Home Course Advantage
Two of the area's four local golfers competing this week in the 107th North and South Amateur Championship, got out early Tuesday morning and both managed to come in with solid scores in the qualifying medal round played on Course No. 2, Donald Ross' famed layout at Pinehurst Resort and Country Club.
Pinehurst resident Eleana Collins fired a 4-over 77 and Katja Dammann shot a 5-over 78. Both scores appeared good enough to make today's match play.
Four other locals participated in the qualifying round. One, Corrine Carr, was also well-positioned to one of the 34 players who make match play at deadline. For results, go online to thepilot.com.
After an adventurous front nine, Eleana Collins steadied the ship to post a score of 4-over par on the par 73 6472-yard layout. She completed her round with a 15-foot birdie putt on 18.
"I got off to a solid start by parring the first four holes," said Collins. "I was hitting the ball fine and my putting stroke felt OK, but the last five holes of the front I went: bogey, double bogey, bogey, par, and bogey. So as a result I lost confidence in my putting, was starting to lose my rhythm and was trying too hard to get the ball in the hole."
Originally from Hong Kong, Collins moved to Pinehurst with her parents seven years ago. She is a former N.C. Junior Amateur champion and was the only one of the four local players in this year's championship to advance to last year's match play with a two-round total of 154. On her bag then was long-time Pinehurst legendary caddie, Eddie "Eddie Mac" MacKenzie.
"When I got to the 10th tee after three-putting two of my last three holes," Collins said, "Eddie told me that I need to start playing golf and stop trying to play. That loosened me up and things worked out pretty well on the back nine."
After making the turn at 5-over-par, Collins shot one under for her final nine holes. Along with her birdie on the 18th hole, she also birdied the par 4 12th hole, by sinking a 25-footer from the fringe. However it was an up and down for bogey on the treacherous 186-yard, 15th par 3 which Collins felt was the most crucial in keeping her round going.
"My tee shot went over the green (on 15)," Collins said, "and came to rest on a bare patchso from that lie my second shot flew out of there. It was big momentum-wise to get up and down from the other side to eliminate a big number."
The other local player that went off early on Tuesday was Katja Dammann, whose group came in directly after Collins' threesome.
"I felt like I did pretty well today," said Dammann after signing her scorecard. "I got lots of up and downs, and also drove the ball really well. My putting was okay but could use some work and my irons terrible and I did not strike hardly any approach shots well."
Dammann is currently a member of the UNC-Pembroke golf team. This past season, as a sophomore, she was voted the team's Most Valuable Player. She is also a two-time Academic All-American at UNC-P. Tuesday was her first taste of the North and South, as she played her debut competitive round on Pinehurst No. 2.
"I had only played this course once before today," she said, "and that was four years ago. Back then it did not strike me as that great of a track, but now that I am a better player, I have gained a new-found respect for the course, especially the greens and like it much more now.
I can really tell that it will be a great place to hold a women's U.S Open; they can set it up to play really hard, but also fair."
While Dammann was among the leaders when she finished her round, she still felt as if she left some strokes out on the course in her qualifying round.
"The only birdie I had was from near 40 feet on hole ten," she said, "which is the longest hole on the course. I had three more great looks at birdie but each one was a downhill putt and I just hit them too hard.
"So I am going to go grab some lunch, then I will be spending some serious time practicing slick downhill putts so that I can hopefully get some to drop during match play."
Contact F.W. Manning II at 639-5481 or by email at email@example.com.
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