By Brian DePasquale, USGA
Galloway Township, N.J. (Sept. 19, 2012) -- Bruce Woodall, 23, of Yanceyville, N.C., fired a 2-under-par 69 to lead North Carolina to a four-stroke lead following Wednesday’s first round at the 2012 USGA Men’s State Team Championship at the par-71, 6,963-yard Galloway National Golf Club.
Combined with Paul Simson’s even-par 71, North Carolina carded a team total of 2-under 140.
California, Iowa and 2009 champion Pennsylvania each shot 2-over 144 to share second position. North Carolina tied for second behind Kansas in this championship two years ago at Mayacama Golf Club in Santa Rosa, Calif.
Play was suspended due to darkness at 7:14 p.m. EDT with two players still on the course. They will complete the first round at 8 a.m. on Thursday. The second round is scheduled to begin at 7 a.m.
The USGA Men’s State Team Championship consists of 54 holes of stroke play, with the two lowest of three individual scores counting as the team total for the round. The team with the lowest aggregate score following the final round on Friday is the champion.
The Men’s State Team Championship is conducted biennially by the United States Golf Association. The men’s and women’s competitions are held in alternating years. Each state is responsible for selecting its team and the players must reside in that state to be eligible. All 50 states, plus the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico, are represented in the 2012 field.
Woodall, who previously played at Galloway National in an NCAA regional as a member of the University of Virginia team, birdied the par-5 11th and followed with a 5-foot birdie putt on the 12th. An errant tee shot into the trees resulted in a bogey on the 15th, but he quickly regained that stroke by holing another short birdie putt at the 571-yard par-5 16th. His 69 was the low round of the day.
“In terms of thinking around the golf course, it definitely helped,” said Woodall about playing here in the spring of 2009. “There are some ridges [on the greens] that I realized were there and tee shots you need to keep in a certain spot.”
Simson, 61, of Raleigh, N.C., made four birdies during his round to offset a double-bogey 6 on the par-4 12th and two bogeys. The 2010 USGA Senior Amateur champion was impressed with Woodall’s play.
“He’s solid in every part of his game,” Simson said. “He is long, thinks well, hits the ball solidly and doesn’t put himself in difficult situations. He’s playing well, mature beyond his years. [Our team] has a combination of ancient age and youth.”
Paul Misko, 23, of Thousand Oaks, Calif., and Jon Olson, 32, of Ankeny, Iowa, each carded 1-under 70s in the morning to help their teams finish at 2-over 144. Nathan Smith, who won his fourth U.S. Mid-Amateur title last week, shot 72 for Pennsylvania, which also had 72s from Sean Knapp and Andrew Mason.
Misko, whose teammate John McClure, 53, of Los Angeles, shot 74, played the outward nine in 2-under 33 before adding birdies on holes 11 and 15. He found the water off the tee on 16, leading to double-bogey 7. He followed that with a bogey at the 247-yard, par-3 17th, and finished by getting up and down for par from a greenside bunker at the closing hole.
“I decided to hit driver [on 16] and hit in the water,” said Misko, who lost in the round of 32 at last month’s U.S. Amateur to eventual semifinalist Brandon Hagy and fell in the first round to eventual champion T.J. Vogel at the U.S. Amateur Public Links in July. “I hit a good shot at 17, but it just didn’t work out. I feel like I am playing better when I am playing against better people or harder golf courses. Bigger events, I love them.”
Olson, playing in his first USGA event since the 2001 U.S. Amateur Public Links, made four birdies and three bogeys en route to his 70, while teammate Gene Elliott, 50, of West Des Moines, carded a 74. Olson, who began his round on the 10th tee, holed a 55-foot chip shot for a birdie on No. 10, one of three birdies over his first six holes.
“I busted driver and 3-iron and was just in front of the green,” said Olson, who won the 2012 Iowa State Amateur with a final-round 64. “[I] hit a great chip and it went in the hole. When you start like that good things are going to happen.”
Olson was also pleased with the way he managed his game on the challenging Tom Fazio design.
“I put it in play off the tee,” he said. “You have to do everything well. Putting is such a huge component of it. There are some flags you cannot go at. You have to have such discipline and patience in these kind of events.”
Louisiana and South Carolina were among five teams tied for fifth at 3-over-par 145. Matt Nicholas fired an even-par 71 to team with Patrick Christovich’s 74 for Louisiana.
Steven Liebler had a 71 and Todd White, a semifinalist at last week’s U.S. Mid-Amateur, added a 74 for South Carolina.
Georgia’s Mark Strickland had two birdies on each nine in posting a 1-under-par 70. His teammate, David Noll Jr., added a 75.
New York’s Mike Miller, who reached the round of 32 at last month’s U.S. Amateur, made three birdies in shooting 72, while teammate Max Buckley, a U.S. Amateur quarterfinalist in 2011, added a 73.
Missouri was paced by Brad Nurski’s 72,, which was one stroke better than teammates Richard “Skip” Berkmeyer and Nick Wilson.
The first round started promptly at 7:10 a.m. EDT, despite an overnight storm that produced a quarter of an inch of rain and wind gusts of nearly 60 miles per hour. Galloway National Golf Club, which is hosting its first USGA championship, came out of the storm unscathed. Ohio, Oregon and host New Jersey did not post a first-round team score because each had one player who did not complete their round due to darkness
Brian DePasquale is a manager of championship communications. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.