Rule starts strong at Georgia Amateur Championship

mlough@macon.comJuly 10, 2014 

ga_amateur

Steve Davis of Rome sizes up his putt through drizzle on the 18th green during first round play of the Georgia Amateur Championship at Idle Hour Club. Jarod Trammell, right, of Jasper was marking his ball.

BEAU CABELL — bcabell@macon.com Buy Photo

There’s something to be said for a home-course advantage. And there’s plenty to be said for just being a good player.

Put the two together, and it equals a 5-under-par 65 for Trey Rule in the first round Thursday of the 93rd Georgia Amateur Championship at Idle Hour Club.

“I play here a lot, and I’m just comfortable on this course,” said Rule, who will be a senior at Mercer this fall. “I knew it was going to be a tough day with the rain and everything. It was just a solid day. I was just staying patient, obviously, making a few putts here and there.”

The A-Sun player of the year is off to a good start in trying to win his first appearance in the Georgia Amateur. Rule, who helped the Mercer to its first NCAA tournament appearance in program history in May, was solid throughout the day in taking a three-stroke lead.

“I was just keeping the ball in play, making a couple 10-footers here and there,” said Rule, whose teammate Emmanuel Kountakis is tied for 29th. “Just one shot at a time, staying focused and staying confident.”

Kathleen’s Shawn Hodge is among four players tied for second, joined by Jake O’Bryan, Will Chandler and Seth Sweet.

Rule is continuing the good play that won him the Dogwood Invitational last month in Atlanta. The Gatewood product escaped the first day at Idle Hour with no bogeys, five birdies and 13 pars. Rule was part of the afternoon group in the 144-player field, but he’ll be among the first to tee off on Friday.

Twenty-eight players are at even or under par.

The par-4 466-yard No. 17 hole wasn’t a favorite by the end of the first round with 51 bogeys -- one less than No. 18 -- and 14 double-bogeys -- eight more than No. 18.

Hodge survived No. 17.

“I made a really good par,” he said, clearly happy to relive the hole. “I hit it in the woods, punched it out from under a tree; I had to half swing. Then got it up-and-down from about 70 yards.

“That was a positive little kick there.”

Hogan Kaney was rolling along with a nice round and had the lead in the first group, at 2 under for a spell. But then came Nos. 17 and 18, and Hogan fell back with a pair of double-bogeys, going from first to 18th after the morning action and tied for 42nd by the end the day at 72.

O’Bryan started on No. 10 and gained a stroke with one of the eight birdies of the round on No. 18. Sweet started on the first hole and was even through nine, parred No. 17 and birdied No. 18 and tied with O’Bryan, thanks to 14 pars and one double-bogey.

Then came the second wave of players and some better scores.

Chad Wilson charged out into the lead with a 3 under on the front nine, with Rule, Christian Humber and Zane Goldthorp not far behind, all under par through the first nine.

Wilson was 4 under after 13.

“From there, I just didn’t hit it well,” said Wilson, an assistant coach at Kennesaw State.

Wilson got bit on Nos. 17 and 18 with a pair of bogeys that helped his fall from 4 under after 13 holes to 1 under for the round.

“I’m a little upset with the way I finished, because I was 4 under with not that many holes left,” said Wilson, joined by Humber in the group tied for sixth four shots back. “The golf course will separate the good shots from the bad shots real quick. It doesn’t let you get away with too much.”

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