Thompson, Bhatia climb to share of Jones Cup lead
Akshay Bhatia
Akshay Bhatia

In the opening round of the Jones Cup, Ocean Forest Golf Club held all but three players to a score of par or higher. Brisk temperatures and gusting wind make the teeth come out at the Rees Jones-designed gem in Sea Island, Ga., and that didn’t change much on Saturday.

A relative local reached the top of the leaderboard in the second round with one of six red rounds. Davis Thompson, a University of Georgia sophomore who hails from St. Simons, Ga., (just down the Georgia coast), had 2-under 70 to reach 2 under for the tournament. He is tied with Akshay Bhatia, the top-ranked junior in the nation, who had identical rounds of 72-70.

Thompson, who was 15th here a year ago, played a full summer amateur schedule. One of his better finishes came not too far from this week’s venue. He was 35th at the Players Amateur at Berkeley Hall in Bluffton, S.C.

Thompson also was 37th at the Monroe Invitational and 31st at the Dogwood over the summer.

As for Bhatia, the past year has been a matter of piling up the wins. The notable ones (Rolex Tournament of Champions, Junior PGA Championship, Polo Golf Junior Classic, Junior Invitational at Sage Valley) have been in fields of juniors only.

The 17-year-old from Wake Forest, N.C., the only junior golfer invited to a December practice session for Walker Cup hopefuls, would kick that trend if he could finish on top of the Jones Cup on Sunday.

First-round leader Will Grimmer fell to a tie for third with Alex Fitzpatrick, the U.S. Amateur quarterfinalist and a freshman at Wake Forest. Grimmer, an Ohio State senior, had too many bogeys on Saturday and fell from his opening 68 to a second-round 75.

Fitzpatrick, the Englishman, went the other way. He logged six birdies in his 69, which was five shots better than Friday’s 74.

Chandler Eaton and Stephen Franken are tied for fifth at even par. Defending champion Garrett Barber, an LSU freshman, is tied for ninth at 3 over.

There are nine mid-amateurs in the field, and among those men, Joseph Deraney occupies the best position on the leaderboard. The reigning Canadian Mid-Amateur champion is T-15 after rounds of 72-77.

Results: Jones Cup
1NCAkshay BhatiaWake Forest, NC100072-70=142
2GADavis ThompsonSt. Simons, GA70072-70=142
T3EnglandAlex FitzpatrickEngland50074-69=143
T3OHWill GrimmerCincinnati, OH50068-75=143
T5GAChandler EatonAlpharetta, GA50073-71=144

View full results for Jones Cup


The Jones Cup is probably the biggest of the springtime amateur majors in the United States, and the reason is the venue and the strong U.S. and international field. The past champions list is littered with PGA Tour stars, including Justin Thomas, Patrick Reed, Luke List, Kyle Stanley, Beau Hossler and several others.

This 54-hole individual stroke-play event, inaugurated in 2001, is played at Ocean Forest Golf Club. The Rees Jones design opened in 1995 and has hosted the Georgia State Amateur Championship, the Southern Amateur Championship and the 2001 Walker Cup Match. The Jones Cup brings together many of the finest amateurs from the United States and abroad for a three-day competition.

The Jones Cup was born from a deep commitment to amateur golf by the A.W. Jones family, who founded the Cloister and Sea Island Golf Club in 1928. The Sea Island Golf Club has played host to seven USGA championships. The Jones Cup is yet another extension of the family's strong involvement in amateur golf.

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