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Wind-swept Wannamoisett gets the better of Northeast Amateur field on Day 1

June 18, 2014

Cumberland's Jamison Randall opened with a 76 on Day 1 of the Northeast Amateur on Wednesday. PHOTO BY ERNEST A. BROWN

Sports editor emeritus
EAST PROVIDENCE — Using a steady wind as its most effective punch, Wannamoisett Country Club more than held its own on Wednesday in the first round of the 53rd Northeast Amateur Invitational.

Only five of the 87 contestants broke par with medalist honors going to LSU junior Stewart Jolly, who teed off last and came home first, birdieing his final two holes for a two-under par round of 67.

Four players tied for second with 68s – UNLV’s Kurt Kitayama, Purdue’s Adam Schenk, Mississippi’s Blake Morris and Mercer University grad Hans Reimers.

Wake Forest’s Clancy Waugh, who shot three-under par on his opening nine (the back side), came home in 37 for an even-par round of 69. North Carolina’s Bailey Patrick also shot 69. Everyone else in the field went over par, including 10 players at one-over 70.

Cumberland’s Jamison Randall, a junior at Old Dominion University, struggled with his putting and settled for 76 – six shots higher than his opening 70 in last year’s tournament.

“I’m not surprised,” Randall said when told after his round ended that nobody was tearing up the golf course. “It was windy out there today. I didn’t make any putts. My caddy and I were reading the lines pretty well but I pulled a few putts. I have to get back on the putting green and work on some things.”

Randall is coming off a strong year at Old Dominion University in Virginia, where he has earned team MVP honors the past two seasons. He peaked with a victory in the Rice Intercollegiate tournament in Texas this past February when he shot a five-under 211 for 54 holes. Randall was named Conference USA Player of the week for his achievement.

Still, it’s a step up to play against many of the nation’s top amateur golfers at the Northeast Amateur, a tournament Randall followed over the past decade when he fell in love with the sport. Randall won the 2011 R.I. high school individual crown and finished second in the 2012 R.I. Amateur. He qualified for the 2013 U.S. Amateur, too, with a 138 total at Metacomet Country Club.

“I will see where golf takes me,” Randall admitted. “First things first ... I need to improve my game, get it to a level where I want it to be. Every tournament is a learning experience, especially the Northeast, which is really important to me. Last year, I shot 70, 72 and 75 and missed the (54-hole) cut by one shot.”

Randall made three pars and a bogey in his first four holes on Wednesday, then bogeyed No. 5 and 8 to go out in 37. Needing to improve on the back nine, he struggled, making bogeys on three straight holes from 11 through 13, then bogeying 15 before finishing with three pars.

On the par 5 17th hole, playing down wind, Randall’s tee shot soared down the right side of the fairway before trickling into some light rough. He hit a solid long iron to five yards short of the green.

Still facing a chip across the length of a sloping green, Randall’s delicate shot went right past the hole and ran out 15 feet to the edge of the green. He settled for par and then made a routine par four on No. 18. It was a solid finish to a long day of grinding on the relentless Wannamoisett golf course.

Randall stands 68th heading into the second round, where he has an 8 o’clock tee time this morning. He’ll need to shoot around par to get back into the middle of the field. A reasonable goal is to put two good rounds together and qualify for Saturday’s final round.

If Randall can’t take his game to the next level, he can fall back on the degree he is pursuing in sports management at ODU.

“I know in some way or another, I’m going to end up working around the game of golf,” he said. “I might end up as a club pro. I just love the game and everything about it.”

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CHIP SHOTS: Low Rhode Islander honors went to Newport’s John Hayes IV with a 72 … North Providence’s Charlie Blanchard went out early and shot 74 … Warwick’s Brad Valois and Providence teenager Will Dickson, 15, both settled for 75 … Coventry’s Bobby Leopold finished with a 77 and Smithfield’s Dan Blessing rounded out the local contingent with a 79.

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