CHAPEL HILL — Cade Hancock of Elizabethtown has felt the thrill of victory as a young golfer on the Coastal Junior Golf Tour, but over the weekend he got a taste of the agony of defeat — by a single stroke.
Hancock, 14 and a freshman at Harrells Christian Academy, competed at The UNC Golf for Promise qualifier for the Optimist International World Junior Golf Championship at Finley Golf Course in Chapel Hill. If he qualified, Hancock would be headed to Florida to play the famous “Bear Trap” — also known as PGA National, The Champions Course — designed by Jack Nicklaus.
The two-day tournament opened Saturday, and Hancock started quickly. He opened with a birdie-birdie before struggling on the par 5 third hole, where he gave a shot back with a bogey — followed by a double-bogey on No. 4. But Hancock righted the ship and got his par on the next hole.
Hancock took a bogey on No. 6 before pars on Nos. 7, 8 and 9 left him at two-over 38 through the front nine.
On the back side, Hancock took a bogey-par-par start before No. 13 almost ruined him with a double-bogey. But the youngster caught fire and birdied No. 14 ahead of four straight pars to finish the first day at four-over 76 good enough for a tie for the lead in his age group.
On day two, Hancock started slowly with a bogey on the first hole and, after a par, he took bogeys on Nos. 3 and 4. He managed to rebound with two straight pars, but then lost three strokes with a double-bogey on No. 7 and a bogey on No. 8.
Then the tables turned.
Hancock earned a par on No. 9 before starting his back nine with a par at No. 10, a par on No. 11 and birdie on No. 12. He followed that with a par-par before getting a huge birdie on No. 15 to get him to four-over for the day.
A par at No. 16 was followed by a birdie on No. 17 — setting up the all-important 18th hole. Hancock found the green with his second shot on the par 4, just 10 feet from the pin, but his putt just missed and he settled for a par that put him at 75 for the round and 151 for the tournament, good for second place in his age group and ninth among all age groups.
Hancock, who was sponsored in the tournament by the Elizabethtown Optimist Club thanks to the efforts of Ray and Wanda Britt, is now the first alternate for a chance to play in Florida should the winner not be able to compete. Until then, he is competing with the Harrells Crusaders golf team.
W. Curt Vincent can be reached by calling 910-862-4163.