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Itâ€™s taken a while, but winter appears to have finally arrived here in New England with the recent snow that has blanked our region.
The weather has been a little different for recent Cumberland High grad and talented golfer Jamison Randall, a freshman at Old Dominion University in Virginia.
â€śItâ€™s better than New England,â€ť said Randall, via the phone on Saturday morning. â€śItâ€™s much warmer. In fact, Iâ€™m playing golf (today).â€ť
After a standout youth career on the junior and amateur circuit and for the Clippers where he guided his teammates to a state championship this past June with an individual title, Randall is enjoying his time down south for the Monarchs, and adjusting to the often-tough transition as a college player.
The team finished up the fall semester of its golf schedule in late October and will begin the spring session in just over a week. The fall season saw Randall begin by firing his first two rounds of his college career under par with back-to-back 70s, followed by a four-over 75 at the Maryland Intercollegiate on Sept. 13. The remaining three tournaments have been a learning experience.
â€śThose were probably my best two rounds of the season, statistically and just the way I played,â€ť said Randall, referring to the opening two rounds of the Maryland tourney. â€śOther than that, itâ€™s been mediocre. I just couldnâ€™t get it all together in one round. One round my short game would be off. Another round it would be my long game. All my aspects never came together. I am looking forward to the spring season.â€ť
The 18-year-old Randall competed in all four of Old Dominionâ€™s matches during the fall. After Maryland, he finished tied for 61st at the VCU (Va.) Invitational on Sept. 27 with consistent scores of 74, 73 and 73. He was tied for 53rd at the Joe Agee (Va.) Invitational on Oct. 4 (84-79-78 241) and tied for 53rd at the ODU/OBX (N.C.) Invitational on Oct. 25 (78-74-74 226).
Randallâ€™s stroke average for the four matches was a 75.3.
â€śTo sum it up in one phrase, itâ€™s all been up and down,â€ť he said. â€śThere was never one time where I played well the entire round. Every single one of my rounds, I started a few over after the first few holes and came back and birdied like the last four holes. I never really kept it together the whole round.â€ť
After becoming the first golfer from Cumberland to earn a state crown since 1989 with his victory at the state tournament at Cranston Country Club, Randall had a strong summer in his preparation for Old Dominion. It was highlighted by his performance at the R.I. Amateur at Potowomut Country Club in July when he lost a gutsy match in the Round of 16 to eventual winner and three-time champion Brad Valois after 21 holes.
â€śThat match definitely helped me improve as a golfer. I was four down in the match and came back,â€ť said Randall, a veteran of countless junior and open tournaments throughout the region and country. â€śThat definitely helped me improve as a golfer and so did the other tournaments I played in.â€ť
In preparation for the spring season, just likes heâ€™s done the past five years, Randall did some tweaking and fine tuning with golf pro Jeff Dantas at 426 Fitness in Warren (formerly Elite Golf) during the recent Christmas break.
Not that heâ€™s disappointed so far, but heâ€™s confident his game will improve.
â€śGolfing is 90 percent mental,â€ť Randall said. â€śI think the way I played this fall was part mental and a combination of other things.â€ť
Old Dominion will begin the spring session Jan. 30-31 at the Jacksonville Invitational in Florida. That match will be played at TPC Sawgrass, the home of the Players Championship and considered one of the most famous courses on the PGA Tour with its picturesque layout and signature island green on the 17th hole.
â€śI am really excited about that one,â€ť Randall said.
After the Seahawk Intercollegiate in North Carolina the following month, Randall and his teammates will spend some time in Puerto Rico over Spring Break when they compete in the Caribbean Invitational March 6-8. The Monarchs conclude their season at the end of April with the Colonial Athletic Association (CAA) Championship in Delaware.
Randall admits he misses his family, but believes he made the right decision bringing his game down south. Heâ€™s doing well scholastically, too. In her first semester as a Sports Management major with a minor in business, he finished with a 3.0 GPA.
â€śItâ€™s a lot different here,â€ť Randall said. â€śThe competition isnâ€™t even close. There are so much more accomplished players down here. Itâ€™s good for me. Itâ€™s good for me as a golfer. The better competition will make me better in the long run.â€ť