Ryan Pelletier leads Rhode Island Mid-Amateur
BARRINGTON, R.I. (Sept. 22, 2014) — The more things change, the more they seem to stay the same for tournament players in the Rhode Island Golf Association.

The final major event of the season, the Mid- Amateur, is a case in point. Change was one of the day’s big topics on Monday because of the site, Rhode Island Country Club, not because of the scoreboard.

The board reflected a typical RIGA event. So many familiar names who are frequent contenders are at it again. Pawtucket’s Ryan Pelletier led the way, using a chip-in eagle on the par-5 11th to boost himself to a 4-under 67 and a two-stroke lead. Playing in the final group in Tuesday’s second round will be familiar territory for Pelletier. He has been in the final group in four of the five RIGA events in which he has competed this year.

Jamie Lukowicz, the longtime West Warwick member who now plays out of Metacomet, was second with a 2- under 69 that included six birdies. Another Metacomet member, George Cidale, is third at 70, followed by senior champion George Pirie at 72.

State Amateur winner Bobby Leopold, 2013 Senior champion Mike Schmidt, the baseball Hall of Famer, and Four-Ball titlist Kyle Hoffman lead a group at 73 that also includes E.J. Wholey and Michael Petrarca.

It was beyond the scoreboard where the subject of change came up.

Rhode Island Country Club long has been one of the state’s most popular clubs. Any event at the bayside course designed by the great Donald Ross draws a big field. That was true this year, more than ever.

The event, for players aged 25 and older, is the first RIGA competition since the course underwent dramatic renovation last year that gave it a very different look.

"They removed 770 trees,’’ pointed out Bob Ward, the RIGA’s executive director. "It’s a very different course now.’’

The course always has had a European feel. The removal of the trees makes that more obvious than ever. Sight lines are now wide open, allowing someone to be on one side of the course and see all the way across to the other side. The wind, always a factor along the water, now is a bigger factor than ever, especially when it is blowing as strongly as it was on Monday.

Figuring out the wind is more difficult than ever.

"I was just over on the other side of the course (behind the clubhouse, away from the water) and I swear the wind was blowing this way,’’ said George Fowler, one of the RIGA officials helping run the event. Fowler pointed straight at the water.

"But you go across the road and the wind is blowing this way,’’ Fowler said, pointing parallel to the water. "It’s not that far away, but it’s blowing in two different directions.’’

The Mid-Am has not needed a qualifier in recent years because the field has not been that large. This year the entries climbed over 130 before RIGA officials realized what was happening, forcing play to be held in foursomes, something the association tries to avoid.

"It’s strictly because of the venue,’’ Ward said. "Everyone wants to play here. We have more players here than we had for the stroke play where high school and college kids are eligible.’’

The three-bridge day (all three of the state’s major bridges are visible from the course on clear days) was difficult from the outset because of the wind that produced white caps on the water. Pirie, coming off a rousing performance in winning the Senior Championship in his last start, looked to be on his way to another lead. But a late double-bogey forced him to settle for a 72. Cidale had five birdies but a bogey on the 18th left him at 70.

Lukowicz had his struggles, too. He doubled the par-3 fifth hole. He hit a nine-iron that he thought was fine, but the ball hopped over the green and led to a five. Lukowicz had birds on 1, 2, 6 and 8 to overcome that.

Pelletier had the best day of all, a 67 that was all the more impressive considering that he was among the late starters.

"I had it going today,’’ he said of his work that included five birdies in addition to his eagle on 11. On 11, he could not get home in two.

"I left myself in good position for an easy chip,’’ he related. "It was nice and straight and went right in.’’

The event is big for a number of players, including Lukowicz. The state’s Tri State team for next month’s matches against Connecticut and Massachusetts will be set after this event. Lukowicz currently is 17th in the standings for the team, which includes 12 players, including four seniors. Pelletier already has clinched a spot on that team, as has Pirie.

It took a score of 81 to advance to Tuesday’s final round.

View results for Rhode Island Mid-Amateur
ABOUT THE Rhode Island Mid-Amateur

Open to male amateur golfers who are members with a RIGA member club, have reached their 25th birthday by the start of the event, and an index no more than 12.0. Format is 36-holes of stroke play with a cut to the low 55 players and ties after the first round. There will also be a senior division for those 55 and older.

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