U.S. Amateur qualifier heats up links at Cleveland Country Club
by RICHARD ROBERTS Banner Sports Editor
Jul 15, 2014 | 397 views | 0 0 comments | 9 9 recommendations | email to a friend | print

Robert Ball of Atlanta blasts from the bunker on No. 18 during qualifying for the U.S. Amateur at Cleveland Country Club Monday morning under the watchful eye of Logan Matthews of Franklin. Ball made the putt to save par. Banner photo, STEPHEN CRASS
Robert Ball of Atlanta blasts from the bunker on No. 18 during qualifying for the U.S. Amateur at Cleveland Country Club Monday morning under the watchful eye of Logan Matthews of Franklin. Ball made the putt to save par. Banner photo, STEPHEN CRASS
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General Manager Lamar Mills breathed a sigh of relief when the final score was posted at the end of a long day at the U.S. Amateur qualifier Monday at Cleveland Country Club.

The predicted inclement weather stayed away from Cleveland and CCC, well to the west enough for the field of 83 golfers to finish two 18-hole rounds on the perfectly manicured links as the temperatures ranged from the mid-70s in the morning to the mid-90s as the final groups made their way to the scorers table late Monday evening.

“We got it in,” said a pleased Mills after returning from a trip around the course. “We made it. The weather stayed good for us all day, so we didn’t have to worry about that. That was great. There has been a lot of good golf out here today.”

Three hopefuls looking to make it to the U.S. Amateur came in tied for the lead after scores for the first 18 holes were recorded.

Jeremy Sanders of Chatsworth, Ca., Lopez Rivarola of Jaime, Argentina and Knoxville’s Ben Reeves were all tied with rounds of 4-under par 67.

Seven golfers were tied at 69. The top three move on with two alternates waiting in the wings if someone drops out along the way.

At the end of the day, Sanders and the rest of the field would give way to Keith Mitchell, who blistered the links with a sizzling 7-under par 64 in the afternoon session. Mitchell carded a 1-under par 70 during the early round.

Sanders was relegated to second alternate after finishing in a tie for fifth with Thomas Mitchell. Tom Lovelady captured the first alternate spot with a fourth-place finish.

Joining Mitchell were Hunter Richardson (69-67) and Reeves (67-69), who tied for second with equal scores of 136.

“I started off hot but kind of cooled off on the back nine. But I played solid all day,” Sanders said of his 1-under par 70 afternoon round. “It was playing tough. The front nine out here is kind of tough. But I wasn’t too mad with how I played.”

Local golfer Keoni Vidrine fired rounds of 70-73 to go plus-1 for the day and tied for 16th. Dylan Lillard and Clark Melton ended the 36 holes tied for 21st after both carded rounds of 70 and 74.

The course and the weather, although sunny with a few clouds floating overhead, played a large role in the increase of many second-round scores, according to Mills.

“It is just as we wanted it to be. It’s played just like we thought it would all day long,” he said of the CCC’s 18 holes. “It speaks highly as to how strong the field is with the three spots we have open. This morning, the scoring was a little lower than I anticipated it being. But it looks like the afternoon brought the scores back up some. It’s been hot today, it’s really hot out here. Everyone is getting tired. Thirty-six holes on one day with this kind of heat, 90-plus temperatures, it’s a tough test of golf.”

Sanders said the difference in the morning and afternoon temperatures and high humidity had a definite effect on his play.

“My hands have been sweating the whole day. I’m not used to that being from Southern California. I’m a little disappointed I missed my par put on the last hole, but I gave it a good run,” he said.