Jolly takes first round lead at Northeast Amateur Invitational


EAST PROVIDENCE — Firm and fast conditions greeted the participants in the opening round of the 53rd Annual Northeast Amateur Invitational on a warm and windy Wednesday, June 18, at Wannamoisett Country Club in Rumford.

The renowned Donald Ross-design lived up to its billing as one of the most testing tracks in the state, if not nationally, as only a handful of players managed to break par 69.

Stewart Jolly led the way with a 2-under, 67. Jolly, a junior at Louisiana State University, closed with birdies on the par 5 17th and par 4 18th holes to break away slightly from a pack that finished a shot behind.

Four players finished Day 1 at 1-under. They were Kurt Kitayama, Adam Schenk, Hans Reimers and Blake Morris. Kitayama, who just completed his junior season at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, was at 2-under late until making a bogey on the par 4, 18th hole. Morris, one of the New Englanders in the field and who plays at Ole Miss, birded the par 4 13th and the par 3 15th to go along with a bogey at the 437-yard par 4 sixth.

Two others ended the opening round at even par, Clancy Waugh and Bailey Patrick.

As for the locals, Wannamoisett member Charlie Blanchard carded a 5-over 74. The two-time State Amateur had two bogeys, two doubles and a birdie at the short par 3 third.

Reigning and four-time State Am winner, Metacomet's Brad Valois, finished Round 1 at 6-over, 75. Valois had seven bogeys to the just one birdie, which also came at the 137-yard third.

City native and former East Providence High standout Dan Blessing shot 8-over, 77 to open the tournament. Blessing, like Blanchard and Valois, made a birdie at three but had three doubles and two other bogeys.

Bobby Leopold, another of the former State Am champs in the field and now a Wannamoisett member, faltered late in his opening round to finish at 8-over, 77 as well. His lone birdie of the day came on the par 3, 196-yard 15th.

Among the other notables in the field, Will Murphy, the winner of the Sunnehanna Invitational last week in Pennsylvania, finished in a large group at 3-over, 72, which also included Newport's John Hayes IV.

The highest-rated player in the field according to GolfWeek magazine's world amateur rankings, Jordan Niebrugge of Oklahoma State, finished four shots off the pace. Ranked third, the Wisconsin native shot 2-over, 71.

Reigning U.S. Amateur champion Mike McCoy, another of the top-ranked players in the field (No. 4/GolfWeek) was in a sizable group of players to finish at 5-over, including Blanchard.


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A lifelong Portsmouth resident, Jim graduated from Portsmouth High School in 1982 and earned a journalism degree from the University of Rhode Island in 1986. He's worked two different stints at East Bay Newspapers, for a total of 18 years with the company so far. When not running all over town bringing you the news from Portsmouth, Jim listens to lots and lots and lots of music, watches obscure silent films from the '20s and usually has three books going at once. He also loves to cook crazy New Orleans dishes for his wife of 25 years, Michelle, and their two sons, Jake and Max.