NORTH MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. — Cade Hancock of Elizabethtown, N.C., battled in the final junior golf tournament of the year for a second-place finish in the 26th annual Charles Tilgman Invitational, played at The Surf Club of North Myrtle Beach.
This tournament is highly sought after for junior golfers for several reasons,” said Cade’s father James. “First, the venue is one of Myrtle Beach’s hidden treasures, A great old course with no gimmicks. Beautiful tree-lined fairways with everything right out in front of the golfer.
“Second, this is a PGA-sanctioned event with a field of the best junior golfers, mainly from the East Coast,” he added. “Third, it is an opportunity for these young hopefuls to showcase their talents in front of several college coaches.”
Hancock, 14, was playing in the 13- and 14-year-old Division, opened the tournament with an even-par 36 on the front nine — but fell to two-under on the back nine with a 37 and a first-day total of 73 and a two-shot lead on the field.
On the second day, Hancock was part of the last group that included Manning Sloop of Rock Hill and Ross Funderburke of Roanoke, Va. — both 14 years old. Sloop had carded a 76 on the first day and Funderburke a 75.
Hancock started strong, getting a birdie on the first hole — but a double-bogey on the second hole dropped him back. Two more bogeys and a birdie put Hancock at two-over par 38 after the front nine, while Funderburke shot a 35 and Sloop a 36.
“Things were starting to look pretty grim for a chance at the title,” James Hancock said. “Not only did it appear that he was not going to have a chance to win, but he could miss out on a top-five finish, taking away an automatic exemption for next year’s tournament.”
Hancock’s first few holes produced a par-bogey-par-par-birdie and found himself down by three shots with four holes to play. He parred No. 15 and, on the toughest-rated hole on the course, No. 16, he carded another par while Funderburke bogeyed and Sloop double-bogeyed — putting Hancock down just two strokes for the lead.
On No. 17, Hancock birdied the par 4 while Funderburke bogeyed again and Sloop double-bogeyed. Hancock was one stroke back with No. 18 to play.
But the final hole was Hancock’s undoing. After a good tee shot, his second play went awry and caused a two-putt bogey. Meanwhile, Funderburke pulled off a chip-in for birdie to seal the win and Sloop carded a par to tie Hancock for second place.
“On the positive side, he discovered a lot about himself,” James said. “He kept on fighting to the end and didn’t give up. He came back strong, giving himself a chance to win capping off a great season.”
W. Curt Vincent can be reached by calling 910-862-4163.