Sports editor emeritus
EAST PROVIDENCE â€“ Someone turned the wind machine down to low and Mother Nature dropped a bit of rain on Wannamoisett Country Clubâ€™s dry greens and all of a sudden the best players in this yearâ€™s Northeast Amateur field began to make some birdies.
Not a whole lot, mind you. LSUâ€™s Stewart Jolly made four birdies en route to his second straight round of 67 on Thursday, giving him a three-shot lead at the halfway point over Mercer University grad Hans Reimers, who shot par 69 in the second round.
A total of 13 players are bunched within six shots of the leader. The field scoring average dropped nearly 1.5 shots from the first to second round.
â€śThe course played softer today,â€ť Jolly pointed out. â€śThe wind died down and we got some rain early in the morning. Iâ€™m not even thinking of (leading). Iâ€™m really looking forward to the next two days. I just have to keep hitting fairways and greens and making a few putts.â€ť
That formula worked well for Jolly, who in his first trip to Wannamoisett quickly developed a conservative game plan.
â€śWith the pin locations where they are, on the corners of the greens, I realized itâ€™s very important not to short-side myself,â€ť said the 21-year-old Alabama native. â€śI just wanted to play really aggressive but safe shots into the greens and if I miss the green, I want to miss in a place where I could get it up and in.â€ť
Starting his round on the back nine, Jolly birdied No. 10, bogeyed the par three 12th and then birdied the next two holes, both par fours.
â€śI hit it close on 10,â€ť Jolly said, recounting his birdies. â€śMade a really nice putt on 13 from 20 feet and then from five feet on 14. I played solid, very steady, all day.â€ť
Jolly went out in 33 and briefly opened up a four-shot lead on the field, though that kind of news doesnâ€™t spread very quickly on a golf course without scoreboards. He just kept driving the ball into fairways and soon was rewarded with a birdie on the par four 4th hole to get to five-under par.
A three-putt bogey on No. 6 put him back at four-under, where he finished.
â€śI pulled a five-footer on No. 6,â€ť he said. â€śOverall, though, my putting has been good on these greens. I usually consider my driving and striking the ball the best part of my game but I didnâ€™t drive it as good as I wanted today.â€ť
Jolly will be paired with Reimers in todayâ€™s final twosome (1:38 p.m.) of the third round. Itâ€™s only natural that a few players will make a run at that final group. One of them could be South Carolinaâ€™s Will Murphy, who stands at 140, six back, after double-bogeying No. 9, his final hole. Murphy won the Sunnehanna Amateur in Pennsylvania earlier this month.
Patrick Christovich had the best round of the day, a 66 that put the New Orleans native at 141. Donâ€™t count him out either.
Among local players, North Providenceâ€™s Charlie Blanchard led the way with a fine round of 71 that got him to 145 after two rounds and tied for 40th place.
Cumberlandâ€™s Jamison Randall also shot 71 and is tied for 54th with a great chance to make todayâ€™s 54-hole cut, something he didnâ€™t do last year in his debut appearance at the Northeast Amateur. Randall started on the back nine at 8 in the morning and shot one-under 34, five shots better than his finish in Wednesdayâ€™s first round.
After birdieing the 18th, Randall parred No. 1 and then bogeyed the next two holes, including the short par three third hole, which is playing as the third easiest hole on the golf course. A bogey on another par three, No. 8, put Randall at nine-over after two rounds. Still, it was a step in the right direction for the Old Dominion golfer, improving from one day to the next â€¦ but not quite finishing off what should have been a par round.
Randall has drawn a 9:54 tee time this morning.
Providence teenager Will Dickson finished with a 74 and sits at 149. He needs to shoot around par today to make the cut.
CHIP SHOTS: The 505-yard second hole is ranked No. 1 for difficulty. The long par four is yielding an average of 4.432 strokes per round to each golfer. There have been just seven birdies on No. 2 against 97 pars, 62 bogeys and nine doubles. â€¦ The second toughest hole so far is the par three 15th, playing to a 3.381 norm, with just nine birdies in two days â€¦ The front nine (par 34) is playing to a 36.278 average score while the back, a par 35, is at 36.290. â€¦ No. 8, which had a difficult pin position on top of a mound in the second round, has allowed only five birdies in two rounds, lowest among the 18 holes.View more articles in: