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Rhode Island Stroke Play: Ryan Pelletier leads
PAWTUCKET, R.I. (July 29, 2014) -- Ryan Pelletier is always happy to spend a day at Pawtucket Country Club, never more than on Monday for the 31st R.I. Golf Association Stroke Play Championship.

Pelletier continued the strong play he has displayed much of the summer, recording a 3-under 66 to take the first-day lead in the 54-hole tournament. Playing on his home course, Pelletier had three deuces (on 5, 13 and 15) on the way to recording five birdies against two bogeys.

Pelletier, who combined with Kyle Hoffman to win the RIGA Four-Ball Championship earlier this summer, competed in the New England Amateur Championship last week.

"The greens there were incredible. They had them rolling so fast. They had to be like 13 (on the STIMP meter),’’ he said of the conditions at Winchester, Mass., Country Club. Pelletier played solidly, tying for 24th, but was more than happy to return to his home course for the stroke play.

"Here they’re perfect. They’re just the right speed. The whole course is perfect,’’ he said of the conditions provided by superintendent Mike Whitehead.

Conditions were so good--there was virtually no wind on a perfect weather day-- that Pelletier was not alone in posting strong numbers.

Six players broke par and 21 are within four strokes of the lead. It took a score of 74 to qualify for Wednesday’s 36-hole finale. State Amateur champion Bobby Leopold continued the stellar play he has displayed all summer, posting a 2-under 67 that included three birds, one on the final hole. Former Four-Ball champion George Cidale tied Leopold for second as he, too, birdied the last for his 67.

The group at 1-under 68 included Brendan Lemp of Misquamicut, Jamie Griffiths of Wannamoisett and Eric Ahlborg of Warwick. Lemp went out in 3-under 32 on the way to his 68, Griffiths had four birds on the day and Ahlborg finished strongly with six pars and two birds in his last eight.

There actually was one other player under par, Dan Boutelle of the home club, but he did not get credit for it. Boutelle shot a 68. But he signed his scorecard for a 69. He birdied the par-3 13th, but signed his car showing a par on that hole.

The good news for Boutelle is that he can continue playing despite signing an incorrect card. The rules say a player who signs for a score lower than he actually recorded is disqualified. A player who signs for a score higher than he shot can continue but must take the higher score.

In addition to Boutelle, the group at 69 included seven-time player-of-the-year Charlie Blanchard. Those at 70 included four-time State Amateur champion Brad Valois. Valois already has had a big week. On Monday, he qualified for the U.S. Mid-Amateur Championship by shooting a 2-under 70 at The Ranch in Western Massachusetts. Valois eagled the par-5 first hole and played even from there. The other qualifiers included former URI player John Kelly, who earlier this month won the Mass Am Championship. Two other Rhode Islanders, Leopold and Blanchard, shot 72 and missed getting into a playoff for the last of the four available spots by one stroke.

-story courtesy of Rhode Island G.A.

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