- Golfer Benefits
CRANSTON, Rhode Island – Jared Nelson has had quite the summer, and it’s not even the end of July.
He won the Vermont Amateur at Brattleboro Country Club just two weeks ago and he also won the prestigious Hornblower Invitational at Plymouth Country Club in Massachusetts in June. Nelson, aided by a timely trio of birdies on Tuesday, currently sits in a share of the lead after Round Two of the 93rd New England Amateur Championship at Alpine Country Club (par 72, 6,808 yards).
His consecutive 69s leave him in a share of the lead with Jackson Roman who also carded 69 in both rounds. Joe Harney (Charles River Country Club) entered Tuesday with a share of the lead at 5-under but sits one back of the two Vermonters.
A total of 53 players made the cut at 4 over. Out of the 53, that made the cut, 29 are from Massachusetts. The third and final round begins at 7:30 a.m. Wednesday as players will compete in twosomes over the last 18-holes of stroke play.
“I was hoping for a little less wind,” said Nelson with a smile. “But this morning the wind was up quite a bit. Our whole group was kind of stagnant. But I was able to find it with three consecutive birdies on the last couple holes of my second nine.”
Starting on the back nine, Nelson carded two birdies and two bogeys to go out in even par. But then made birdies on Nos. 6 (par 3, 225 yards), 7 (par 4, 400 yards) and 8 (par 5, 555 yards). He chipped in on No. 6 for birdie, stuffed a pitching wedge from 130 yards to eight feet on No. 7 and he rolled in a 7-footer on No. 8 to get to 6 under for the tournament.
“I think the golf course is pretty much right in front of you,” said Nelson, 22, of Rutland, Vt. “What you see is what you get. You must keep the ball below the hole. Right now, hitting out of the rough isn’t much of a penalty on your approach because the greens were softened by the rain. If they get firm again, finding fairways will be important.”
Uncharacteristically, Nelson has been struggling off the tee. But he has been able to get away with it thus far.
“I had a driver head that I loved but I cracked it last weekend,” said Nelson. “I got a new driver head, but I just haven’t been comfortable with it. I need to trust it and hopefully I can find it. If not, I will just hit 3-wood off the tee.”
There have been three players from Vermont who have claimed the New England Amateur. The last? Evan Russell back in 2013 at Green Mountain National Golf Club in Vermont.
“I’ll have a target score to where I want to get to,” said Nelson, a rising fifth-year senior at the University of Connecticut. “I will probably look at the leaderboard at the turn and see where I stack up. It’s just another round of golf. I am sure there will be some nerves, but I have some experiences to draw from to help me.”
Roman is a rising sophomore at Loyola University Maryland.
He got off to a hot start and was 3-under through 10. He added birdies on Nos. 14 (par 4, 395 yards) and 15 (par 3, 171 yards).
“I woke up this morning and told myself to keep doing what I have been doing,” said Roman. “I don’t try to get too stressed on a given round. I knew I had a good chance today to play well. I am pleased with how I have played so far.”
On No. 14, he stuffed a lob wedge from 90 yards to three inches and hit an 8-iron on No. 15 to eight feet.
A couple of bogeys coming in washed away all the momentum he built, but Roman wasn’t upset by it. He said that if you are out of position at Alpine you can make bogeys.
If Roman would secure victory, he would give Connecticut back-to-back titles. Cody Paladino won last year at Great River Golf Club in Connecticut.
“A year or so ago, I had a streak where I won three consecutive tournaments,” said Roman, 18, of Berlin, Conn. “One of my coaches told me to always just focus on hitting the fairway and then hitting the green. By making it as simple as possible, it allows me to put more pressure on my opponents. I am looking forward to having the opportunity to play for a title again.”
Joe Harney entered Tuesday with a share of the lead at 5-under but wasn’t able to build on it. Despite a birdie to begin Round 2 on the 10th hole, Harney finished with an even-par 72 and remains at 5-under total. Harney wasn’t able to get as many birdie putts to drop as his approach shots weren’t nearly as on target as the day prior.
“I hit some good iron shots that ended up going a little long in the wind,” Harney said. “Yesterday, I was just stuffing them in and I didn’t stuff any today.”
Harney, the former professional and winner of the 2015 Mass Open champion, said he’s excited to be in the hunt for a victory.
“I’ve been playing well, and I just hope to keep rolling tomorrow,” he said.
Alan Smith (Crumpin-Fox Club), who finished his senior year at Charleston Southern University, was one of three players to shoot 4-under 68 on Tuesday, and that moved him to T6 on the leaderboard. The Winchendon native made five birdies and shot 34 on both nines.
Owen Egan (Winchester Country), who just finished his first year at Holy Cross, showed some poise down the stretch. After his 3-foot birdie putt on the 7th completely spun around the cup and out, Egan was disappointed but was determined to finish strongly. eagle and a birdie on his final two holes to move to 3-under and sit just three strokes off the lead. Egan showed poise on his final two holes, hitting a 3-iron into the green and making eagle on the 8th, and then sinking a 20-foot birdie putt on the par-3 9th to finish the day 3-under overall.
“It definitely motivated me to put the last few holes together because I was pretty bummed, but that just fired me up to make an eagle and a birdie,” Egan said.
As for the final round, “I’ve had a bunch of birdie putts that haven’t fallen, but if the putter gets hot tomorrow, I could have a good round.”
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