Rising senior Tim Bunten, of East Carolina University’s men’s golf team, earned first place at the fifth Carolinian Amateur golf tournament on June 14.
The Carolinian Amatuer is 54 holes of stroke play with a cut taking place after 36 holes of play. Any male golfer who is 16 by the first round of play, is a member of a club which is a member of the Carolinas Golf Association (CGA) and has a current USGA Handicap Index® at a member club that does not exceed 10.4 is eligible to enter for competition.
Throughout the first two rounds of the tournament, Bunten was neck and neck with the rest of the field and shot a score of 72 in the first round followed by a 68 in the second round.
Bunten entered the final round in a three-way tie for first on the leaderboard, but was able to pull ahead with his strong putting performance. Bunten’s strong outing behind his putter featured an eagle and nine birdies. One of those birdies came on the final hole to secure him the victory.
ECU’s men’s golf head coach Andrew Sapp said he was extremely proud of how Bunten performed at the Carolinian Amatuer and said that this win was very big for Bunten.
“Tim played phenomenal. He just kinda blitzed everyone in the field and pulled out the victory. Tim dislocated his shoulder back at the tournament in Puerto Rico, so for him to go out and win here is very good for him. It takes a lot of guts coming down the stretch and he showed he has what it takes,” Sapp said.
Bunten finished the final round with a score of 67. This put his final score for the tournament at 207, 9 under par.
Bunten’s ECU teammate, senior Patrick Stephenson, finished the tournament in second place at -3 under par. Through the first round of play, Stephenson shot 70, a score of 71 in round two and 73 in round three for a total score of 213. Stephenson was the lone second place finisher in the tournament as there was a five man tie for third place at 2-under-par and a total score of 214 for the tournament.
After Bunten secured the win, Coach Sapp mentioned how inspiring it was for him and all of his teammates at ECU.
“Success is contagious, after Tim won, one of his teammates came up and told me that seeing Tim win gave him motivation and made him believe that he could next time.This tournament is a great start before the season,” Sapp said.
Coach Sapp mentioned how despite losing some of the spring season due to the cancelation caused by COVID-19, the team has still been able to play and practice at home and will be ready for the fall.
Sapp said nothing is better than real competition against real opponents and that’s what the Carolinian Amateur really offered his Pirate golfers.
“We did not lose the ability to play golf. Golf can be played at home courses (and) technique can still be worked on. One thing we missed was competition against talented teams, but we should be ready for the fall season,” Sapp said
Bunten’s win and Stephenson’s runner-up finish come after the Pirates’ 2019-2020 golf season saw it’s second half cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Pirates missed out on the one tournament of the season where the team would have played host in the ECU Intercollegiate at Brook Valley on March 16 and 17.
The remaining regular season events for the Pirates would have been played in-state, the first of which at the Irish Creek Intercollegiate hosted by the University of North Carolina (UNC) at Charlotte in Kannapolis, North Carolina on April 4 and 5.
The final regular season event scheduled was the Stitch Intercollegiate hosted by North Carolina State University in Cary, North Carolina.
The American Athletic Conference Championships were set to be played April 26-28 in Palm Harbor, Florida followed by the NCAA Regional on May 18 through 20 with a destination that had yet to be determined.
The NCAA Championships would have been held May 29 through June 3 in Scottsdale, Arizona.