If you’re looking to watch a birdie fest, you are not going to find one at this year's Coleman Invitational.
With some of the best amateur players in the world teeing it up this weekend the course is playing at an average of over 77. In today’s second round there was only one golfer scoring under par -- Patrick Christovich of New Orleans who had a jaw-dropping six birdies and took full advantage of the favorable early conditions.
The main reason the course is playing so difficult is a combination of fast greens (13.5 on the stimpmeter) and winds gusting at over 20 mph. Seminole requires local knowledge to score well, and two of the club's members are taking advantage of that knowledge.
Both Robert Gerwin II and Mike McCoy are both in the final group of tomorrow's Senior Division. McCoy, the 2023 USA Walker Cup captain, slid to a 79 after opening at 71, but he only trails by two since Gerwin (who also shot 71 in the first round) posted 77.
The second-best round of the day was recorded by Mid-Am leader Evan Beck. Beck walked around Seminole like he was a seasoned pro despite this being his first Coleman Invitational. The key to his great play was a combination of stellar distance control with his irons as well as his ability to scramble for par.
Beck also kept himself out of trouble and played to his strengths. He only recorded two birdies on the day on the back-to-back par fives, with putts inside five feet. He was able to shoot a 72 despite making a single putt outside of 10 feet. Sometimes it's what you don't do as much as what you do.
Beck, who won Virginia State Open, The Eastern Am, and the Virginia State Mid Am, is certainly deserving of his first Coleman invitation, and he's taking full advantage of it.
“It was playing so hard, I was doing really well on the tee shots and iron shots," said Beck. “My typical ball flight is low so I’m geared to do better in the wind”
And if there is any question what he thinks of the course, that was answered by this statement:
“This is my favorite place to play in the entire world."
Amateur stalwart and decorated Walker Cupper Stewart Hagestad put up an impressive round despite having a three-hole blow-up on the back nine. That "run of pain" included a failed up-and-down attempt on No. 11, a greenside bunker to greenside bunker results on No. 12 (it's a frequent occurrence on that hole) that resulted in a double bogey, and a 3-putt from just off the green on No. 13.
In fairness to the guy with the Instagram handle "Stew" during this span of holes the wind was at its worst and he was playing dead into fan.
“I was hitting solid shots all day, sometimes mother nature doesn’t cooperate, and you get bit,” said Hagestad.
“Its such a stressful place to play but you can’t play defense," he went on. "Sometimes you just must step up and hit good shots and deal with the consequences accordingly.”
As for the player he has to catch on Saturday?
“Evan has a super high golf IQ and has been able to pick up a lot of the difficulties of this course quickly”
Hagestad and Beck are the same age and have been competing against each other since junior golf. Tomorrow's final pairing should be interesting, with
In the senior division, Robert Gerwin shot a very impressive 2-over on the back nine after going out in 40. He has played in the Coleman since 1998 but this is his first time being eligible for the senior flight. Gerwin used his local knowledge and took tons of half shots out on the course to keep the ball below the wind and to avoid over spinning the golf ball.
“My strategy for tomorrow is to keep it in places where you can make par," he said.
Mike McCoy didn’t play his best golf today but with a 79 he didn’t lose much ground on his competition. He had a 41 on the front nine but started to find his "normal" game by the end of his round.
“I didn’t play very well today. My nerves were up today and I was jittery which doesn’t happen often,” said McCoy.
“But tomorrow's mindset is to see the shot play the shot. Get out of my head and stop thinking about my golf swing.”
That sounds like good advice for any of us.
Thanks to reporter Joe Nieporte for providing interviews and photos.
ABOUT THE Coleman Invitational
One of the very best amateur events all year
long played on the last great private course
designed by Donald Ross. The course, not long
today's standards, lies hard by the Atlantic
Ocean. Oceanic winds and very fast greens
this course teeth. Ben Hogan once said 'If you
can play Seminole, you can play any course in
The tournament is a 54-hole stroke play invitational
that draws an elite field of mid-
amateurs and seniors.
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