Ashley Berry’s been down this path before and found success.
So on the first day of the Herald-Sun Golf Classic’s two-day qualifying Monday, the 2011 medalist in the tournament had a plan.
“I just wanted to come out and play my qualifying round and not make any bogeys and get ready for match play,” Berry said.
Berry, of Cary, did make two bogeys in his round at Hillandale Golf Course but still wound up with a 68 to lead the tournament’s main division heading into Tuesday’s final round of qualifying.
In the tournament’s newly formed senior division 68-year-old Jim Pearce of Creedmoor shot a 67 to lead the rest of the field by six strokes.
The two days of qualifying are used to establish flights and seed the pairings for the four days match play, which begins on Thursday and winds up with Sunday’s championship matches.
The top 16 golfers in qualifying will comprise the Championship Flight, where the tournament champion will be determined. Berry will carry a 1-stroke lead over Raleigh’s Jay Robinson into today’s play in the battle for the No.1 overall seed.
Robinson shot a 69 at Hillandale on Monday. Two other golfers are two shots back of Berry. Stephen Abrams of Wilson and Rougemont’s Steven Lavenets fired 70s on Monday.
At 71 and three strokes back are five golfers — Britt Mitchell of Creedmoor, Connor Moore of Durham, Matt Roberts of Hillsborough, Junior Schrickx of DUrham and Ronnie Williams, Jr., of Creedmoor.
Berry’s only problems came on the course’s shortest holes as he missed the greens on the par 3s, failed to get up and down and settled for bogeys.
Other than that, he was stellar. He scored birdies on the par 5s more than made up for those two bogeys.
Again, doing well on the longer holes was part of his plan.
“Just birdie the par 5s and play even golf you can have a good score,” Berry said.
This is the first year that the Champions and President’s flights have been lowered to 16 slots rather than 32. That makes the battle to get into the top flight even more fierce.
Following Monday’s play, the difference between Berry and the 16th place golfer was only five strokes.
A golfer shooting a 74 (there are seven golfers at that score) would be six shots behind the leader but in position to be in the President’s Flight and unable to compete for the overall tournament title.
Pearce said he was happy the tournament organizers decided to reconfigure the tournament to include a senior division.
“Let me tell you, I’m a senior playing and I think that’s going to be good for the tournament,” Pearce said. “There would be times when you would get matched up with a college player and you wouldn’t have a shot at it. The seniors really appreciate it.”
On Monday, the rest of the field didn’t have a chance to match Pearce, who was 1-under on his first nine holes and an even hotter 3-under on his final nine.
“The conditions were very, very favorable,” Pearce said.
Pearce started on hole No. 10 and bogeyed No. 11 before making up for it with a birdie on No. 13.
He also birdied the No. 15 hole, using a 7-iron to leave himself a 1-foot birdie putt. He won the tournament’s closest to the pin award for that shot.
Durham’s Fleming Lyon is second among the seniors at 73 while Durham’s Dink Andrews is third at 75.
Herald-Sun Golf Classic
At Hillandale Golf Course
Monday’s First Round
Ronnie Williams, Jr.|71
Jerry Robinson Sr.|74
Doug Best Jr.|89
Clif Cox Jr.|89
Jas de Oliveira|89
Tuesday’s Second Round
7:30 a.m. -- Ashley Berry, Darrell Brown, Clark Green
7:38 a.m. -- Ted Maynor, Oren Stuchiner, Lonnie Browning
7:46 a.m. -- Robert Hockman, Jackson McClintock, Jas de Oliveira, Samuel Paynter
7:54 a.m. -- David Rovetto, Robert Johnson, Ronnie Williams Jr., Tim Garrett
8:02 a.m. – Bryan Atkins, Johnnie Bryant, Tom Swain, Jack Tomkovick
8:10 a.m. – Doug Baker, Hershal Stephenson, Sam Farlow, Max Smith
8:18 a.m. -- Ryan Thompson, Brandon Farlow, Andrew Hanna
8:34 a.m. – Billy Abrams, Johnny Adams, Destin Barnes, Bill Birken
8:42 a.m. – Tad Galloway, BJ Nowak, Junior Schrickx, Robert Semler
8:50 a.m. – Matt Phillips, Jake Jackson, Greg Lassiter, Stacey Anfindsen
8:58 a.m. -- Jonas Larsen, Jack Garrett, Matt Ross, Phillip Ray
9:06 a.m. – Abe Lewis, Bill Martinson, Jim Pearce, Mark Pennington
7:30 a.m. -- Eric Ardery, Stephen Abrams, Alex Brese, Stephen Lavenets
7:38 a.m. -- Jimmy Davis, Keith Johnson, Jeff Johnson, Robert Johnson, Kendell White
7:46 a.m. -- Peter Fox, Cecil Lockley, Chris Filiaci, Bruce Eckard
7:54 a.m. – Nils Norgaard, Mick Parker, Michael Burton, Blake McSherry
8:02 a.m. -- Cedell Alexander, Micah Alexander, Connor Moore, Lucas Starrett
8:10 a.m. – Danny Bailey, Doug Hall, John Ivey, Gerrett Hutson
8:18 a.m. -- Gary Wheeley, Doug Best, Radzi Bvumbe, Royall Williams
8:34 a.m. -- Jason Chambers, Gary Chambers, Phil McCarson, Tim Simpson
8:42 a.m. – Jerry Dernar, Kent Farrell, Andy Garner, Louis Herndon
8:50 a.m. -- Edward Musselman, Charles Salmon, Ben Thomas, Ronnie Powell
8:58 a.m. -- Kevin Cheek, Stephen Kovacs, Nick Locantore, Jerry Tucker
9:06 a.m. – Chris Outland, David Outland, John Synan, David Synan
9:14 a.m. – Wayne Bridges, Dink Andrews, Lea Couch, Dante Berini
Noon – Fred Avila, Clif Cox Jr., Bill Hunt, Jerry Warren
12:08 p.m. -- Stephen Grosman, Jeff Abbott, Kyle Garrett, Matt Roberts,
12:16 p.m. -- Eddie Ball, Richard Penny, Scott Penny, Johnny Taylor
12:24 p.m. – Shane Hamlett, Adam Hamlett, Greg Byrd, Brad Young
12:32 p.m. – Jeff Robinson, Jay Robinson, Jerry Robinson, Travis Byrd
12:40 p.m. -- Tim King, Jimmy King, Richard Wagner, Jacob Johnson
12:48 p.m. – Nathan Freeman, Ben Fuller, Britt Mitchell, Joe Weinberger
1:04 p.m. -- Dennis Perry, David Perry, Fleming Lyon, Wade Hamlett
1:12 p.m. -- Mike Hall, Darryl Naillon, Fritz Hine, Doug Miller
1:20 p.m. -- Brad Pittman, John Pittman, Chad Bryant, Derrick Sims
1:28 p.m. -- Melvin Barnes