NIAGARA FALLS, New York (July 28, 2010) -- Luke Bleumink weathered the wind and beat the rain to take a one-shot lead on the opening day of the 52nd Porter Cup at Niagara Falls Country Club.
Bleumink, 25, an Australian playing here for the third year in a row, shot a 6-under-par 64 on Wednesday highlighted by an eagle on the third hole.
“He hit it from about what he calls 50 meters, so 61 yards, it took two hops and it went right in the hole,” said Bleumink’s caddy, Eric Matthews, an NFCC member and co-owner of the Brickyard Pub & BBQ in Lewiston.
“It was a bit funny because I was doing a bit of work from that exact same distance yesterday,” Bleumink said. “It got the momentum rolling.”
Bleumink carried the momentum into the final stretch of his round, posting birdies on the last two holes. He rolled in a 60-footer on notorious No. 17, getting a good read from Matthews, who missed a similar putt when the two played together on Saturday, then hit a 7-iron within five feet of the pin on 18 for a birdie putt that put him atop the leaderboard.
Russell Henley, the NCAA player of the year who finished tied for 16th at last month’s U.S. Open, and David Chung, an All-American at Stanford University, both shot 65, while Nathan Smith, a 31-year-old mid-amateur, posted a 66.
“It’s great to have a start like this and somewhat put yourself in contention,” said Smith, who finished in the top five at the 2005 Porter Cup and was tied for 13th last year. “But I know I need three more of them.”
Smith and Chung both missed birdie putts by inches on 18. Chung’s putt was from 40 feet out. He also rimmed out an eagle putt on 11.
Henley, who birdied the last hole, left putts short on 16 and 17.
“I feel like I left something out there,” the University of Georgia senior said. “If I keep giving myself chances, I should make the putts.”
Bleumink also barely missed a couple more birdies, but as he told Matthews, you can’t complain when you’re chipping in from 61-yards out and sinking 60-foot putts.
The majority of the field finished before play was suspended just before 4 p.m. due to a lightning threat that preceded a downpour.
Of the 24 players who didn’t complete their rounds, only Tim Hume, Sebastian Maclean and Harry Rudolph III were under par at the turn. All three shot 1-under 34s on the front side.
Before the rain came, players had to deal with gusts coming off the escarpment. “The wind was swirling out there on the back nine,” Chung said. “It was so gusty that the ball would be oscillating a little bit on the greens.” “We fought hard out there,” Smith said. “It wasn’t easy with the wind.”
“It was really gusting,” Bleumink said. “This is pretty standard for home, actually, so I think it gives the Aussies a bit of an advantage.”