Power Ties Career-Low Round with 10-under 62 at eGolf Tour’s Grand Harbor Open
By Stewart Moore
Ninety Six, SC – Seamus Power’s 2012 season on the eGolf Tour has had a number of highs, and a few lows. Among the highs were his first career win at the River Run Classic in March, and his second career win at the Spring Creek Classic in June. At the tour’s third annual Grand Harbor Open this week, the Waterford, Ireland native sits poised to make a run at win No. 3, having posted a 10-under 62 in Wednesday’s opening round to grab a one-shot lead heading into Thursday’s second round of the 72-hole event.
The Grand Harbor Open is the 18th event of the 2012 eGolf Tour season and is being contested this week at both The Patriot Golf Club at Grand Harbor and The Golf Club at Star Fort in Ninety-Six, SC.
Power, who entered the week on the heels of a third-place finish at last week’s Championship at Woodside Plantation, began day one on the front nine at the Davis Love III-designed Patriot course, and quickly took his round well into red figures.
Birdies on Nos. 1 and 2 gave way to a bogey at the par-3 fourth, but a trifecta of birdies on Nos. 5 through 7 helped to erase the early blemish, in turn taking Power to 4-under on the day.
“I got off to a nice start and made some nice putts early on,” said Power, 25. “I wasn’t hitting it great, but I like the course and the greens are very good, so I was able to get a few birdies to start.”
Pars on Nos. 8 and 9 gave Power a 4-under 32 on the turn, while a birdie at the par-4 11th moved him to 5-under.
At the lengthy par-5 13th, the former East Tennessee State University star hit his second shot from 257 yards to the back of the green, just 15 feet from the hole. Looking to move to 7-under on the day, Power converted the putt for an eagle that helped to re-energize his round.
“The eagle on 13 really got me going. I hit two really good shots to the back edge, then knocked it in from 15 feet,” said Power. “I hit some very good shots after that and really kept it going.”
The eagle lit yet another fire under Power, who birdied Nos. 15, 16 and 17 – with 15 and 17 being arduous par-3s – to move to 10-under on the day heading to the par-5 18th.
Trying to break his career-best round of 62 – carded earlier this year in the opening round of the Irish Creek Classic – Power hit a poor tee shot at the last, which then led to a solid up-and-down par on what otherwise is a stock birdie hole at the professional level.
The closing par left Power with a 10-under 62 on day one, and a one-shot lead heading into Thursday’s second round. Power will head 12 minutes down the road from Grand Harbor to Star Fort for his second round, contested on a 1969 George Cobb layout that is nothing if not traditional. The parkland setting, and flawless greens, suit Power’s eye just fine.
“It’s a lovely start, but there is a long way to go,” he said. “I like Star Fort a lot. The greens are very good and they have some slope to them, especially on the front. It will be a different sort of test, but one I’m looking forward to.”
With two wins on the year and three top-3 finishes overall, Power has attributed his good play of late to the putting surfaces the eGolf Tour has presented over the past two events. While bent grass greens tend to struggle in the August heat, the Bermuda grass greens both this week and at Woodside Plantation allowed for good short games to shine.
“The greens the last few weeks have been great, and I’ve been putting well. The faster speed really suits me,” said Power. “It was nice to get a top-5 last week and keep it going this week, and a lot of that has to do with being able to make some putts.”
Currently No. 8 on the eGolf Tour money list with earnings of $47,132, Power’s 2012 season has been a rollercoaster ride of sorts, with the two wins, but six missed cuts, all in just 13 starts.
“I’ve always been a little inconsistent, I’ve struggled with that. I’ve made some swing changes here and there which took time to come together,” he said. “It has definitely been more inconsistent than I would have liked.”
Since his days as a standout Buccaneer golfer at ETSU, Power has battled tennis elbow in his right arm – at times causing him to miss events or withdraw in advance in order to let it heal. The nagging injury, which involves throbbing, arthritis-like pain in the elbow, has not contributed to Power’s inconsistency in 2012.
“No, that really hasn’t played a part. It’s just how I’ve always been, up and down,” he said. “As long as the ground is soft, like it is this week, the elbow is fine. It’s not an issue at all.”
In solo-second place following an opening-round 63 is Stephen Poole Jr. of Aiken, SC.
Poole, a former Clemson golfer who also opened his week at The Patriot as well, began his day one round in similar fashion to Power, posting five birdies and an eagle in his first eight holes to quickly move to 7-under on the day. The latter part of Poole’s opening tear featured a birdie-birdie-birdie-birdie-eagle stretch on Nos. 4 through 8.
A 29 on his opening nine led to a more subtle closing nine for Poole, who carded birdies on 13 and 16 to close with a 2-under 34 for his first-round 63. The 9-under effort marked a career-low for Poole on the eGolf Tour, who has played the tour full-time since 2006 – missing just the 2010 season when he had Web.com Tour status.
Thus far in 2012, the 29-year-old Poole has made 8 of 14 cuts, with a T8 at the Bolle Classic in June serving as his best finish. The Spartanburg, SC native picked up his lone eGolf Tour title at the Coulter Real Estate Classic in August of 2006, and has since notched 16 top-10 finishes – including a T2 at the Willow Creek Open last year.
Chesson Hadley of Raleigh, NC, Drew Weaver of High Point, NC, Matthew Ryan of Santa Clarita, CA, Henrik Norlander of Sweden, Timothy Madigan of Rio Rancho, NM and Blaine Peffley of Lebanon, PA are tied for third at 6-under through 18 holes of play. Five of the six 66s came at The Patriot, with Ryan’s 66 representing the low round of the day at Star Fort.
Weaver, the tour’s leading money winner with $104,513 in season-long earnings, birdied six of his first 13 holes at The Patriot en route to a bogey-free 66 on day one – his 18th round of 67 or better on the year.
Just one week removed from only his third missed cut of the year at Woodside Plantation, Weaver has bounced back admirably this week, hoping to reassert the dominance that took him to the top of the money list this summer. From early May through mid-July, Weaver posted two wins and four runner-up finishes to put his stamp on what has without doubt been a breakthrough year for the 2007 British Amateur champion.
The shot of the day came from Norlander, who made a hole-in-one on the par-3 seventh at The Patriot using a 9-iron from 138 yards en route to his 66. It was the third career ace for the former Augusta State star, but his first in competition.
Second-round play in the Grand Harbor Open will begin at 7:30 AM on Thursday morning at both The Patriot and Star Fort. The tournament is open to the public and free of charge.