ASHEVILLE – Carson Ownbey and Matt Sharpstene have a fondness for one another, on and off the golf course.
Nothing tightens the bond between a couple friends and Division I college recruits like partaking in one of their greatest accomplishments together.
Ownbey (a rising junior at Christ School) and Sharpstene (a rising senior at Roberson) will be part of the field for the U.S. Junior Amateur tournament which is July 18-23 in Ooltewah, Tenn. Each golfer placed in the top-five of a qualifying tournament this week to advance.
“We’re both excited about this. I think this is going to be one of the most fun weeks of my life,” Sharpstene said.
“I’ve tried to qualify three times before and I always came up one or two strokes short. It means a lot to finally get in.”
Sharpstene scrambled on his final nine holes Wednesday at Asheboro’s Pinewood Country Club and three late birdies did the trick. The West Virginia recruit and reigning Citizen-Times All-WNC Player of the Year finished in a tie for third place with a 36-hole score of 143 (1-under).
Ownbey qualified two days earlier in a different state.
He shot 140 (4-under) to come in third place at a tournament held Sunday and Monday in Murfreesboro, Tenn. The Greenies golfer posted back-to-back rounds of 70 at Old Fort Golf Club.
Ownbey, whose hometown is Candler, was committed to play college golf for Charlotte.
“I hit a lot of fairways in my first round and got the putter going towards the end,” Ownbey said.
“This is going to be the biggest tournament I’ve ever had a chance to play in. It’s going to be fun, especially with a few of my friends going down there, too.”
The U.S. Junior Amateur will be played on The Honors Course in Ooltewah, which was designed by Pete Dye. The first 36 holes are stroke play before the field of 156 is trimmed to 64 for match play.
Early in their careers, Jordan Spieth and Tiger Woods both won the U.S. Junior Amateur multiple times.