EUGENE, Oregon (July 28, 2010) -- For the Putnam family, they're hoping its deja vu all over again. The last time the Pacific Coast Amateur was contested at Eugene Country club in 2004, Michael Putnam shot 7-under par 67-70-67-73--277 to take the title. This year, Andrew Putnam has a shot at having his name join his older brother's on the perpetual trophy after shooting 5-under par 68-69--137 to take the 36-hole lead.
Putnam wasn't sure the day would end up as it did after a bogey on his opening hole. "The course was playing harder and faster today, and I realized that quickly on the first hole when my shot with my lob-wedge bounced well past the hole," he said.
He birdied the 408-yard 4th hole to bring his score for the day back to even, just in time to square off against the signature par-3 5th hole which turned out to be the pivotal hole this day. The hole was stretched from 197-yards to 233-yards, over water to a hole location tucked five paces from the right edge of the green. With only 3 birdies and 35 pars from the elite 84-player field, it turned out to be the most difficult hole of the day with an average score of 3.771.
"The decision was made by the Pacific Coast (PCGA) and Oregon Golf Association (OGA) staffs regarding hole locations for the championship, and we felt we needed to change up the course to help identify the best player," noted PCGA Executive Director John Bodenhamer. "This setup will do just that. It's a fair but challenging setup for these great players that come from all over the world to play."
"You just take a 3-iron and hit it as hard as you can," joked Putnam who luckily saw his ball barely clear the water. He parred the hole both days.
"This is one of the best par-3 courses in the country," Putnam added. "How you play the par 3's, especially on the front nine will determine whether you'll have a shot at winning." After the first two rounds, the three par-3's on the front nine rank as the 1st, 3rd and 4th most difficult on the course.
"There's more scoring opportunities on the back-nine," said Charlie Hughes of Burnaby, British Columbia, who finished the day 2-stroke off the lead in second place.
Hughes, who just completed his freshman season at the University of Washington, went on a tear with birdies on 5 of the last 7 holes on the back nine, his opening nine of the second round. "I really had it going," he said. "I just wish I could have kept it going. I made some unforced errors, but at least I'm in it."
The format for this championship is 72-holes of individual stroke play with no cut, but the event also features a team component, with three-man teams representing the 16 state and regional associations that make up the Pacific Coast Golf Association competing for the Morse Cup trophy. The champion is determined after the first 36 holes, with each team's best two scores each day counting toward the team score.
The Washington State Golf Association team has won the last two years and with Michael Putnam won the team competition in 2004. Same family. Different Team. Same Result. This year, Andrew Putnam led his Pacific Northwest Golf Association team to the Morse Cup title along with Cameron Peck of Olympia, Wash. and Derek Berg of Kenmore, Wash. The team from Oregon took second place.
The third round of the championship begins at 7:30am off 1 & 10 with the leaders teeing off last on the first hole. Spectators are welcome.