CARMEL, Calif. (October 22, 2009) - Duluth, Georgia's Greg Kennedy has a one-stroke lead after the first round of the Stocker Cup at the Preserve GC.
On a day of benign weather that would seem to favor low scoring, only seven players posted red numbers with only three in the 60s - testament to the difficulty of the 7,067-yard course.
The 41-year-old Kennedy capitalized on five birdies and one chip-in eagle on the 17th hole to overcome two opening bogeys in posting his four-under-par 68. “I didn’t hit bad shots (at the beginning of the round), it just didn’t work out,” the 2009 Birmingham National Invitational champion said. “This is one of the top courses I’ve played.”
One stroke back are two players with deep championship pedigree: two-time Stocker Cup champion Craig Doell of Victoria, British Columbia and four-time and current Northern California Golf Association Player of the Year Randy Haag. “You’ve got to be patient here and play within yourself,” Doell said. “Hopefully your short game will hold up.” The left-handed Doell won the ’04 and ’07 Cups.
Haag, of Burlingame, CA, had perhaps the hottest start of the day, making five birdies on his opening nine. But a double bogey on the first hole, Haag’s ninth, brought him back to the field. The Olympic Club member won the NCGA Master Division title earlier in 2009.
Four other players are within four shots of the lead.
In the battle for the Elliott Cup, a 54-hole best-ball team competition that pits one of the scratch A-players with a B-player competing at their assigned handicap from the gold tees, “B” player Dan Kreer of fired a 62 with partner Jason Pridmore to lead by two shots over three other duos. In a change from years past, players will change partners throughout the three-day competition, with awards for the best “A team player and “B” player to be given Saturday night.
Last year’s champion Andy Sanders of Incline Village posted a 79 and will have some work to do defend his title. After Saturday’s third round, the field will be cut to the players with the low 20 scores and ties. Starting times begin at 9:00 a.m.
•Carmel’s Jerry Ledzinski attributed his opening-round 70 to a session in the Titleist custom fitting trailer present during Wednesday’s practice round. “I put three new clubs into play today,” the 36-year-old said. “And it really paid off.”
•First-round leader Greg Kennedy is playing in his first Stocker Cup, one of several first-time players.
ABOUT THE STOCKER CUP:
The Stocker Cup, played in memory of Peter Stocker, is held each October at The Preserve Golf Club in Carmel. The field is comprised of 52 world-class mid-amateur invitees, who meet stringent eligibility requirements, and pay a minimal fee for their participation.
The Stocker Cup is a Golfweek/amateurgolf.com World Rankings points event. In addition to the A players who are invited based on their playing accomplishments, the Stocker Cup also holds a one-day qualifying tournament for players not receiving invitations. On September 29, over thirty competitors with a handicap index of 3.4 or lower vied for the final four A-list spots at CordeValle Golf Club in San Martin, CA. Tanner Makimoto of Roseville, CA posted a 1-under 71 to take home medalist honors and qualify for his second national tournament of the year (he played in the USGA Amateur at Southern Hills in August).
Those final A-list golfers are complimented by a matching number of qualified B-list competitors, with invitations extended to friends, relatives and associates of the late Peter Stocker, as well as to various sponsors and other supporters of the event. Every A-player is teamed with a B-player in a handicapped best-ball competition held simultaneously with the individual stroke-championship.