Daily Independent (Ashland, KY)

Local Sports

June 12, 2014

Bellefonte CC rises to occasion after storm

Squires, Khamborn take lead after cleanup

ASHLAND — Battered by a quick-moving storm Tuesday night, Bellefonte Country Club bounced back to the challenge of hosting Wednesday’s opening round of the 31st Natural Resource Partners Bluegrass Junior.

Thanks to an all-night effort from the 13-member BCC maintenance crew, led by recently hired superintendent Andy Short, fallen trees, limbs and branches were cleared to make the course playable for the American Junior Golf Association event.

“People don’t know what this place looked like last night or earlier this morning,” said Stan Timberlake, the club’s general manager. “These guys worked through the night on all the debris. Some of them wore head bands with lights, like  miners. That’s a great crew. They knew what they needed to do and did it.””

Others pitched in as well, including tournament co-chairman Jeff Conley. He grabbed a rake and removed a large amount of small branches and leaves from an area beside the No. 16 fairway.

“That’s a dedicated member to Bellefonte Country Club and the AJGA,” Timberlake said.

Conley light-heartedly described himself as “Charlie Daniels with a leaf rake.”

Leaving BCC the previous night following a Junior-Am dinner and awards reception, Conley knew this was no ordinary storm.

“Standing in the clubhouse and looking out, you couldn’t see the putting green 20 feet away because of the rain,” he said. “I saw one limb partially down. The wind was so strong. It knocked down signs and blew them apart.”

The storm took out the whole side of a large oak near the No. 5 green and uprooted another tree on No. 14.

Conley arrived at the course at 6 a.m. after picking up coffee and bagels for the AJGA staff.

“At that time, the course was still a wreck but getting better,” Conley said. “The goal this morning was to get the fairways clear.”

The tournament started at 8:30 a.m. after a one-hour weather delay. Despite a wet forecast for the day, there were only a couple of light showers.

 Austin Squires of Union, Ky., took the boys’ lead with a 3-under par 67.

“When I wasn’t hitting it well, I was hitting my putts,” said Squires, who came out sizzling with five birdies in the first seven holes. He added two more on the back nine.

A couple of double bogeys prevented Squires from going extremely low. The last one came on No. 18.

Qualifier Kevin Jackson, from Atlanta, and Hong Kong’s Linus Lo, now living in Heathrow, Fla., trail Squires by one shot. Matthew Schiller (Cincinnati), Andrew DiPetrillo (Dover, Mass.) and CJ Jones (Bowling Green, Ky.) also came in under par with 69s.

Zongfan Li of Bradenton, Fla., provided another highlight Wednesday with a hole-in-one on No. 3.

Grayson’s Ryan Gillum shot 2-over-par 72 to lead area golfers in the 144-player boys and girls field from 17 states and four other countries.

Gillum is tied for 15th in a 14-player pack.

“It was a grind, that’s for sure,” said the 16-year-old who tied for eighth in last year’s Bluegrass Junior. “Real up and down. I started out hot with birdies on one and two, then bogeyed three and four to give them right back.”

Two more birdies on 11 and 12 got Gillum to 1-under, but he ran into another rough patch by going bogey-double bogey on 15 and 16.

“I hooked my drive into the trees and didn’t hit a great punchout,” he said. “It was a solid round, though. I’m happy with that start. If I can shoot something around par again, or under par, I feel that I would be in the hunt come Friday. The atmosphere in this tournament is great. It’s fun to compete against good juniors from all over the place.”

Evan Cox and Logan Jones, teammates last year at Ashland Blazer, posted 76s as did Boyd County golfer Drew Burke. Wheelersburg’s Mitchell McFarland shot 77, while Ashland’s Tate Justus and Chesapeake’s Drew Oxley opened with 78s.

Fai Khamborn, of Thailand and Cincinnati, matched par to rise to the top of the girls’ leaderboard. She holds a one-shot edge over two-time defending champion Haylee Harford of Leavittsburg, Ohio.

“No. 7 was an important hole for me in my round,” Khamborn said of her second of four birdies. “It was definitely my favorite hole of the day. I hope I can play as well in the second round as I did today.”

After today’s round, the field will be cut to the low 54 boys and 18 girls, plus ties.

College coaches from Virginia Tech, Murray State, Eastern Kentucky and Ohio Wesleyan attended the opening round.

All the while hummed a generator used to charge golf carts. BCC’s golf shop did not have electricity throughout the day.

“It’s been interesting,” Conley said.

Conley raked for about three hours, taking short breaks to help senior rules official Jim Wells as a spotter on No. 16.

ROCKY STANLEY can be reached at rstanley@dailyindependent.com or (606) 326-2671.

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