Three state qualifiers clash in the Beaufort County Cup

Published 7:31 pm Thursday, May 5, 2016

MICHAEL PRUNKA | DAILY NEWS FINDING THE GREEN: Pungo’s Landon Adams targets the green with an approach shot. He shot a 94 on the afternoon.

FINDING THE GREEN: Pungo’s Landon Adams targets the green with an approach shot. He shot a 94 on the afternoon.

It’s the high season of Beaufort County golf. Washington, Northside and Pungo are all preparing to contend for state championships over the next two weeks. Each team, fresh off conference and regional-championship wins, took a step back from it all to compete against one another in the second-annual Beaufort County Cup.

The Panthers, Raiders and Pam Pack all converged on Washington Yacht & Country Club on Wednesday afternoon. All three teams laid down fantastic scores, despite the wet course conditions. Washington shot a 334 to narrowly edge Northside (339) for the win. Pungo finished with a 363.

“I wasn’t surprised (with how close the match was),” Washington coach Jim Kozuch said. “I knew that Pungo and Northside had some really good talent. I looked up their score at regionals. … I felt like it was going to be a close match.”

The afternoon provided a fun, low-pressure buffer between the regional and state-championship matches.

“It was definitely a confidence booster for my guys, especially Riley (Vanstaalduinen) and Tucker (Mooring),” Northside coach Jared Adams said. Vanstaalduinen led the Panthers with a 78 and Mooring was right behind him with a 79.

“They have the skillset to shoot scratch golf, but they’ve been catching bad breaks the last few rounds. It was good to have a round below 80. It gives them confidence going into states.”

It wasn’t just Northside’s top-two golfers getting on a roll. Evan Cornelius usually scores in the high 90s. He finished Wednesday with a 91 after shooting an impressive 40 on the back nine.

WATCHING ON: Eric Lovenberg (left) and Tucker Mooring watch on as Landon Adams takes a shot. The three were among their team’s top golfers. Lovenberg shot a 77, which was the best among all golfers.

For Washington, the friendly match offered Eric Lovenberg an opportunity to bounce back from a less-than-stellar showing in the regional championship. He did just that by shooting a 77, which was 10 strokes better than his last outing.

“It’s golf. Some days you have good days and some days you have bad days,” Kozuch said. “He’s been Mr. Consistency all year. He just had a bad day and he came right back and showed everybody why he’s the No. 1 golfer around here.”

Samuel Patti led the way for Pungo with an 87. The Raiders, like their opponents, used the match as an opportunity to fine-tune some things ahead of their foray into the state championship.

“I think it’s pretty neat to have all these teams together,” Pungo coach Chad Warren said. “It’s friendly. They all play together throughout the year. A lot of them are good golfing buddies. … We’re just trying to fine-tune everything. We’re getting ready for states. We had a lot of low scores and everybody is just ready to go to Pinehurst.

Not only did each team have a strong showing to build confidence for the coming weeks, but each also did so despite tough conditions.

“It shows a lot for everybody out there. We easily could have cancelled the match, but you’ve got to go on with it,” Kozuch said. “That’s what the conditions could be like (at the state championship). For everybody to put down those scores, it shows that everybody has been ready. Hopefully we’ll continue that and carry it on to the championship.”