Knowing the Springfield Country Club course and its tricky idiosyncrasies has helped three local players put themselves atop the leaderboard this week at the Ohio Amateur.
Luke Wells, a 16-year-old rising junior at Springfield High School, is sure to know which way is south when he’s putting on his home course.
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“They’re always slower,” he said of uphill and downhill putts. “And you have to know where the balls will roll back on the green.”
Austin Sipe of Centerville and Wright State leads at 5-under-par, Garrett Brickley of Wittenberg is second at 3-under and Wells is tied for third with Brennen Walsh of Cincinnati at 1-under.
Sipe, who just finished a four-year career at WSU, was a co-leader after the first round with a 67 and shot 68 Wednesday on the challenging par-70 layout. He has played in events at SCC over the years and recently shot 4-under-par at the one-day Springfield Classic as a tuneup.
“I thoroughly enjoy the challenge here,” Sipe said. “A lot of guys don’t really like it just because the greens drive them crazy. I knew what to expect coming in here and just love an old Donald Ross course.”
Brickley just finished at Wittenberg and helped lead his team to a Division III national title. SCC is the Tigers’ home course.
“I was definitely optimistic, definitely thought I could post a good finish here and contend for a title,” he said. “You’ve just got to put it on the right spots on the green, especially with how fast they are.”
Other area players to make the cut of top 60 and ties (72 players in all) are Chris Coleman (Waynesville) at 2-over-par; Andrew Mayhew (Dayton), Cameron Willis (Eaton) and Jeff Scohy (Bellbrook) at 3-over; Clark Engle (Springfield) at 4-over; Andy Birch (Springfield) at 8-over; Jordan Reese (Cedarville), Josh Elliott (Springfield) and Grant Engle (Springfield) at 9-over; Peter Samborsky II (Dayton) at 10-over; Zach Crawford (Vandalia) and Ryan Wenzler (Dayton) at 11-over. The top 40 and ties after today’s round will play in Friday’s final round.
Sipe is playing in his fourth Ohio Amateur. He finished tied for fourth last year at Findlay Country Club. He plans to stick to his plan of hitting lots of fairways and greens, being smart on the greens and staying aggressive.
“This is stuff you dream about when you’re younger, winning tournaments and the history behind the Ohio Am,” Sipe said. “And to look at the players that won it and to see your name up there that would be something special. But a lot of golf left. Can’t look ahead.”
Brickley, who is from Pickerington, failed to make the cut in his previous appearances in 2014 and 2016.
“I think I’m a better player now than I was last year,” he said. “I’m more mature on the golf course, I don’t let little things affect me as much as I used to. And it definitely helps playing at Springfield. I’m pretty confident I can go out there and play well just about any time.”
Wells, who also holds the lead halfway through the Springfield City Amateur that concludes this weekend, missed the cut by two shots last year.
“Coming into the week I was just hoping to make the cut,” he said. “But after yesterday I hit it to four feet on one and made birdie, and after that I felt real comfortable.”
Wells is six years younger than the three players he shares the leaderboard with.
“Age doesn’t do as much as you’d think in golf as in basketball or football where age makes a big difference,” Wells said. “As a 16-year-old being able to beat older players is a nice feeling.”
So is home-course advantage.