John Hayes IV takes Rhode Island Amateur first day lead
NARRAGANSETT, RI (June 27, 2016) -- Ninety minutes before the first ball was struck in the 111th Rhode Island Golf Association Amateur Championship on Monday, Bob Ward, the association’s executive director, received an indication of what was in store. But even he did not know quite how difficult the day would be.

The opening round of the Amateur at Point Judith produced some of the highest scoring ever in tournament history. No one broke par. Newport’s John Hayes IV earned the lead by matching par-71 over the 6,691-yard layout. Cameron Andrade, the son of PGA Champions Tour star Billy Andrade, was second a 2-over 73 despite a double bogey six on the 440-yard 17th.

Some of the scores were hard to believe. Defending champion Kevin Silva had 81. Four-time winner Brad Valois also had 81, including a nine on the par-5 closing hole. Only 38 of the 116 starters broke 80. Every hole on the course played over par, led by the 365-yard second hole, which was almost a full stroke over par. Players averaged 4.95.

Ward received an indication of what was in store shortly after he arrived at the course at 6 a.m., 90 minutes before the start of play.

"I was putting up our RIGA flag and I heard the workers who were setting up the outside tables talking, saying, the wind never blows like this early in the morning," Ward related. Wind always is a factor at the course off Ocean Drive and less than a half mile from the ocean. On this day, it was not the late starts who had to deal with it. Everyone did.

"It’s brutally tough,’’ said Hall of Famer George Pirie, who put himself in good position with a 74. The doctor went out of his way to say it was tough, but fair.

"I spent some time (Sunday) with Eddie Mauro (the former State Amateur champion and RIGA Hall of Famer and one of the patriarchs at Point Judith)," Pirie said. "Eddie was telling me they want to make this the best course in the state. "You know what, he might have done it. It’s really a great course now,’’ Pirie said.

For years, Point Judith had drainage problems that affected play. The club conducted a major renovation program that raised fairways and improved drainage just over a decade ago and cured those issues. It has continued to make changes under superintendent Brett Johnson to the point where it is almost a different course, a better course.

"I love it,’’ said Silva, the defending champion. "I could play here every day.’’ Silva’s 81 included four double bogeys, but he blamed himself, not the course.

"It’s tough but it’s fair. If you leave it in the right places you’re fine,’’ he said. "If you don’t, you pay.’’

Veteran Rob Grossguth has played everywhere. "These greens are the fastest I’ve ever played," he said. "I thought Metacomet was fast last year. These are faster."

Hayes, the 2013 Stroke Play Champion. Had two birdies and two bogies, but even he had a story about how quick the greens were. He hit his approach on the second within 12 feet. His putt took a turn down the bank right in front on the pin and ended on the fringe, about twice as far as where he putted from. He two-putted from there for a bogey.

"I’d worry that they could become unplayable. They’re so fast," Hayes said.

With scores so high, the cut looks as if the cut could be 16 or 17 over. The 32nd score on Monday was 8-over 79.

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