First round co-leader Billy Walthouse
WEST NEWTON, MA (July 26, 2017) - Some might consider it fatigue, but Billy Walthouse (Longmeadow CC) prefers to call it momentum.
The 22 year old from Longmeadow, who is coming off a 17-day stretch where he has played 208 holes of competitive golf, fired a day-low score of 5-under par 67 on Wednesday at Brae Burn Country Club and currently holds a share of the lead at the 50th Francis Ouimet Memorial Tournament.
Only Charlie May (Ferncroft CC) was able to match that score on day one of the three-day tournament which will continue on Thursday at The Country Club and conclude on Friday at Woodland Golf Club.
“I am definitely a little tired, but I am in a good rhythm right now and everything seems to be dropping right now which is nice,” said Walthouse. “I have a good little run going. I want to keep it going.”
The recent run all started on July 10 when Walthouse began his pursuit of the Massachusetts Amateur Championship title. He played 100 holes over four days en route to a semifinal finish. The following week he logged 72 holes for a T2 finish at the New England Amateur Championship.
And just two days prior to this week’s Ouimet Memorial Tournament, Walthouse played 36 holes over two days [instead of one because of inclement weather] at a U.S. Amateur Sectional Qualifier held at Crestview Country Club.
“It was nice because I got off to a good start the first day and [Crestview CC] was close to my house,” said Walthouse, who finished as medalist to earn a trip to the 2017 U.S. Amateur Championship to be held next month at Riviera Country Club in Pacific Palisades, California. “I was able to go home and come back and play very steady yesterday. Qualifying also gave me a lot of momentum going into today.”
Despite never playing Brae Burn Country Club before, Walthouse continued his incredible play by making eagle on the 320-yard, par 4 1st hole. He holed out from 93 yards out.
“That was a good way to start," said Walthouse.
He made the turn at 1-under par 34 and then went on a run where he played 4-under par golf through his final nine holes. A highlight came on the 478-yard, par 4 13th hole where he made a 45-foot putt for eagle.
“I had a couple more birdies coming in,” said Walthouse. “I was very steady and my putting is stellar. All of the hard work has been paying off.”
An exceptional player for many years, Walthouse, a University of Rhode Island graduate who finished T-11 at the Atlantic 10 Championships this past spring and was a member of the conference All-Academic Team, has had a summer to remember as he eyes a professional career following this summer.
A turning point came back in May when Walthouse participated in the 2017 U.S. Amateur Four-Ball Championship with Matt Naumec (GreatHorse). The duo did not capture the title that week, but something important clicked for Walthouse.
“I look back on the USGA Four-Ball and that last match,” said Walthouse. “Even though we lost I played really well and after that I found something and have been able to practice a lot and am in a rhythm which is nice right now.”
Walthouse will take on yet another course he has never laid eyes on tomorrow in The Country Club. Walthouse will be relying on his memory of walking the course four years ago when he was an on-site alternate at the 2013 U.S. Amateur Championship.
MAY'S BIRDIE SPREE CONTINUES
Keeping pace with Walthouse on Wednesday was May, who is also enjoying a long but successful stretch of golf in July.
On Tuesday, May finished as second alternate – following a playoff against Mark Turner (Bass Rocks GC) – at a U.S. Amateur Sectional Qualifier held at Andover Country Cub.
Following a slow start on the front nine at Brae Burn Country Club where he made two bogies and seven pars, May exploded on the back nine where he was 7-under par through six holes. He made five straight birdies and then an eagle on the 304-yard, par 4 15th hole.
“Thirty on the back nine was really good,” said May. “Seven-under in my first six holes on the back nine. I’ve never had something happen like that. I played well yesterday in the second round of the U.S. Amateur qualifier, which gave me a lot of confidence that I needed today.”
After posting a 2-over par 74 during his morning round at Andover Country Club on Tuesday, May fired a 7-under par 65 in the afternoon to help secure his alternate status. He made nine birdies during that stretch and has – over his last 36 holes – carded 14 birdies and one eagle.
“I definitely learned something on that back nine [at Andover],” said May. “Just posting a low number like that on the back gave me the confidence that I could do it again. I’m really just speechless.”
Although just 22 years old, this year marks May’s fifth appearance at the Ouimet Memorial Tournament, which holds more significance to him than most.
“It means a lot to me,” said May. “I’m a Ouimet Scholar myself so the scholarship funds helped me through college for a couple years. This is my fifth year now playing in it I believe. It is always a great tournament. The host sites are always so accommodating to us and the golf courses themselves are great.”
And his thoughts on playing the West Newton layout for the first time?
“I loved it,” said May. “It was definitely different in the sense that there are shorter par 4’s. I decided to be more conservative since I hadn’t seen the golf course so I laid back with irons or hybrids because I didn’t know what was up there.”
May will have a much better sense for the next two layouts he is to encounter on Thursday (The Country Club) and Friday (Woodland Golf Club). May’s grandfather is a former member of The Country Club, while Woodland has been a final stop for the Ouimet Memorial Tournament for May for the past several years.
“I’m definitely confident [knowing I’m familiar with both The Country Club and Woodland],” said May. “It’s a lot of fun. It’s a treat to be able to play courses like that, especially in the 50th anniversary of the tournament. It’s great.”
DEFENDING CHAMPION WALKER STAYS THE COURSE
When Joe Walker (Dennis Pines GC) found out that he had posted the lowest Lowery Division score of the day – a 1-under par 71 – he was somewhat amazed as he quickly noted how strong and level the playing field was.
To Walker’s point, the top five scorers on day one were separated by just three strokes.
“For the most part at this level, you aren’t going to see a guy go out and make six or seven birdies like the kids can do,” said Walker. “We are a little more conservative on how we play, and generally it is hard to make a lot of birdies if you aren’t on par 5s in 2 and not hitting a lob wedge into the par 4s.”
On this day, Walker managed to card four birdies – two on each nine – and just one bogey and a double bogey to finish as the only Lowery Division competitor under par for the day.
“I keep it front of me,” said Walker. “I made a double on 8 when I hit it short of the green. I chipped it over the green and made a sloppy double there. Other than that, I kept it front of me and made good decisions. I know my yardages and picked the right clubs and stayed out of trouble.”
One shot back of Walker at even par is Jim DiBiase (Woodland GC), who was 2-under par through 15 holes before carding bogey on the 16th and 18th holes.
Paul Nunez (Ludlow CC) and Kevin Carey (Dennis Pines GC) are two back at 1-over par 73.
“I had a great pairing playing with Tom [Bagley] and Jim Ruschioni,” said Walker. “Jimmy has really been one of my heros for all these years. They are both gentlemen and fun to play with. I saw a lot of great shots today.”
Winning this championship once was special to Walker, but capturing another divisional title would probably leave him speechless.
“Oddly enough I never played in this when I was a junior because I didn’t think I was good enough. Now I wish that I had,” said Walker. “The shorter course helps me out without a doubt. I can compete on a course that is within my range. It is a class “A” event, and it means a lot to win this tournament.”