For the second straight day, the lead at the Northeast Amateur belongs to LSUâ€™s Stewart Jolly, who posted his second straight round of 67 on Thursday. Jolly, pictured as he sizes up his putt on the sixth hole at Wannamoisett Country Club, is up three strokes at the midway point of the four-day event. PHOTO BY ERNEST A. BROWN
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.
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