Graf battles into round of 16 at prestigious PNGA Men’s Amateur Championship

Carter Graf was learning on the fly at the Pacific Northwest Golf Association Men’s Amateur Championship this week.

The 17-year-old Sylvan Lake golfer still managed to advance to the round of 16 in the 117th running of the prestigious event in DuPont, Wash.

He was playing in the first match play tournament of his golf career this week, after making the round of 64 through a two-round stroke play qualifier on Monday and Tuesday.

In his opening round match on Wednesday, Graf defeated Riley Killip of Olympia, Wash., on the first playoff hole of the match. Graf drained a 30-foot birdie putt to clinch the win.

Thursday in the round of 32, Graf downed American Derek Bayley two-and-one. Graf said he was six-under on the round before he was finally able to finish off his opponent.

Graf battled Reid Hatley in the quarterfinals but lost three-and-one. Overall he said the experience in DuPont was a memorable one and he was happy with how he played.

“Once the match play rolled around I started putting better and hitting the ball pretty good,” he said.

“That was my very first time playing match play. I watched quite a bit of it on TV. Know how it works. It was a lot of fun. definitely a different type of golf.”

The 17-year-old has been carrying a pretty consistent smile through the golf season this summer, after making a big decision earlier this year.

Graf settled on North Carolina State to continue his golf career, giving a verbal commitment to play NCAA Division I Golf for the Wolfpack in 2019.

He said they first watched him play at junior nationals last summer and then through a few conversations and a visit to the campus, it was an easy decision to attend NC State.

“Super pumped about it. They have a really good golf team. I really like the coach. It’s awesome. Excited to go down there and start playing golf at the college level against some of the best in the country,” Graf said.

The young golfer added he’s satisfied with where his game is at now but knows he’ll need to keep improving before next September of 2019 when he makes the trip to North Carolina.

“Just keep the consistency of good play up and working on my game,” he said.

“I’m pretty happy with where it’s at right now. Keep on working on my swing. I’ll have really good coaches and guys to play with there, so it will help my game even more.”

Next up for Graf is a trip to Montana for a three-day tournament as a tune-up for the Canadian Junior Boys Championships that will be held in Medicine Hat from July 31- Aug. 3.

After that he will travel to Duncan, B.C., to play in the Canadian Men’s Amateur Championships, from Aug. 6-9.

Email sports tips to Byron Hackett

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