Vollertsen leads 4 GC golfers into Kansas Am match play

7/25/2013

Vollertsen leads 4 GC golfers into Kansas Am match play

Vollertsen leads 4 GC golfers into Kansas Am match play

By BRETT MARSHALL

bmarshall@gctelegram.com

Grant Vollertsen wanted to be sure that his final round of qualifying for the match play portion of the 103rd Kansas Amateur Championship would put him in a position where he wouldn't have any last-minute worries.

So when Vollertsen, a Garden City dentist, walked off the 10th green on Wednesday at Indian Hills Country Club in Mission Hills standing at 4-under-par for the day, he knew he was in the right position.

"I just wanted to finish out a good round, but let it slip away," Vollertsen said.

Vollertsen completed his final round of the 36-hole qualifying with an even-par 70 on the 6,501-yard layout to compile a two-day total of 144, 4-over-par, to easily make the 64-player field for match play which was scheduled to begin today.

Also qualifying from Garden City was Juan Ollarzabal, who followed his round of 73 on Tuesday with a 74 to finish at 147.

Two other local players and one former Sublette standout — Shawn Audrain, Sean Thayer and Gary Lucas — were at 149 and found themselves in a 9-player sudden death playoff for the final six spots into the match play bracket.

All three made it through the nerve-wracking playoff, with Thayer seeded No. 61, Audrain No. 62 and Lucas No. 64.

Other area players who missed the cut included Syracuse's Alex Zuzelski (158), Lakin's Brick Beymer (166) and Ulysses' Brady Buxman (169).

For Vollertsen, though, Wednesday's round was about nailing iron shots which set up numerous short birdie putts to get his round off to a blistering start.

"I finally made some birdies (5) and that made things a bit easier," Vollertsen said. "I was real close on the bubble and I started playing mind games with myself trying to figure out what score I would need. I just went out and played, relaxed a bit and things happened. It helped to get off to a good start."

His red-hot front nine began with a gap wedge to two feet on the 161-yard, par-3, third. He knocked an 8-iron to three feet on the par-4 fifth and then followed with a 7-iron to 10 feet and drained that one, too. He got it to 4-under with a 6-iron to two feet on the par-4 10th.

"Got a little in my comfort zone and I knew I was probably low enough to qualify," Vollertsen said of his round at that point. "Then I just let it get away and couldn't finish it off. Honestly, I still don't feel like I'm hitting it that good, but it was a good score today."

And now that he's in the match play portion, he will look to a different approach in playing the Indian Hills layout.

"It's a completely different beast," Vollertsen said of match play, where you win based on the number of holes one beats the opponent. "You don't have to add them up (score). It changes your strategy if you're opponent is in trouble. You just hope you're hitting first a lot (winner of a hole tees off first on the next hole)."

Former Hays High standout Trey Herman captured medalist honors with a total of 136 on rounds of 69-67. He was one shot ahead of Kyle Weldon of St. Louis, who had rounds of 69-68--137.

Vollertsen's (seeded 26th) first-round opponent will be David Auer of Wichita (146, 39th), with the match teeing off at 11 a.m. Ollarzabal (No. 49) will play in the 7:50 a.m. match against Andrew Beckler of Topeka (142, 16th). Thayer will face Michael McGee (146) at 12:30 p.m. Audrain takes on Pete Krsnich (No. 3) at 11:30 a.m. and Lucas meets Hays' Herman at 7:30 a.m.

Thayer and Audrain each parred the first two playoff holes (Nos. 17, 18) to earn their way into match play. Audrain backed into the field, finishing with a 79 after an opening 70. Thayer had rounds of 75-74 and played the last nine holes in 1-under-par to get into the playoff.

"I didn't play too bad, but I bladed three bunker shots and made double bogey twice," said Thayer, the 1999 Kansas Am champion. "It's tough to play when you've had no practice. The potential to play good is there. Now, I'm just glad to be playing tomorrow (today). We'll see how things go."

A win by each golfer will advance them to Friday's second round of matches in the morning, with the Sweet 16 scheduled for Friday afternoon. Quarterfinals and semifinals will be played on Saturday with the final match, set for 36 holes, will be played on Sunday.

Indian Hills is an A.W. Tillinghast design and has hosted two previous Amateurs — 1985 and 2003. The 2014 Amateur will be played at nearby Mission Hills Country Club. The Golf Club at Southwind will host the 2016 Amateur, following the 2015 event at Wichita Country Club. Other future sites include Milburn Golf & Country Club in Overland Park (2017) and Firekeeper Golf Course, north of Topeka, in 2018.

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