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Lange leads by one stroke after NYS Men’s Am first round

Clinton Lange of Capital Hills at Albany holds a one stroke lead over the 97th New York State Men’s Amateur Championship field after Round One at Crag Burn Golf Club.

Lange converted five birdies en route to a one-under 71 finish during Tuesday’s first round.

As the day went on, the winds picked up around Crag Burn with storms hitting the surrounding cities. Clinton was a part of the first group in the morning wave and explained how this gave him the opportunity to go low: “We had an overwhelming advantage. There wasn’t any wind until we got to our last four holes. It was really calm, and I had a bunch of birdie putts. We didn’t have this weather everyone else is starting to deal with.”

One back is defending champion Will Thomson of Oak Hill Country Club, 2018 runner up Chris Blyth of Mendon Golf Club, Kyle Ritchie of Cherry Valley Club, and Patrick Keegan of Locust Hill Country Club.

Thomson, who also won back-to-back NYS Boys’ Sub-Junior Amateur titles in 2013 and 2014, started this year’s championship off slow, but found momentum on the back side to shoot even par.

“It was a grind out there. I was definitely looking to go a little lower. I am really happy with the way I battled back on the back nine. I was getting frustrated at the end of the front and then made some birdies. Overall, pretty solid. Tomorrow I am looking to get out and go low. We’ll see if it rains tonight, softens up the greens which would be huge because they are really firm,” Thomson said.

Thomson is coming off of his first semester on the nationally ranked University of Texas men’s golf team. Speaking on how this experience has changed his game, Thomson said, “The UT golf course is really tough, so it’s always good competition every day and I love playing with all the guys.”

Blyth looks to continue his momentum from last year’s championship. At the 2018 Championship, Blyth and Thomson were tied for the lead heading into the final hole. Thomson birdied the hole, capturing the title by one stroke.

“Coming in second last year was an honor. I want to continue that into this year,” Blyth said.

This week, Crag Burn will be setup at 7,066 yards to a par of 72. Speaking on the difficult Rent Trent Jones course, Blyth said, “I know this course is hard. I came up here the last couple weeks just preparing. I tried to keep the golf course in front of me and be patient out there. All in all, I thought it was a pretty good round.”

Ritchie converted an eagle on 13, a 477-yard par-4 as well as two birdies to finish in the red. Speaking on his round today, Ritchie said, “The back nine played well. I hit a lot of greens; I kept the ball in play. On the front nine, the wind picked up, so I just tried to keep the ball in play and keep the mistakes limited.”

Keegan played in the afternoon wave, when the wind began to pick up. In order to deal with mother nature, the 2017 NYS Men’s Mid-Am Champion focused on keeping the ball in play.

“We spent a lot of time looking for balls in our group, but we weren’t looking for mine. My strategy was to hit as many fairways as I could. I focused on keeping the ball in play, no three-putts, and keeping it out of the wind. Hopefully, the wind lays down in the morning tomorrow and we can get what the guys had this morning,” Keegan said.

Five players sit at two-over 74, including Tony Hejna of the home course, Evan Clarke of Stafford Country Club, Prescott Butler of Piping Rock Club, Adrian Norford of Willowbrook Golf Club, and Kevin VandenBerg of Tuscarora Golf Club.

66 players broke 80 and are still in the hunt for the Ganson Depew Cup.

On Wednesday, players will remain in the same pairings with tee times flipped between the morning and afternoon waves. Additionally, any groups who began on the first hole will begin on the tenth tomorrow and vice versa.

A lot could change over the next three rounds of stroke play at Crag Burn. Live hole-by-hole scoring for the entire field will be available throughout the entire championship on NYSGA.org.

After Wednesday’s second round, a 36-hole cut will be applied, and the low 40 players and ties, as well as anyone within ten strokes of the leader will remain in the field for the final two rounds on Thursday. The field will be repaired based on scores for the final 36 holes, with pairings remaining the same through the finish.

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