SEA ISLAND, Georgia (Feb 5, 2016) -- Three players at even par have taken a three shot lead at the Jones Cup, as another blustery day made the already-challenging course even more demanding.
Will Grimmer, a U.S. Open Veteran (Pinehurst, 2014 at age 17) who plays for Ohio State, excels in challenging conditions and for the second-straight day posted even-par 72. His card went nearly unblemished -- after opening with a par on the first hole and following with back-to-back birdies on Nos. 2 and 3, Grimmer parred every hole coming in except the par-4 11th, where he took a double bogey.
Blair Hamilton of Canada added a 73 to his first round 71 to stand at 144, where he is joined by a third player, the No. 3 ranked amateur (Golfweek/AmateurGolf.com rankings) Beau Hossler, fresh off a win for Texas at the Arizona Intercollegiate.
First round leader Taylor Funk had trouble matching his first round leading 69 -- his 79 puts him in a tie for 7th at 148 with Chase Koepka and Todd White. White, who competed on the 2013 winning USA Walker Cup team, is the low Mid-Am in the field.
The winner of the Jones Cup gets and exemption into the PGA Tour's RSM Classic for the second straight year. The tournament will be played later this year from Nov. 17-20.
FIRST ROUND STORY
Taylor Funk has taken the first-round lead at the Jones Cup Invitational in Georgia. He was the only player to break 70 as cold and breezy conditions added to the already daunting 7321 yard Ocean Forest Golf Club.
The Texas Longhorn sophomore and son of eight-time PGA Tour winner Fred Funk carded five birdies to go along with two bogeys. He holds a one shot lead over teammate Beau Hossler who is continuing his strong play coming off a win at the Arizona Intercollegiate.
University of Houston's Blair Hamilton and Florida State's Hand Lebioda were the only other players to break par, each opening with 1-under par 71. Todd White is the low Mid-am thus far after a 2-over 74.
The names of those who have played the Jones Cup Invitational reads like a leaderboard on today’s Tour. Jordan Spieth. Bubba Watson. Rickie Fowler. Dustin Johnson. Brandt Snedeker. The list goes on, and it’s quite impressive.
This year, the list of participants is equally impressive. The mostly-collegiate field also includes amateur stalwarts Mike McCoy and Scott Harvey, high school stars Cole Hammer and Philip Barbaree, as well as top international ams like Romain Langasque.
The Jones Cup has been played at Sea Island, Georgia since 2001. The three-day competition will not have a defending champion this year as last year’s winner, Austin Connelly, turned pro with guidance and advise from Jordan Spieth. Here’s a brief look at contenders for the 2016 Cup, held at the 7,321-yard Ocean Forest Golf Club.
University of Texas star junior Beau Hossler is currently the #3-ranked player in the Golfweek/AmateurGolf.com player rankings. He is coming off a win at the Arizona Collegiate, already his second win of the season. Hossler feels at home playing in windy conditions, which is often the case on the Ocean Forrest course at Sea Island.
After finishing T-3 last year at the Jones Cup, Alabama senior Tom Lovelady looks to make a big return. The Birmingham native finished a stroke behind the leaders last year. His teammate Dru Love should feel right at home – it is, after all, where he lives, and he won the Georgia State Am at Sea Island’s Seaside Course last July.
Frenchman Romain Langasque is the #7 ranked player in the Golfweek/AGC rankings and is coming off a strong 2015 where he won the British Am and dominated in the Ten Nations Cup. He would love to get a win on American soil after making it to the final 64 at the US Amateur last season.
Twenty-year old Lipscomb University student Dawson Armstrong of Brentwood, Tennessee is one to watch. Ranked at #15, Armstrong had an impressive 2015 season winning the Western Amateur and the Dogwood Invitational.
There are plenty of other talented players who will surely make a run at this year’s title. Chase Koepka, Taylor Funk, Gavin Hall, Hank Lebioda (finished T-3 last year with Tom Lovelady) and Matt NeSmith, just to name a few.
Play begins Friday with Mid-Am legend Mike McCoy leading the first group off the tee at 9:00 a.m.