By Yianni Gogonas for AmateurGolf.com
JOHNSTOWN, PA (JUNE 14, 2017) - In Native American, "Sunnehanna" (SUNNY-HANNAH) means "slow-moving stream." For the top-ranked amateur players in Johnstown, Pennsylvania this weekend, Sunnehanna looks like it is going to mean something very different. Weather reports on Wednesday indicated a high chance of thunderstorms and heavy rainfall for both Thursday and Friday mornings. So in an effort to complete all seventy-two holes of the event, tournament officials decided to play out the entirety of the first and second rounds of the tournament on Wednesday.
"The thinking is the weather for the next two days looks a little iffy," explained Co-Chairman Brian Chirillo to a Tribune Democrat reporter as the first round came to a close. "Last year we only got fifty-four holes in. Our goal is to get seventy-two holes in. We've got a good day, let's play as much golf as we can."
FIRST DAY RECAP VIDEO
Nick Voke of Iowa State University and Jacob Solomon of Auburn carded the low scores of the first round topping the leaderboards at 5-under-par. Shintaro Ban finished the morning one back of them, shooting a 66. Ban followed up, firing a 65 in the afternoon and securing what will likely be the lead going into Friday morning, when the third round is hoped to resume on normal schedule.
"I was just really glad I had a caddy," Ban joked after his round.
When asked how he kept his momentum in the second round of the day, Ban explained, "Same game plan as this morning...I think I hit more greens [in the afternoon] and I think that helped me get down some speed with the putting."
Voke, a New Zealand native who in May won the NCAA South Central Regional, would follow up his brilliant morning by shooting an even-par 70 in the afternoon.
"It was an absolute grind out there today. In the morning I was firing on all cylinders. The last eighteen holes, right from the get-go, were just an uphill battle," explained Voke of his rounds on Friday.
In reference to the changes in course conditions coming into the weekend Voke added, "It's going to be a lot softer obviously, I don't think necessarily into the greens, I think it will be off the tee...It'll be more of a birdie fix I feel like."
Don't be surprised to see some pin-seeking from the field as the course begins to soften and slow-down.
A few players, including one of our morning's leaders, Jacob Solomon, were not able to finish their second rounds due to darkness. Lloyd Jefferson Go of Seton Hall and the Big East's 2016 player of the year, used what short time he had in the afternoon to make a big move. He has managed to move himself to 6-under, and a share of second place by increasing his pace from a walk to a sprint, shooting a 5-under-par, 30 on the front nine of his afternoon round, which would be his last holes of the day. Last year's winner, Collin Morikawa and Dawson Armstrong of Brentwood, Tennessee are also tied for second place with Go.
Braden Thornberry is in the field this week, coming off of a T-4 finish in his first PGA tour start at last week's St. Jude Classic in Memphis. Shooting 68 in the morning round, Thornberry seemed unaffected by the change of plan.
“I felt good so I don’t mind it at all,” Thornberry said.
“If you’re struggling a little bit, you might not like it. But if you’re hitting it good, putting it good, the more you can play in one day, the better.”
He finished his extremely steady Wednesday with a 1-under-par 69 in his second round. At 3-under-par, a very confident-sounding Thornberry is a player to watch out for as the conditions soften.
Holding the top spot in the Golfweek/AmateurGolf.com Amateur Rankings, some would have hoped to see more from Dylan Meyer who finished his day at 5-over-par. "If you are playing well on this type of golf course you are going to score well but if your not, it is going to expose your weaknesses like it did me today." Meyer will need quite a streak of brilliance if he wants to leave Pennsylvania a winner this weekend.
AmateurGolf.com is staying on site to provide more video coverage, player interviews, and more as "One Epic Summer" presented by Callaway Golf continues.
ABOUT THE Sunnehanna Amateur
The Sunnehanna Amateur was inaugurated in
1954 -- it was the first country club
sponsored 72-hole stroke play competition for
in the United States. The
tournament is played on a classic A.W.
design. Only one other amateur
tournament in the United States can list the
Chick Evans, Arnold Palmer, Julius
Boros, Art Wall, Jack Nicklaus, Phil Mickelson,
Woods, and Rickie Fowler as
contestants: the United States Amateur. Its
format has been emulated by
countless amateur tournaments across the
View Complete Tournament Information