Four teams share USGA State Team First Round Lead
John Flaherty on the 18th hole at Country Club of Birmingham <br>(USGA Photo)
John Flaherty on the 18th hole at Country Club of Birmingham
(USGA Photo)

BIRMINGHAM, AL (September 28, 2016) -- After the first day of the USGA State Men's Team Championship four teams, including defending champion Texas are tied for the lead at 2-under. Joining the Lone Star State atop the leaderboard at the Country Club of Birmingham are Missouri, Connecticut and Ohio.

Texas, the only under-par team in the afternoon wave, was paced on day one by Joshua Irving's 3-under 68 and 2014 returnee Zach Atkinson's 1-over 72. Irving, who won the Texas Mid-Amateur last weekend, carded six birdies, a bogey and a double-bogey during his round. On a day when Irving celebrated his 30th birthday he caught fire on holes 10-12 with three consecutive birdies.

“It was a really special day. It kind of hit me last night during the [flag procession] ceremony how special of an occasion this was. It was the most pressure I’ve felt in a golf round in my amateur career,” said Irving. “[The birdie putt on No. 2] went in and everyone cheered and I raised the putter and it just got me into the zone of really competing.”

For Missouri it was the scores of Richard Berkmeyer and Brad Nurski that counted toward the team score. George C. Thomas Invitational, a sixth place finisher at the 2016 George C. Thomas Invitational, led the team with a 2-under 69 that included four birdies and two bogeys. Nurski carded an even-par 71.

The Nutmeg State received an under-par round from Geoff Vartelas as he tallied a bogey-free 3-under 68. Vartelas birdied back-to-back holes on Nos. 12 and 13. John Flaherty shot a 1-over 72 to card the second Connecticut score of the day.

“I just played really solid today. I hit a lot of greens, just played a lot of really good iron shots, and kind of got lucky. I put it in the right spots on the greens out here. There’s a lot of undulation [on the greens] and you’ve got to put it in the right position to give yourself a good look, and I managed to do that pretty well today,” Vartelas said.

Ohio was paced by 2013 U.S. Mid-Amateur runner-up Bill Williamson's five birdie, three bogey 2-under 69 while Jeffrey Scohy shot an even-par 71.

Williamson was able to dig deep into his memory bank and use the experience gained at the 2013 U.S. Mid-Amateur also held at Country Club of Birmingham, "I’ve got a good golfing memory. I remember everywhere I hit it in every match. Just being comfortable on the property helps,” said Williamson. “I hit it close a lot, which is good. That [birdie putt on No. 18] from maybe 15 feet was the longest putt I made.”

In fifth after the first round even-par 71 it is the talented Pennsylvania team made up of Chip Lutz (74), Christopher Crawford (69) and Nathan Smith (73).

A total of seven states are within four-strokes of the lead.

-The USGA contributed to this story

Results: USGA Men's State Team
T1MITom WerkmeisterGrand Rapids, MI50071-70-67=208
T1DEJay WhitbyWyoming, DE50069-73-66=208
3KYJustin TereshkoLexington, KY30071-68-70=209
4AZKen TanigawaParadise Valley, AZ30071-70-69=210
5PAChristopher CrawfordBensalem, PA30069-70-74=213

View full results for USGA Men's State Team

ABOUT THE USGA Men's State Team

The USGA State Team Championships grew out of the Association's Centennial Celebration in 1995, and have been held on an every-other- year basis since. 52 men’s teams (including teams from Puerto Rico and the District of Columbia) compete for the trophy named in honor of former USGA President James Hand. Fifty women’s teams compete for the trophy named for past USGA President Judy Bell.

State golf associations select three of their top non-college amateurs to represent them in this biennial team championship. The top two scores of the three players count toward the team total for each of the three days.

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