Balky Putter Ends Harvey's Open Quest
Even the best of golfers have days they would rather forget. For Scott Harvey, the 2011 Carolinas Golf Association’s Player of the Year and one of the top amateurs in the country, last Monday would qualify as one of those days.
Harvey was one of 107 players competing in the U.S. Open local qualifying tournament held at Pinewild Country Club and figured to have a real shot at one of the eight berths available for the sectional event.
Instead, the 34-year-old Greensboro native went home frustrated once again, his dream of competing in the national championship thwarted by a balky putter and his ouster in a playoff for the final spot.
Harvey wasn’t thrilled about his chances of even being in a playoff when he walked off the 18th green. He had just two-putted for par from inside six feet on the final hole for a 2-under-par 70, and he was shaking his head.
“I was striking the ball well,” he said, “and I was playing well. I hit 17 greens in regulation, so I had to be hitting it well. But I three-putted from five feet on the second hole and missed two others inside four feet. Some of them were misreads and some were just bad putts.”
Harvey, who has become the premier amateur in the Carolinas over the past few years as he chases the legacy left by his father, Carolinas Golf Hall of Famer Bill Harvey, was shaking his head in frustration because he felt sure he had come up one shot short.
“I don’t think that’s (70) going to make it,” he said. “I think it’ll take 69 to get into a playoff.”
Harvey had teed off at 8:55 in the morning and the round had taken almost five hours for the threesome in a field that was sluggish all day. It was almost 2 p.m. when he reacted in anguish as that final birdie putt slid past the hole.
“The most disappointing thing is to play this well and get nothing out of it,” he said.
Unsure whether he would be in a playoff or if his day was done, Harvey had hours to wait to learn his destiny. The final threesome was teeing off just moments before he putted out on the 18th hole.
“Right now I’m just going to eat my putter for lunch,” he said. “A putter sandwich with nothing on it. Just a cold putter sandwich.”
Drew Weaver of St. Simons, Ga., was medalist for the day, going off in the sixth group and shooting a 65 that included a 32 on the back nine. He was well on his way back to Georgia before Harvey was contemplating cold putter for lunch.
“I don’t know what it is,” Weaver said, “but I really like playing this course.”
Also qualifying were PGA Tour player Brad Fritsch, a former Methodist College star from Canada who shot 66, Jon Turcott of Cary, Lanto Griffin of Blacksburg, Va., Paul Brown of Hartsville, S.C., and Adam Hart of Blythewood, S.C., all at 69.
Stefan Wiedergruen of Germany and Dustin Bray, the former University of North Carolina star from Asheboro, survived the playoff for the final two berths.
Elliot Gealy of Mooresville and Bobby Macwhinnie of Charlotte earned alternate spots.
Meanwhile, Harvey was left to ponder his fate. Should he hang around for the possibility of a playoff that he didn’t think was going to include the 70s, or should he get a jump on everything and drive back to Greensboro?
He hung around, of course, and joined a six-man playoff for the last two berths in the sectional and two alternate spots.
That didn’t turn out well, either, as he was eliminated on the second hole.
“I’ve tried to qualify four times and never made it,” he said.
So, Harvey will return to the Carolinas, where he has made it. Several times, in fact. At 34 he’s reached a maturity in his game that makes him a favorite in any amateur event he enters.
“It was about three years ago that I just became more comfortable with my game,” he said. “I finally won once, and I’ve been kind of rolling ever since.
“Before I won, it would feel like, ‘Well, it’s a big tournament; I hope I get close.’ Now I feel I can win. I’ve learned to control my misses, and they’re not nearly as bad now as they used to be. My philosophy now is just to step up and hit it, find it and hit it again.
“That’s the way my dad did, only he was a lot more accurate than me.”
And what would Dad say about the misbehaving putter on Monday?
“He’d say, ‘I’m sorry, buddy. That’s just golf.’”
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