As his classmates began to return to UNC Greensboro earlier this week to prepare for the 2018-19 academic year, sophomore men's golfer Nick Lyerly was more than 2,700 miles away.
Lyerly was one of 312 competitors at the 118th U.S. Amateur at Pebble Beach Golf Links and Spyglass Hills Golf Course in California. The U.S. Amateur, which is the USGA’s oldest competition, hosts some of the top collegiate golfers in the country and participants from the Canadian Amateur, Mexican Amateur and British Amateur among other areas.
Lyerly qualified for the prestigious event after posting a 137 during a two-day qualifying tournament that took place in June at Oak Valley Golf Club in Advance, N.C.
Nearly two months after qualifying, Lyerly this week was playing the same courses that the sport’s all-time greats have battled as well.
After going through practice rounds last weekend, Lyerly played at Pebble Beach on Monday afternoon, posting an even 71. He birdie holes three and four on the front-nine before rebounding from three pars in the middle of his round to end the day at even with a birdie at 18.
At one point, the Salisbury, N.C., native was even in the lead before finishing the day tied for 27th, which would have put him well in range for match-play, which pits the top 64 golfers in a bracket-style competition.
.@UNCGMGolf's Nick Lyerly is set to tee off at approximately 11:33 a.m. in the second round of the @USGA United States Amateur.— UNCG Athletics (@uncgsports) August 14, 2018
Follow his progress here: https://t.co/rX2jf0MYob
Good luck today, Nick! #letsgoG pic.twitter.com/czy84HMe2D
While Lyerly was unable to make the cut after posting an 81 on Tuesday at Spyglass Hills, the overall experience is something he “will never forget.”
“Pebble Beach and Spyglass are two of the most beautiful courses I have ever played, as well as two of the hardest,” Lyerly said. “It was an honor to be competing alongside the best amateurs in the world, and even without my best game, I was right in the middle of things until the very end of the second round. I know that if I keep up the hard work I will be competing in many more USGA events in the future. There are lots of positive things I can learn from this experience which will only make me a better player.”
Lyerly also received encouragement throughout the trip from UNCG men’s golf coach Terrance Stewart, who served as his caddy and was also able to see UNCG alum Jake McGlone participate as well.
“Nick played very well and even took the lead for a few holes early in the U.S. Amateur,” Stewart said. “He played with poise and handled himself like a professional on the best course in the world. It was an honor to caddy for him and I’ll never forget the amazing experience we had together. It was great to have our alum Jake McGlone in the field as well”.
As for Lyerly, he’s ready to return to Greensboro and compete alongside his teammates this season to defend their SoCon Championship.
⛳️ The Spartans are headed home after an amazing trip to Monterey Bay, CA. @licknyerly and alum Jake McGlone represented UNCG with amazing class and play @USGA United States Amateur. Great job guys! #letsgoG 🏌🏻🏆⛳️⚙️🇺🇸 pic.twitter.com/ttlN2YafQd— UNCG Men's Golf (@UNCGMGolf) August 14, 2018
“Now that my summer is over, I’m super excited to get started with the college season!” Lyerly said.