GREENSBORO, N.C. – On the strength of a magical 8-under-par final round and a bogey-free 72 holes of golf over the past four days, former Western Carolina men’s golfer J.T. Poston etched his name into the PGA Tour record books on Sunday. Matching the two-year-old tournament record with a 22-under par 258, Poston won the 2019 Wyndham Championship played at the Sedgefield Country Club.
Overcoming a three-stroke deficit at the beginning of the day, Poston was nearly flawless in matching his career-low round of 62 in securing his maiden career tour victory that came on his 51st career start. He edged fellow North Carolinian Webb Simpson by a stroke and South Korean golfer Byeong Hun An – who just missed a would-be tournament-tying birdie putt on the 18th – by two strokes.
More impressive than just the first-ever victory, though, was the way the former Catamount did so. Poston became the first player since Lee Trevino in 1974 in New Orleans to win a 72-hole stroke-play event on tour without carding a bogey or worse. He is also the first former Catamount men’s golfer to win on golf’s biggest level of competition.
With a partisan crowd looking on, Poston surged atop the leaderboard and took sole possession of first place on the No. 15 with a birdie after chipping to within 6 feet of the cup out of a green-side bunker. After finishing his round, Poston had to wait for the final pairing to come through before being able to celebrate the momentous victory.
“To do it here in North Carolina an hour-and-a-half from where I grew up … is something I couldn’t have imagined,” said Poston on CBS television following the win.
On the green after receiving the trophy – the Sam Snead Cup -- he continued that home-grown appreciation stating, “I’d like to thank the Western Carolina fans who came out. You guys really helped me along.”
And then during interviews with media following the trophy ceremony, Poston was again asked how the home state and Western Carolina impact from the gallery affected him over the course of the event.
“I've got so many friends and family that are here, coming in from all over the place. Some came in last night, some came in this morning. The celebration's going to be a lot of fun. There’s a lot of Hickory cheers and a lot of Western Carolina cheers out there. I definitely heard them all day, so I can't wait to celebrate with them,” said Poston.
Poston became the fifth North Carolina native to win the tournament in the 80-year history following Raymond Floyd, Scott Hoch, Davis Love and Webb Simpson.
Recruited to Western Carolina by former head coaches Gorham Bradley and Carter Cheves, Poston claimed six individual medalist honors during his playing career in Cullowhee, twice winning the Southern Conference men’s golf championship. Under the tutelage of former men’s golf coach Bryant Odom in 2014-15, Poston continued to forge new ground for Catamount men’s golf by advancing into the NCAA Championship field out of the NCAA Chapel Hill Regional, rallying on the 54th hole of regulation before winning on the second hole of a playoff.
Following so many great golfers in the Southern Conference history including one of his WCU predecessors in Matt Cook, Poston continues to pave the way for future collegiate golfers.
“Western Carolina golf just took a huge step,” said current Catamount men’s golf head coach Tim Eckberg, who was in the gallery on Sunday along with former coaches Bradley and Odom and around a dozen former Catamount men’s golfers. “To be here for it, following JT around with so many alums of WCU and WCU Golf, I’m speechless. We all believed this was coming – he’s just so good. But to do it here in North Carolina with all of these people around him, I’m just so proud of what he accomplished.”
Eckberg added, “This is great for our program in so many ways, but he is such a class act and I couldn’t be prouder of him and what this does for him. Our team is going to come in this fall more fired up than ever before.”
Poston started the week 83rd in the PGA Tour’s season-long points race, assured of going to the playoffs. But now he’ll head to The Northern Trust at No. 27, with a Tour Championship berth very much in play and with his first-ever Masters invite for next spring already secured.