CARMEL, California (Oct. 20, 2016) — Starting at No. 10 at The Preserve Golf Club can be a bit challenging, with a ten minute drive from the clubhouse often shortening warm up sessions before a player is quite ready. The tee shot on the short par-4 is relatively benign, but miss right and you’ll soon see the appropriately-positioned spotter hunting down your ball to speed up play.
For Joe Deraney a missed tee shot right on No. 10 resulted in a double-bogey. Silence followed, as neither Deraney (Nashville, TN) or his B player partner Drew Kitchen (San Francisco) wanted to break the ice.
“I knew what he was thinking,” said Deraney. “‘I just bogeyed my first hole and beat my partner.'”
Maybe that thought was motivation, as the seasoned mid-am golfer with two big titles under his belt in 2016 went 6-under from that point forward, posting one of the most unlikely rounds of 68 you’ll see, especially at a course that can challenge even the best Mid-Ams.
Deraney, ranked No. 7 in the AmateurGolf.com Mid-Am rankings, will try to capture another big title, after winning both the Lupton Invitational (Tennessee) and the Timuquana Cup (Florida) earlier this season.
A total of seven players broke par on a beautiful California fall day that found the recently-remodeled course in top condition. Just a stroke back of Deraney at 69 is Gene Elliott, the Iowa standout who is also enjoying an excellent season. Elliott sparked his round with a holed third shot from 90 yards for eagle on the par-5 4th hole, and could have tied Deraney had he converted a short birdie try on the last hole.
2013 champion John Sawin is one of three players to have posted 2-under 70. Sawin is coming off a recent runner-up finish at another Mid-Am “major” – the Crump Cup at Pine Valley (yes, top Mid-Ams have it good). Andy McCabe of Dallas was the lowest of the first-timers; he is tied with Sawin and second year player Charles Waddell of Chicago.
Twice-defending champion Brady Exber posted 75, and after the round joked about the course setup today (with three new “back-back” tees). “I don’t think George [Kelley, the tournament chairman] wants to see an old guy win it again this year.”
Knowing Exber, he is bound to be in the thick of things come Saturday.
A player Steve Hudson of Alabama and his B partner Lawrence field of Oklahoma both played steady golf alone (they both shot par) and were really good as a team. Their 66 leaves them tied for the gross team best-ball lead with Brian Harris of Indiana and his partner John Brellenthin of Dallas. Brellenthin poured in 4 birdies on the front nine (three-straight on Nos. 6-8) and added another on the back nine to help his partner by three shots.
In the Net team competition, John Sawin and his B player partner James Student fired 8-under 64, but they are closely chased by three teams who fired 65, and an amazing six teams who are all tied at 66.
ANOTHER “SHOT OF THE DAY”
In addition to Elliott’s eagle on No. 4, Brad Wilder’s partner Nick Feczko holed his second shot on No. 7 for an eagle 2 and a net score of 1.