Weather-Delayed Start To New England Amateur Championship
East Providence, RI – Mother Nature pushed the pause button on the first round of the 2017 New England Amateur Championship, which is being held this week at Metacomet Country Club.
Play was suspended at 4:40 p.m. due to the storms in the area. Although play did resume just after 7:00 p.m., darkness forced play to end for a second time and final time on Tuesday at 8:15 p.m.
A total of 42 competitors who did not finish round one on Tuesday will return to East Providence on Wednesday. Play will resume at 7:45 a.m. The second round will commence as scheduled with the first of the second-round tee times scheduled for 8:00 a.m.
“We are looking forward to continuing play and getting back on schedule on Wednesday,” said Laura Nochta, the New England Golf Association’s manager of operations. “We appreciate the patience of the competitors and the work of the grounds crew to prepare the course for play today after the delay and for tomorrow’s resumption of play.”
Prior to the final suspension of play on Tuesday, the leader in the clubhouse was Kevin Silva (Montaup CC – RI) who posted a score of 4-under par 66. Silva, won the Rhode Island Golf Association Amateur Championship two years ago at Metacomet Country Club, made no secret of the fact that Metacomet Country Club is high on his list of favorite places to play.
“I like the sight lines here,” said Silva. “I don’t know what it is but I just feel comfortable. And, obviously, I like the greens.”
On this day, Silva carded a bogey-free round that featured birdies made on the 5th, 9th, 15th and 17th holes. The resident of New Bedford hit 14 greens.
“Three of the four I missed were within a few feet,’’ said Silva.
After all the rain which has made for soft conditions through much of the summer, Silva said he could see the greens changing even as early as he played.
“The greens are firming up,’’ said Silva. “It was nice to see the ball bounce on the green instead of spinning back off the green.”
Rhode Island’s Bobby Leopold (Wannamoisett CC – RI) and Ramsey Kong (Middlesex Eclub – CT) are one stroke behind at 3-under 67 and four more – including Billy Walthouse (Longmeadow CC – MA) who last week advanced to the semifinals of the Massachusetts Amateur Championship – finished with scores of 2-under par 68.
Leopold, a two-time Rhode Island Amateur champion put himself in good position with a 3-under par round that included birdies on his last two holes (the 8th and 9th holes). It was a welcome comeback from a bogey Leopold carded on the 7th hole. It was his lone miscue on the day, but not something that he was going to be dwelling on for too long.
“I’m going to work,’’ said Leopold following his round.
Leopold’s family owns an insurance agency in Cranston about 10 miles away, so it made for an easy commute from the course to his office.
Kong, meanwhile, got off to a hot start by making birdie on his first two holes – the 10th and 11th holes at Metacomet Country Club. He made the turn at 1-under before suffering a bogey on the 397-yard, par 4 1st hole. From that point on, however, he played 3-under par golf which included a birdie on the 490-yard, par 4 2nd hole and an eagle on his final hole of the day – the 463-yard, par 5 9th hole.
Defending champion James Turner (Bass Rocks GC – MA) got off to a strong start and was 2-under 34 at the turn. However, he suffered double-bogey on the 6th and the 11th holes en route to a round-one score of 3-over par 73.
The weather issues in the afternoon made for much tougher conditions. No one in the second half of the field was lower than 1-under par.
DAY 1 NOTES:
The 93-year-old Metacomet Country Club, designed by Donald Ross, provides a perfect example of Rhode Island golf. The 6,412-yard yard layout is built on 105 acres, very small for a private club. It plays to par-70 with only two par-5s, both reachable for players of this generation.
Named for a former chief of the Wampanoag tribe, which assisted Pilgrim settlers in the 17th century, the course offers plenty of opportunities to score, but demands accuracy.
Massachusetts’ Jackson Lang (Nashawtuc CC – MA), the Atlantic 10 champion playing for Davidson this year, was the poster boy for what can happen. He made only four pars all day. But he put himself in contention with a 1-under par 69 after carding eight birdies. He shot 39 on the front, including a seven on the par-5 9th hole which played as the easiest hole on the course, then had 30 on the back side. Last week, Lang advanced to the semifinals of the Massachusetts Amateur Championship.
One New Hampshire player – Ryan Tombs (Manchester CC – NH) – had a wild day. He went out in 4-under 34, including an eagle and birdie on the two par-5s, but then began the back nine with a triple bogey six on the par-3 10th and bogeys on both 11th and 12th holes. The recent Bryant University graduate finished with a score of 1-over par 71.
One year ago, Mark Turner (Bass Rocks GC – MA) was part of the winning team in this tournament. He caddied for his brother, James Turner, who won the event. On Monday, Mark not only played, but he bested his brother by five shots. Mark Turner was in a group in good position at 2-under 68, despite a double-bogey six on the 351-yard, downhill 18th hole. Doubles hurt his brother, too. The defending champion, who plays for Dartmouth, had doubles on 11 and 15 after going out in 2-under.
Day 1 Quick Links:
* Paul Kenyon contributed to this report.