Newbie, Pugh, grabs Durham Am lead; past champs in the hunt

May. 24, 2014 @ 06:50 PM

As results poured into the scorer’s table during the first round of the 41st annual Durham Amateur Golf Championship Saturday, names familiar to the tournament appeared near the top of the leaderboard as four past winners positioned themselves to capture another title at Hillandale Golf Club.

However, it was an outsider from Asheboro, playing in the final grouping, who had neither played in the tournament nor shot a single round on the course before Saturday who takes the lead into Sunday’s final round.

Gary Pugh shot a 2-under-par 69, 35 on the front nine and 34 on the back, for the first day lead.

“I tried to play conservative off the tee because I did not know the course,” Pugh said of his approach to the unfamiliar terrain. “I knew it (Hillandale) was a Donald Ross (designed) course. I play on a Donald Ross course in Ashboro (Ashboro Municipal).

“I knew you want to keep the ball out in front of the green and you don’t want to miss it to the sides,” noting that he hit his driver well and started making putts on the back nine as he birdied three of the last seven holes.

John Gaddy, who won in 2012, and Trent Gregory, winner of the 1998 tournament, are a part of a three-way tie in second with similar front nine and back nine scores of 35 for totals of 70.

Jason Garrett, who won the tournament in 2011, and Michael Smith, the 2005 winner, posted scores of even-par 71, to enter the final day tied in fifth place.

“The course played about as benign as it’ll play,” said Gaddy. “There was no wind. Today was the day to have a pretty good score.”

Last year’s runner up, Brandon Reece, was the third player to put up a score of 70. In the 2013 tournament, he lost to Dalton Rich in a one-hole playoff after each player posted a two-day score of 141.

With a 70, Reece’s score is one shot better than his first-round score from a year ago.

“I had some chances, could have maybe gone 66 or 67, but didn’t really feel comfortable on the greens,” Reece said. “I was consistent, hit some good drives, and didn’t do anything stupid, so I feel comfortable there, just got to get it going with the putter.”

Smith, who is among the leaders at 71, shot the only eagle for the day, a three-shot score on the par-five 14th hole.

The 14th hole is rated among the easiest of the course with an 18 handicap. However, it presents some challenges as there is a small hill that the players must clear before the hole doglegs left with two bunkers guarding the front of the green.

Smith hit his drive to roughly 180 yards from the hole. He then hit his six iron to within four feet of the hole and made the subsequent putt.

Only 46 players entered the tournament this year, a lower turnout rate than expected. Hillandale GC pro Karl Kimball said that the club will consider changing the tournament to a different date next year to not conflict with the holiday weekend.

NOTES — Proceeds from the Durham Amateur go to the H.E.A.R.T.S. Club, a non-profit foundation that supports the Duke Children’s Hospital.


Durham Amateur Golf Championship

at Hillandale Golf Course

Saturday’s Scores*

Par 71, 6,339 yards

69 — Gary Pugh (35-34)

70 — Brandon Reece (35-35)

70 — John Gaddy (35-35)

70 — Trent Gregory (35-35)

71 — Ronnie Williams Jr. (36-35)

71 — Michael Smith (37-34)

71 — Jason Garrett (37-34)

72 — Brian Gann (36-36)

72 — Steve Bigham (35-37)

74 — Travis Byrd (37-37)

74 — Stephen Lavenets (36-38)

74 — Chris Winters (38-36)

74 — Tim Garrett (38-36)

75 — Garrett Hazen (37-38)

75 — David Weinberger (38-37)

76 — Johnathan Lara (37-39)

76 — Matt Pettis (37-39)

76 — Billy Gilbert (37-39)

77 — Britt Mitchell (38-39)

77 — Mark Clayton (39-38)

78 — Miles Honeycutt (37-41)

78 — Jacob Blankenship (42-36)

79 — Alex Brese (40-39)

80 — Justin Finger (40-40)

80 — Melvin Barnes (40-40)

80–  Kevin Lane (39-41)

80 — Lee Stewart (40-40)

81 — Newt Barringer (42-39)

81 — Stephen Kovacs (45-36) WD

81 — Kevin Cheek (39-42) WD

82 — Micah Alexander (45-37)

83 — Chuck Jenkins (43-40)

84 — Joe Weinberger (43-41)

84 — Connor Moore (44-40)

85 — Brent McCoy (43-42)

86 — Macon Tunstall (45-41)

86 — Harry Buzhardt Jr. (44-41)

86 — Mike Groenewald (44-42)

87 — Tom Swain (40-47)

87 — Wiley Fogleman (44-43)

89 — Matt Ross (47-42)

89 — Harry Buzhardt III (40-49)

91 — Bruce Eckard (45-46)

92 — Jack Tomkovick (48-44)

92 — Ron Brunson (43-49)

112 — Lee Bartels (58-54)

* Final round scheduled today.

Sunday, May 25 Durham Am Tee Times

9 a.m. — Lee Bartels, Ron Brunson, Jack Tomkovick, Bruce Eckard

9:09 — Harry Buzhardt, III, Matt Ross, Tom Swain, Wiley Fogleman

9:18 — Harry Buzhardt Jr., Mike Groenewald, Macon Tunstall, Brent McCoy

9:27 — Connor Moore, Joe Weinberger, Chuck Jenkins, Micah Alexander

9:36 — Newt Barringer, Lee Stewart, Kevin Lane, Melvin Barnes

9:45 — Justin Finger, Alex Brese, Jacob Blankenship, Miles Honeycutt

9:54 — Mark Clayton, Britt Mitchell, Billy Gilbert, Matt Pettis

10:03 — Johnathan Lara, David Weinberger, Garrett Hazen, Tim Garrett

10:12 — Chris Winters, Stephen Lavenets, Travis Byrd, Steve Bigham

10:21 — Brian Gann, Jason Garrett, Michael Smith, Ronnie Williams Jr.

10:30 — Trent Gregory, Brandon Reece, John Gaddy, Gary Pugh