality, having a familiar face alongside him helped Lyerly feel more at ease. UNCG Head Men’s Golf Coach Terrance Stewart served as Lyerly’s caddy during the tournament. Stewart was on the bag for both rounds, and it meant a lot to his player to have his coach sharing in the experience.
“It was great, I know he enjoyed it, too. I think it was his first time being on Pebble, so it was cool for him and he did a great job on the bag. It took a lot off of my shoulders” said Lyerly.
In the first round, Lyerly actually held the lead for a brief moment on his way to an even-par 71. At the end of the day, he found himself in a tie for 27th place.
For his second round, Lyerly got to play another world-famous golf course in Spyglass Hills. Unfortunately, he was not able to keep pace with the rest of the field as he carded an 81 in his second round, which left him on the wrong side of the cut and missing out on the match-play portion of the tournament.
Now, Lyerly is back in Greensboro and setting his sights on what looks to be a promising sophomore campaign. He is confident in the rest of his teammates as well.
“We had three wins over the summer with myself, Jonathan Brightwell, and Bryce Hendrix and we just picked up a transfer from Charlotte, Zack Swanson. We also have a few other guys who could crack the starting lineup and help us out. Last year we won the conference championship and we want to do that again.
“We got to Regionals last year and didn’t quite make it to the National Championship; obviously we want to make it there and do better than last year. As a team, we are capable of winning multiple tournaments this year and I want to see that happen. I think we have the team for it,” said Lyerly.
It should be a very exciting year for Lyerly and the Spartans on the golf course. The first tournament of the season will get underway on Sept. 8th in Durham at the Rod Myers Invitational. It will be interesting to see how the experience of competing on a stage like Pebble Beach can pay dividends for Lyerly closer to home.