PORT Elizabeth’s Luke Jerling achieved what very few college golfers are able to do . . . win in their freshman year.
The tall left-hander birdied two of his last four holes at the Wolfpack Spring Open to win his first career college tournament in Raleigh, North Carolina, on Sunday.
Jerling, who plays for Lamar University in Texas, also helped his team to a second place finish in the tournament.
Jerling shot a final round four-under 68 on the par-72, 6728m Lonnie Poole Golf Course after opening with a 71 on Saturday. He finished the tournament at five-under par, one stroke better than his closest rival.
He started round two with a birdie at the par-five 529m opening hole and then carded another at the fifth. But he also suffered three bogeys to be placed at one-over through six holes.
But he hit a purple patch with four straight birdies and eventually finished with eight for his round.
“It feels unreal. Not many players win as a freshman, so I’m stoked because I didn’t feel like I would win just yet,” the former Grey High pupil said.
“But I played really well and handled the back nine great, especially since it was windy. The course was firm, kind of links style, so it was like Humewood back home.”
Jerling said he was beginning to adapt well to the rigours of college golf.
“I’m starting to get comfortable with the format. It tends to get very pressurised because four of the five team scores count. So you know if a teammate is bombing out, you have to grind it out,” the PE Golf Club member said.
Lamar will be looking for its 24th Southland Conference team title at next week’s Southland Conference Championships from Stonebridge Country Club in Dallas.
The 54-hole event will begin on April 23.