Woodmont hosts qualifier for U.S. Public Links
by Emily Horos
ehoros@cherokeetribune.com
June 12, 2013 12:22 AM | 1684 views | 0 0 comments | 21 21 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Former Woodstock High School golfer Randy White led all Cherokee County players, but he was unable to qualify out of Tuesday’s U.S. Amateur Public Links qualifier at Woodmont Golf Club. White’s two-round 146 fell seven shots behind the last of three players who did move on to the prestigious amateur event in Lorton, Va.
<BR>Staff photo by Kelly J. Huff
Former Woodstock High School golfer Randy White led all Cherokee County players, but he was unable to qualify out of Tuesday’s U.S. Amateur Public Links qualifier at Woodmont Golf Club. White’s two-round 146 fell seven shots behind the last of three players who did move on to the prestigious amateur event in Lorton, Va.
Staff photo by Kelly J. Huff
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CANTON — After shooting an afternoon round of 64, Jacob Harper left Woodmont Golf Club early, confident he had secured a spot in next month’s U.S. Amateur Public Links Championship.

Harper, from Valley, Ala., played just three rounds at Woodmont, but improved each time. He played a practice round Monday evening before shooting a 68 in the morning session Tuesday.

His total of 12-under par 132 was good enough for medalist honors in the qualifier for the national event, which will be played July 15-20 in Lorton, Va.

The U.S. Public Links, and its qualifiers, is open to golfers who are members of a public golf course, as opposed to those who have memberships with private country clubs.

Harper, a rising sophomore on the Troy University golf team, said he learned a few things from the practice round that helped him Tuesday, such as green speeds and lines off the tee box.

“I’ve been playing good lately,” he said. “I felt confident. Sixty-four is real good, but the 68 was just OK. I just played my game.”

Harper, a 16-year veteran of the game, made an eagle during each round and had 11 birdies compared to three bogeys.

He said that he doesn’t know what to expect when he gets to Lorton, having never played at this level before.

“I don’t know what to expect,” he said. “I’ve never been to one. I played qualifying last year, the one in Alabama, but this will be new. I shot 71-71 last year and missed it by one.”

Joining Harper in the Washington suburb will be Mark Buchholz and Sam Straka.

Buchholz (136) matched Harper’s scored with a 68 in the first round. He followed with another 68 to place second.

The Cumming resident, is better known for his kicking leg than his golf swing. Buchholz was a member of the soccer and football teams at Clemson.

Buchholz, who has only been playing competitive golf for two years, said he became friends with several members of the Clemson golf team, who introduced him to the game.

“I picked up the game at Clemson,” he said. “I was good friends with the golf guys there. I picked it up and became hooked. I’ve played in a couple of events, but I haven’t been able to put it all together in any of the tournaments. (On Tuesday), I felt like I did that. I could have gone a little lower, particularly in the morning round.”

Buchholz said Tuesday was a long day, but it felt good.

“It was a grind coming down the last nine, but I can’t be happier with how I played,” he said.

Having played the course several times, Buchholz said he felt comfortable, particularly with the par-3s.

“I played those really well (Tuesday),” he said. “Being comfortable on the par-3s is a huge difference as far as knowing the course and knowing what you hit when the wind is doing this. I had a lot of birdies opportunities out there (Tuesday).”

Buchholz finished the day with 11 birdies and just three bogeys.

Straka needed a playoff in order to qualify. With three golfers tied at 139, Straka, Kelby Burton and Scott Wolfes began a playoff on No. 1.

Straka was the only one to birdie the hole, advancing him to championship.

Straka, a Georgia golfer who was there was his twin brother, Sepp, a U.S. Public Links qualifier a year ago, birdied No. 1 each of the three times he played it.

“I’m happy I won it quickly,” Sam Straka said. “I’ve been a little bit snake-bit in playoffs the last couple of years, so this was good.”

Burton and Wolfes, college players at Kennesaw State and Georgia Southern, respectively, continued the playoff before it was determined that Burton would be the first alternate.

Former Woodstock High School golfer Randy White shot 146 to lead the local entrants. Creekview product Jared O’Kelley shot 149, Woodstock grad Will Brackett shot 155 and Sequoyah product Nick Vogel carded 162.

Other local participants included Craig McKinney (160), Ryan Morley-Stockton (156) and Peter Cousins (167).
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