FALMOUTH, ME (July 18, 2012) -- While most of the field kept the driver in the bag this week at Falmouth Country Club, Christopher Swift (Great River GC – CT) is pulling out his favorite club as much as possible at the 2012 New England Amateur Championship.
That decision is paying off in spades thus far as the 20-year-old Swift finds himself with a one-stroke lead over the field following the first two rounds of play. Swift posted a two-round total of 5-under par 137 and stands one ahead of Casey Komline (Dorset Field Club – VT).
Swift and Komline – as well as the low 42 scorers – will return to Falmouth on Thursday to compete in 36 holes at stroke play to determine the 2012 champion.
“I shot 2 under today and 3 under yesterday and put myself into a good spot going into the 36 holes today tomorrow,” said Swift, who is playing in this event for the first time. “If I can shoot 4 under tomorrow, I think that I can be close tothe lead.”
It is no wonder that the rising sophomore from Marquette University is playing with confidence considering that he is hitting his driver long and straight on what is considered a very penal layout.
“I am putting the ball in the fairway this week,” said Swift, who advanced to the quarterfinals of the 2012 Connecticut State Amateur Championship. “Some of the holes are pretty tight out here. If you don’t put the ball in play, you can’t hit the greens. The pins were tricky out there today, so I was just leaving myself in good spots.”
Swift stayed true to his game plan from the start and – after making six straight pars to start his round – he exploded for a birdie and an eagle to make the turn at 3-under par 32.
On the 400-yard, par 4 7th hole, Swift hit a huge drive and lofted an easy wedge to four feet. On the next hole – the 510-yard, par 5 8th hole – Swift hit another perfect drive that left him with 215 yards to the hole. He then sent his 4-iron approach to 15 feet and he drained the putt.
“I am hitting the ball straight,” said Swift. “Whenever I am hitting it as well as I am right now, I am going to pull out driver and be aggressive.”
With the temperatures rising and the wind picking up, Swift held it together by making one birdie and two bogies to post his 2-under par 69.
Right behind Swift is Komline, who posted a 4-under par 67, which was the low round of the day. The rising junior at Appalachian State University finished with five birdies and one bogey.
One week ago, Komline finished third at the Vermont Amateur Championship and before that he finished off a strong sophomore season with the Mountaineers where he ranked second on the team with a 72.0 stroke average in nine rounds.
Sitting in third place with a two-round score of 2-under par 140 is Colin Brennan (Indian Ridge CC – MA).
It has already been an outstanding summer for Brennan, who is a senior at Johnson & Wales University (FL). In May, Brennan battled a tough New England field and windy and rainy conditions to capture the Hornblower Memorial Invitational title at Plymouth Country Club. Just last week he advanced to the quarterfinals of the 2012 Massachusetts Amateur Championship.
On this day, Brennan took advantage of favorable morning conditions and was 3-under par 32 through 9 holes thanks to birdies made on the 1st, 5th and 9th holes.
“Our first five holes this morning there was no wind and it was pretty cool out,” said Brennan. “The first five seemed really easy and then from there wind kicked up a little bit. The greens were really soft, so even if you had a 6 or 7 iron in your hand you could still fire away.”
Brennan continued to shoot at the flagsticks and was able to card one more birdie – on the 13th hole – before suffering back-to-back bogies on the 17th and 18th holes. Despite the rocky finish, Brennan still finds himself in prime position heading into the final 36 holes.
“Knowing that there are four rounds made it easier today,” said Brennan. “If there was three rounds you are thinking that you have to go mid 60s, but today I was just worried about getting something in the 60s and then hopefully another one tomorrow.”
The only other competitor in the field to shoot under par through the first two rounds was Herbie Aikens (Pinehills GC – MA), who posted a 1-under par 141.
A familiar face is back in the field this year and is looking sharp. John Curley (Hyannis GC - MA), champion of this event in 1996, is returning to this championship after being reinstated as an amateur just months ago.
Curley was one of only 10 competitors who were able to post an under-par score on day two. Curley followed up his 1-over par 72 on Tuesday with a solid 1-under par 70 on Wednesday.
In addition to Curley, three other past champions made the cut this year. Included in the list were Brian Higgins (Franklin CC - MA), Brad Valois (Metacomet CC - RI) and Craig Steckowych (Portsmouth CC - NH).