Locals in position at U.S. Amateur
by Jimmy Golen
Associated Press Sports Writer
August 12, 2013 11:40 PM | 886 views | 0 0 comments | 6 6 recommendations | email to a friend | print
BROOKLINE, Mass. — You’ll excuse Neil Raymond if he doesn’t view The Country Club in quite the same way as many of the Americans teeing it up in the U.S. Amateur this week.

For the 27-year-old Englishman, the course isn’t the place where Justin Leonard sank a 45-foot putt to clinch the 1999 Ryder Cup, it’s the one where “the U.S. guys (were) running on the green on 17 across Ollie’s line” to celebrate. And Raymond didn’t know much at all about Francis Ouimet’s victory in the 1913 U.S. Open — against two British golf pros — until he arrived in Brookline this week.

“Hearing stories about it, it sounds pretty cool,” Raymond said on Monday after shooting 67 in the first round of the Amateur at the 7,310-yard, par-70 course. “It’s about as good as my golf memories can have.”

Raymond’s 3-under makes him one of the early favorites for the 113th U.S. Amateur, which consists of two days of stroke play followed by six rounds of match play as the majority of the leaders played the easier Charles River Country Club on Monday. That changes today as they will move to the historic venue Raymond calls, “scary.”

“If you hang back, you can’t reach some of these holes, and you’re fighting a losing battle,” said Raymond, who won this year’s St. Andrews Links Trophy at the historic Scottish course. “As soon as I got under par, I was just thinking keep my head, see what I could do.”

Two local players — former Harrison High School star Ollie Schniederjans and former Etowah golfer Anders Albertson — completed play at The Country Club shooting 2-over par 72s. The Georgia Tech teammates find themselves in a tie for 58th place as they prepare to play Charles River. The top 64 players after today’s round qualify for match play.

Another Yellow Jacket, former Kell standout Michael Hines, is one shot farther back after shooting 73 at Charles River. In a unique round, Hines birdied three of the four par 3s on the day, but four bogeys and a double bogey in a stretch of seven holes kept him from posting a better round. He will start today’s round in a tie for 86th.

Nick Hardy, of Northbrook, Ill., shot a 65 at Charles River to take the first-round lead, and Richy Werenski of South Hadley, Mass., had a 66, thanks to a double-eagle on the par-5, 558-yard 16th. Three others came in at 3-under at the 6,547-yard, par-70 companion course.

“It feels great to be competing against the best,” Hardy said. “I’m going to stay aggressive at T.C.C.”

But they still have the more difficult round ahead of them at a course that Raymond called “scary.”

“If you hang back, you can’t reach some of these holes, and you’re fighting a losing battle,” said Raymond, who won this year’s St. Andrews Links Trophy at the historic Scottish course. “As soon as I got under par, I was just thinking keep my head, see what I could do.”

It’s the 16th USGA championship and the sixth U.S. Amateur at The Country Club, which also hosted the ’99 Ryder Cup, when Leonard’s putt on No. 17 essentially clinched the victory against Jose Maria Olazabal and the Europeans. But no event has had such a hold on golf history as the 1913 U.S. Open, when local caddie Ouimet beat British superstars Harry Vardon and Ted Ray in a playoff.

Defending Amateur champion Steven Fox was 2-over at The Country Club on Monday.

Marietta Daily Journal sports editor John Bednarowski contributed to this report.

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