Killington, VT (July 17 2013) -- Evan Russell (CC of Vermont – VT) made bogey on his final two holes on Wednesday, but he still managed to post a day-low score of 5-under par 66 and grab the lead by two strokes at the 2013 New England Amateur Championship, which is being held at Green Mountain National Golf Course. He stands atop the leaderboard with a two-round score of 8-under par 134.
“I have played here a bunch,” said Russell, who has carded 10 birdies and two bogies through two rounds. “Our State Amateur was here and I played in the AJGA events so I have played some tournament golf here. I also have had a lot of casual rounds, so I know the course and it’s nice to have it firm. It’s playing shorter which is good because I don’t have to hit my driver.”
It has indeed been a welcome homecoming for Russell, who plays out of the Country Club of Vermont and lives just one hour away from the course.
With dense trees lining nearly every hole at Green Mountain National Golf Course, which was carved out of the Green Mountains, accuracy off the tee is a necessity in order to post low scores this week. Russell arrived in Killington with the right game as he estimates that he hit 33 greens during his first 36 holes.
“The key is definitely to keep it out of the woods and then go from there,” said Russell, who posted a bogey-less 3-under par 68 round on Tuesday. “I have been able to hit a lot of greens, which has helped and my putting felt great. I struggled with reading the greens, but if I read it well then I will put a good stroke on it and it will probably go in.”
On this day, Russell used a hot putter to complement an accurate game off the tee. He began his second round by making three birdies – on the 1st, 3rd and 7th holes – to make the turn at 3-under par.
Surprisingly, it was the back nine where Russell was most impressive.
On the 385-yard, par 4 11th hole, he sent his approach to nine feet and made a tricky putt that would have most likely slid off the green had it not gone into the hole. On the 356-yard, par 4 14th hole, he sank a 20-foot birdie putt and then following that up by making an up-and-down from behind the green on the 15th hole for birdie.
“I hit hybrid off the tee and tried to play it short and then tried to play a big cut around the trees,” said Russell about his strategy on the double dogleg 466-yard, par 5 15th hole. “At the last second I clubbed up and ended going over the green. But then I had a really good up and down.”
On the 374-yard, par 4 16th hole, Russell read a double break and drained a 12-foot birdie putt. He was 7-under par for day through 16 holes.
The course that he loves came back to bite him on the final two holes as Russell ran into trouble and made bogey on the 17th and 18th holes. Although it was not the finish he envisioned, Russell was still happy with his overall play.
“I was hitting greens the first two rounds, so I had a lot of putts and finally some fell for me,” said Russell. “They key here is to keep hitting it in the fairway. That is definitely the biggest part. I had to chip out on 18. If you miss the fairways, you will be chipping out. If I hit the fairways, I will probably be all right.”
Russell – the 2010 Vermont State Individual Championship – is coming off a superb freshman season at the University of Hartford where he was named to the Division I PING All-Northeast Region by the Golf Coaches' Association of America. Russell was one of 155 players from six regions across the country to receive that honor. He was one of 25 players to represent the Northeast region.