Fike’s Boyette to make first NCHSAA 3-A championship appearance
Fike's Ethan Boyette transports his bag off of the 18th green at Willow Springs Country Club after completing his round in Monday's NCHSAA 3-A East boys golf regional. Boyette finished in a tie for third to secure an individual entry into Monday's state championship in Southern Pines. Jimmy Lewis | Times
Special to the Times
Talented Fike freshman Ethan Boyette executed Step 2 in becoming a high school boys golf standout in Monday’s North Carolina High School Athletic Association 3-A East Regional at Willow Springs Country Club.
Aided by a birdie on his final layout — the par-3, No. 18 — Boyette, the Big East Conference Player of the Year, landed a spot in next Monday’s 3-A championship at Longleaf Golf Club in Southern Pines.
Boyette fired a 1-over-par 72 to deadlock for third place in the 46-player field and earn one of the four state berths allocated to entrants not members of the top two teams.
On No. 18, the Fike freshman laced a 9-iron shot within four feet of the flag and calmly rolled in the putt. His fourth birdie of the round enabled Boyette to avoid a playoff for the final state berth and left him a mere shot off the top spot.
D.H. Conley’s Gray Mitchum and Jacksonville’s Tyler Jones shared the low round at 1-under 71 and were proclaimed co-medalists (individual champions).
With rounds of 72, Boyette, South Brunswick’s Parker Bumgarner and Clayton’s Foster Evans tied for third and were individual state qualifiers along with Jones,
Mitchum is also state bound as Conley, in a showdown of Eastern Carolina Conference archrivals, edged Greenville Rose for the team title. Conley posted a 310, followed by Rose at 312.
Then came Wilmington New Hanover (320), Clayton (321) and West Carteret (334). Big East Conference champion Southern Nash experienced a miserable day and finished last.
Southern Nash’s team consisted of Carson Winstead, Levy Brantley, Andrew Thompson, Daniel Collie and Jacob Kearney. Hunt qualified Sanjeev Francis and William Stinagle. Each shot 93.
Boyette emerged the bright spot from The Wilson Times readership area, notching a field-leading four birdies. His birdies came at Nos. 1, 3, 14 and 18. He was especially proud of, from a testy lie, bumping a shot into the hole from 44 yards out for a birdie on the par-4, No. 14 layout.
It was bumpy,” Boyette described his regional debut. “My mindset was trying to put it close and make what putts I could. I tried to play the ball with less break than I thought I saw. It worked some of the time (including No. 18).”
Boyette narrowly missed a lengthy birdie putt on No. 17.
“When I missed that one, I thought I was out of it,” he noted. I felt a little bit of relief (with the birdie on No. 18), but I was a little bit anxious. It definitely felt good putting it close.”
After player-of-the-year and state-qualifying success, Boyette bids to build his legacy in following his older brother Bryson, now starring at Barton College. Bryson Boyette seized a 3-A championship and was thrice tabbed league player of the year during his Fike career. At Barton, he has earned all-conference three times and has been saluted as Conference Carolinas Player of the Year and Freshman of the Year.
Now, Ethan Boyette aims for the maximum four state appearances.
“But I have no control over that,” he cautioned. “I can only control what I put into it. I hope that’s enough to get there (four times) and maybe win it a couple of times.”
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