Silhouettes flocked the practice facilities the moment they opened at 7:15 a.m., the sun yet to pierce through the nighttime sky with the clocks turned for the first morning of daylight savings time.
Entering the final round of play, four players were atop the Bell National leaderboard sat in the red with under-par first round performances. Three strokes separated the trio tied for fifth place from Sydney Yermish (Pinehurst, NC 2023), the leader following the first round.
The Prep Preview division saw the greatest margin of separation, with three strokes between first-round leader Lexi Schulman (Vernon Hills, IL 2023) and the rest of the field. In the Futures National Division, one stroke sat between each player from Sophie Lauture (Raleigh, NC 2024) with the lead through the Top Five.
Clocks rapidly ticked towards the 8:30 a.m. first tee times and light began to shine, albeit masked by a hazy fog amidst the cloud covered skies. Slated to be significantly warmer than Saturday, players hoped Sunday’s final round would allow them to shed the added burden of extra layers with temperatures climbed upwards of 70 degrees.
Though it was warmer than the previous round, temperatures never reached the “toasty” level and a stiff breeze set in towards the latter half of the round. Play heated up down the stretch, no one willing to back down to the challenge.
The tournament in Chapel Hill has a deep history of incredibly close and competitive finishes. This year was no exception. All three divisions came down to nail-biting finishes including two tiebreaker playoffs, writing yet another unforgettable chapter in the book that is the Tar Heel Classic.
At the conclusion of the day, here is how the final round played out.
36 holes of golf were simply not enough to determine the champion of the 41 player Bell National field at the 2019 Tar Heel Classic. Sydney Yermish entered the round with a one-stroke lead over Caroline Curtis (Richmond, VA 2019). At the turn, Curtis had jumped Yermish on the leaderboard with a two-under front nine that left her at four-under for the tournament, while Yermish had dropped down to even-par on the tournament.
The back nine played tough for all both, though Yermish capitalized on a few of Curtis’s hiccups including a birdie on the 16th hole when Curtis bogeyed. After each player made par putts on the 18th green, their scores were locked dead even, tied for first at one-over on for the tournament. With that, they headed on to a playoff to determine the winner.
After each player made par on the first playoff hole, Yermish beat Curtis by one-stroke on the second playoff hole, taking home the 2019 Tar Heel Classic championship in the Bell National division. She finished the weekend with a total score of 69, 76 = 145 (+1). Curtis finished runner up, closing out the tournament with a two-day final of 70, 75 = 145 (+1).
Riley Hamilton (Reidsville, NC 2020) finished in third place after shooting the Round 2 low score of 72. She started her round in the best way possible, with back-to-back birdies on her first two holes. Remaining consistent throughout the remainder of the round, aside from a bogey on the ninth and 10th holes, Hamilton kept a clean scorecard. She finished with a two-day total score of 74, 72 = 146 (+2).
Rounding out the Top Five in the Bell National field in a three-way tie for fourth place was Emma Chen (Derwood, MD 2022), Lauren Freyvogel (Gibsonia, PA 2019) and Muskan Uppal (Cornelius, NC 2019) with total scores of 148 (+4).
Chen finished the weekend with scores of 72 and 76, with a birdie on the 16th hole giving her a share of the tie for fourth. Freyvogel followed up a first round 70 with a final round score of 78. Despite a few struggles, she was able to make a birdie on the 14th hole. Uppal finished the weekend with scores of 71 and 77. She took advantage early on with a birdie on the second hole to be in a position for medal honors.
The 24 player Prep Preview field was another close race to the finish. Though she relinquished her lead at one point in the round, Lexi Schulman came back to form and brought home the glass bowl championship trophy. Schulman balanced out her round after a few hiccups on her front nine and finished with a two-day total score of 71, 78 = 149 (+5). She looks to ride the excitement of her first win on the PKBGT all the way home to Illinois!
Finishing runner-up with a two-day total score of 74, 77 = 151 (+7) was Macy Pate (Boone, NC 2024). Pate had an incredible stretch with back-to-back-to-back birdies in the midst of overtaking Schulman atop the leaderboard on her front nine. Despite a valiant effort, she wasn’t able to hold off Schulman’s surge back into the lead but held on to a second place finish.
In a two-way tie for third place were Sydney Hackett (Ashburn, VA 2022) and Megan Morris (Cary, NC 2021) with two-day scores of 152 (+8). Hackett rose on the leaderboard following a one-under-par final round of 71, the lowest in the Prep Preview field and an improvement of 10 strokes from her first round 81. Morris finished with back-to-back scores of 76.
Topping off the Prep Preview leaderboard, in a two-way tie for fifth place, were Amber Mackiewicz and McKenzie Daffin (Fayetteville, NC 2021) with final scores of 158 (+14). Mackiewicz shot 79 on both days, with a birdie on the 10th hole as the highlight of her final round. Daffin shot scores of 80 and 78 on the weekend, improving in the final round by two-strokes.
If one round of tiebreaker playoff holes wasn’t satisfying enough, fear not, as the 23 player Futures National field did their best to one-up the Bell National playoff. Three players. That’s right, three players weren’t willing to lay down and finished tied for first place at the end of regulation play.
Elizabeth Tucci (New Market, MD 2022), Josephine Nguyen (Springfield, VA 2024) and Mary Sears Brown (Wake Forest, NC 2021) all finished the tournament with 36-hole scores of 154 (+10).
After all three players tied the first playoff hole, Tucci separated herself from the pack. She won the second playoff hole and with that, the 2019 Tar Heel Classic championship in the Futures National Division. Tucci fought her way back to the top of the leaderboard with a final-round score of 73, the top score of the day in her division. Two clutch birdies on the back nine aided her into position for the tiebreaker playoff.
Sears Brown had the second-best score of the day in the division, finishing with a 74 to go with her first-round 80, earning the runner-up trophy in doing so. She capitalized on the back nine with three birdies of her own. Nguyen finished with scores of 77 each day, earning a third-place finish after the tiebreaker holes.
Maya Beasley (Croton on Hudson, 2023) finished the tournament in fourth place with a two-day score of 79, 76 = 155 (+4). Beasley made two birdies on the afternoon, but the highlight of her final round was an eagle on the par five third hole.
Closing the top finishers of the 2019 Tar Heel Classic was Sophie Lauture (Raleigh, NC 2024) who found herself in the Top Five yet again with a fifth-place finish. Lauture finished with a tournament total score of 76, 80 = 156 (+12).
We would like to extend our greatest thanks to the entire staff at UNC Finley GC for their hospitality as the host course for the weekend. The Tar Heel classic is rich with a history of highly competitive fields and finishes. This year was nothing short of spectacular and stacks up against the best of them. Congratulations to all of our top finishers at the 2019 Tar Heel Classic. The PKBGT is back at it next weekend, traveling to Greenwood, SC for the inaugural PKBGT Spring Invitational!
About the PKBGT
Founded in 2007 by the Triad Youth Golf Foundation, a non-profit 501(c)(3) charitable organization, as a local girls’ golf tour in the Triad region of North Carolina, the tour began as a simple concept: create more effective competitive playing opportunities for girls. By utilizing innovative yardage-based divisions instead of the traditional age-based format, the tour focused on developing tournament experience at the player’s pace. The 2019 season will feature over 90 tournaments in 9 states on the East Coast and with over 900 members, the PKBGT is the largest girl’s only tour in the country. Learn more about the PKBGT at http://www.pkbgt.org/.