ELIZABETHTOWN — As the 2017 golf season ratchets into high gear, Cade Hancock is already picking up accolades on the links.
Hancock, 15, a sophomore at Harrells Christian Academy, was recently tabbed the Coastal Rivers Conference Player of the Year honor.
That award comes on the heels of Hancock advancing to the state’s Class 2-A North Carolina Independent Schools Athletic Association individual playoffs at the Mid-South Club in Pinehurst.
Hancock came out of the gate on the first day of the two-day battle with a one over par 72, placing him two shots off the lead. On his second day, Hancock stumbled slightly and carded a 77 — but he finished with a two-day total of 149, good for an eighth-place finish and a spot on the NCISSA All-State team.
On Saturday, Hancock traveled to Lancaster, S.C., for a one-day qualifier that could get him a berth in The Jimmy Creed Invitational, which would be played at Camden Country Club — dubbed one of the toughest short courses in the country — in Camden, S.C. Only the top 35 would advance.
Competing against 88 other junior golfers, Hancock started fast with a birdie on No. 1, but things went sour with a double-bogey on No. 2. He managed to get back on track with 10 pars and two birdies over the next 12 holes.
But No. 15 proved a menace. A wedge from 84 yards out sailed over the green on his second shot and it took Hancock five more strokes to find the bottom of the cup for a triple-bogey. He went on to par the final three holes to finish the day with a three-over 75.
The news, however, was good at the clubhouse. Hancock’s 75 tied him at No. 17 and gave him the berth into this weekend’s Creed Invitational.
“It could have been so much better if I could have eliminated two holes,” Hancock said after his round.
What’s ahead …
Starting in June, Hancock will travel to Sea Island, Ga., to play in the Mid-Season Championship with the Hurricane Junior Golf Tour. The next day he will play a one-day, 36-hole qualifier at Santee National in Santee, S.C., for the USGA Junior Amateur.
Hancock then returns home to play in the Junior PGA Championship at Coastal Carolina’s Hackler Course in Myrtle Beach, S.C. Then it’s off to the 50th annual N.C. Junior Boys Championship at Colonial Country Club in Thomasville — an event that takes the top 64 competitors from stroke play in the first round and winds down with match play on the second day to determine a winner.
After that, Hancock will travel to Palm Beach Gardens, Fla., to play in The Optimist International World Championship at PGA National, the famed “Bear Trap” designed by Jack Nicklaus.
Cade’s fundraiser …
Hancock continues to work hard on his American Junior Golf Association’s Leadership Links Project, an effort that brings in dollars from donors for each birdie and eagle scored by Hancock .
To date, Hancock has earned more than $7,000 to be split between his charity of choice “Operation Smile” and the AJGA Junior Gold Scholarship Program.
The fundraiser continues through September, and donors can still jump on board. Just go online to AJGA.org, then go to “programs,” then to “leadership links,” then “search a junior,” then scroll down to “Cade Hancock” and click on his name. You can contribute to his effort, follow his progress as well as read about his mission.
W. Curt Vincent can be reached by calling 910-862-4163.