The Norman Transcript
MOORE — One tournament, so many stories. Here’s three.
The first one requires explanation about the course, Belmar, that’s hosting the Adams Pro Golf Tour’s OK Kids Korral Classic.
The course isn’t long, just 6,519 yards, with at least two very drivable par 4s in Nos. 2 and 10 and a couple others quite possibly within reach. And, it’s in impeccable shape, so the chances of getting a rotten bounce are low.
That’s why 12 players shot 66 or better in Wednesday’s first round of the 72-hole event that includes a prize purse in the neighborhood of $90,000.
Also, none of that makes it an easy course.
Huge patches of native grass no less than knee high line the course. Out of bounds comes into play on a few holes, but a chance to lose your ball comes into play on almost every hole. Drive it long and straight and make putts and you may not understand how four players failed to break 80 Wednesday. Hit it crooked and you might be very fortunate to break 80.
n Former Texas A&M golfer Jordan Russell kept it in play and made some putts.
Enough to shoot 61 on the par 70 course, even with a bogey on the short par 4 10th. Indeed, prior to the bogey, he was on pace to shoot 58 after shooting 6-under 30 on the par 36 front nine before tackling the par 34 back.
He made birdie at Nos. 1, 2, 3, 6, 7, 8, 11, 14, 15 and 18.
It was the lowest round of his life by two strokes, bettering a 63 he shot while the Aggie golf team was in Japan.
“I’ve been playing well the last two months,” Russell said. “Shooting some pretty low scores … I had some confidence coming into this week.”
This is his third Adams Tour event of the season. He tied for fifth despite a final-round 74 at the Gateway Buick GMC Classic in Garland, Texas, pocketing $4,355 for the effort and was in position to do some real damage last week in Miami, at the Buffalo Run Prairie Moon Casinos Classic, before a final-round 76 dropped him to 34th place.
He even has a Wikipedia entry that includes an out-of-date claim of him being the world’s 18th-ranked amateur golfer.
Anyway, if he can figure out his final-round woes, he may have a hard time losing this week, though 54 holes still remain.
For those wondering, what does one do after shooting 61?
“There wasn’t much to work on, so I just left,” he said. “You don’t want to work on something that’s not wrong.”
n Two players in the field are flying the banner of Norman’s Public Schools. That would be 2004 Norman North graduate J.R. Hurley and 2007 North graduate Taylor Artman.
Artman struggled to a 75. Hurley shot 68, leaving him in a tie for 19th and eight shots back of Russell. Not that Hurley was thinking about any of that.
“It’s relief, it’s excitement, it’s a little bit of confidence, because the first round is so important to help get yourself into position,” Hurley said. “I’m in a spot now, where if I play well (today), I’m in a good position heading into the weekend.”
Hurley’s nowhere near the very top of the leaderboard, but that hardly matters because on Day 1 of a 72-hole event, you can’t shoot your way into the winner’s circle, but you might well shoot your way out of it.
He wasn’t surprised by the low scores.
“It seems like every week, every day, somebody’s shooting six or seven under,” Hurley said.
Maybe he’ll be that guy today.
“I definitely left a couple out there,” he said. “I missed a couple short ones.”
Perhaps today, they fall.
n Then there’s Abraham Ancer, who played No. 1 at Oklahoma the last two years and, with Sooner teammate Michael Gellerman on his bag, began his first tournament as a professional Wednesday.
It wasn’t going that badly until his final hole, the par 5 ninth, where his second shot struck a green side cart path and bounced into the road that takes you to the clubouse.
The end result was an opening 73.
“It’s been my dream to play professional golf,” Ancer said. “Obviously, this wasn’t a very good start, but it should get better in the future.”
From Mission, Texas, only a few par 5s from the Mexican border, Ancer is making his home in Norman as he begins his professional career.
A big part of the reason is he’s still nine hours shy of graduation, an issue he plans to address entirely during the summer session.
Though he has some studying to do, Ancer’s still planning on going to Q-school in November. That may take some backing, but he’s working on that, too.
On a day his ball found the road, Wednesday was the beginning of a very long road.
n Divots: Bryan Reed, a Belmar member, and amateur, opened with a 73 … Sam Powell, a recent regular at the Westwood Invitational, opened with a 67 … Nobody can accuse the Adams Tour of not being international. Rika Batibasaga (65) is from Indooroopilly, Australia; Vilhelm Bogstrang (67) is from Oslo, Norway; Cyril Bounuiol (70) is from Laloubere, France and Peter McGibney (77) is from Dublin, Ireland.
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