Audrain's even-par round leads area golfers at Kansas Am

7/24/2013

Audrain's even-par round leads area golfers at Kansas Am

Audrain's even-par round leads area golfers at Kansas Am

By BRETT MARSHALL

bmarshall@gctelegram.com

It had been six years since Garden City's Shawn Audrain had teed it up to play in the Kansas Amateur Match Play Championship.

So when he walked off the 6,501-yard, par-70 Indian Hills Country Club layout in Mission Hills early Tuesday afternoon with a round of 70, he was certainly one happy golfer.

"For me, it's about as solid a round of golf that I could play," Audrain said Tuesday afternoon in a telephone interview. "I'm real tickled. The golf course is in great shape. The greens are the great equalizer here and the putts were going in today."

Audrain's score put him in a six-way tie for 11th place after the first of two days of stroke play qualifying and was the low round of the day for Garden City and southwest Kansas golfers. Pete Krsnich of Wichita had the low round of the day, firing a 4-under-par 66 on the historic A.W. Tillinghast layout.

Another Garden Citian, Juan Ollarzabal, came in with a 73 to position himself with a good chance at making match play, where he is tied for 38th.

Garden Citians Grant Vollertsen and 1999 Kansas Amatuer champion Sean Thayer had rounds of 74 and 75 to be tied for 52nd and 65th, respectively. The low 64 scores after today's final round of qualifying will advance to match play on Thursday. There is a single round on that day, followed by double rounds on Friday and Saturday before the 36-hole championship match tees off at 7:30 a.m. on Sunday.

While he didn't have his exact statistics for the round, Audrain said he probably missed only three or four of the 18 greens in regulation strokes.

"I was only in the trees once or twice and had to punch out," said Audrain, who last played in the Am when it was at Topeka Country Club in 2007. "They have tough greens here and if I do have a strength, it is my putting."

Audrain's round included four birdies and four bogeys.

He began his round on the 10th hole and promptly three-putted for a bogey.

"I had played in the Dodge City Invitational on Sunday and bogeyed the last two holes, so to bogey the first hole was a bit unsettling," Audrain said.

But he settled down and birdied the 192-yard, par-3, 13th, when he hit a hybrid wood to 12 feet and sank the putt. He followed that with a bogey at the par-4 16th to make his turn in 1-over 36. He got back to even-par with a 20-foot birdie putt on the first hole, his 10th of the day. He then bogeyed the par-3 third and par-4 fifth before rallying down the closing holes.

A 7-iron which he ran onto the sixth green to within two feet and tapped in for birdie settled things down and he closed out his opening day with a sand wedge to 12 feet and birdied to get back to even par. He said the golf course sets up well for his game.

"I'm not one of those long bombers and this course equalizes that out with the tight fairways and tough greens," Audrain said. "I thought after playing my practice round yesterday (Monday) that the course was a good fit. It was the first time I'd seen the course."

Of course, the ultimate goal is to make the match play portion of the tournament and Audrain said his round gives him just a bit of comfort room for today's final stroke play round.

"If I can just come out and shoot a 72, 73, that puts me in good shape," Audrain said. "It's nice to get a little space if I need it."

Ollarzabal, who will compete this fall at Dodge City Community College, had nines of 37-36, also starting on the 10th hole. He had two bogeys and one birdie, that on the par-5 18th and then had eight pars and one bogey on the front nine to close out his round.

For Vollertsen, the 74 was another day in which the current High Plains Amateur champion described his round as "a grind."

"Just inconsistent ball striking and having to putt for pars," Vollertsen said. "I think I'll have to get better and need to go lower tomorrow (today) if I want to make match play. There just weren't enough birdies out there (one) for me to shoot a low score."

Thayer, playing his first tournament round of the year, struggled from the outset on the back nine, shooting a 5-over-par 40, which included a double-bogey on the par-4 15th. He then steadied himself with an even-par 35 on the front nine, recording a birdie on the par-3 third but finishing with a bogey on the par-4 ninth.

Other area scores for the opening day were Alex Zuzelski of Syracuse (78), Brick Beymer of Lakin (79) and Brady Buxman of Ulysses (88). Former Sublette golfer Gary Lucas, now of Topeka, was tied with Thayer at 75.

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