Mass. Mid-Am: Stewart leads at home track
Marshfield, MA — With the temperatures feeling fall-like and the wind gusting all day at Marshfield Country Club, Jeffrey Stewart (Marshfield CC) used his home-course knowledge to post a 1-under par 69 to hold a one-stroke lead heading into the second round of the 2013 Massachusetts Mid-Amateur Championship.

It marks a special time for Stewart, who is looking to capture his first MGA Championship title following a golf career that has spanned decades and includes a professional career that ended more than 10 years ago.

“It would be more special to do well on my home course,” said Stewart, who turned 51 years old in March. “I don’t play in a ton of MGA events, so it would be good to break in and have a top finish here. I played professionally a long time ago… and I haven’t been able to play as much competitively [since being reinstated as an amateur], so it would be good to gain some confidence.”

Stewart showed his poise under conditions that rattled many of the competitors in field. After making bogey on his first hole of the day – the 405-yard, par 4 10th hole – he made the turn at 2-over par 37.

“The wind kind of helped me a little bit mentally,” said Stewart. “I didn’t get too excited that I was making a couple of bogies early.”

With wind gusts up to 15 miles per hour, Stewart made his run on the front nine of the course where he drained a 35 foot putt on the 327-yard, par 4 1st hole.

“The putt was from the middle of the green to the back and it was up and over the hill,” explained Stewart. “It got me going a little bit.”

Stewart fired his approach on the next hole right at the flagstick but it came up short. He was able to get up and down and make a solid 6-foot par putt before just missing a 12-foot birdie attempt on the 344-yard, par 4 3rd hole.

His only stumble on that front nine came on the 554-yard, par 5 hole where he pulled his drive left and missed the out of bounds stakes by inches. After confirming the placement of his ball with an MGA Rules Official, Stewart cleaned up his bogey and then went on a tear that would separate him from most of the field.

He first – on the 193-yard, par 3 6th hole – hit a 6-iron tee shot to six feet for birdie and then “wedged” one to four feet below the hole on the 304-yard, par 4 7th hole. He took advantage of the shortened 8th hole for what was his third consecutive birdie.

“I got it across the corner and out there pretty good through the fairway and into the rough,” said Stewart of the 433-yard, par 4 8th hole which was playing downwind. “I hit my wedge shot from 135 yards over the flag to about 10 feet behind the hole and tried it get it online and it went right in the middle.”

Stewart capped off his unmatched front-nine with a par on the 9th hole to post a 1-under par 69.

“You need to hit the shots obviously, but on the tee shots it helps and on the greens,” said Stewart about his home-course knowledge. “I felt comfortable with the driver and especially comfortable on the greens. The speed is a little bit faster than they have been in recent weeks but it’s probably the speed we are kind of used to here at the club. I have a lot of memories of hitting putts across these greens.”

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