CNGC‚ÄôS Robinson cruises atop #GAPOpen Qualifier at Woodstone
DANIELSVILLE, Pa. ‚ÄĒ A driver tune-up gave Ron Robinson the ammunition and assurance necessary to navigate Woodstone Country Club & Lodge (par 72, 6,827 yards) Tuesday.
The two-time reigning Harry Hammond Award winner avoided tree trouble on the lavish lumber landscape en route to carving a 1-under-par 71. In doing so, Robinson earned medalist honors and one of 12 qualifying positions and ties available in a Golf Association of Philadelphia Open Championship Qualifier.
The cut line stopped at 79 by day‚Äôs end, with 14 individuals (13 amateurs, one professional) advancing. The 114th Open Championship will take place July 18-19 at St. Davids Golf Club.
‚ÄúI hit the ball off the tee OK, just kept it in between the trees,‚ÄĚ Robinson, 19, of Hatfield, Pa., said. ‚ÄúI gave myself a lot of four, five-footers for par that I luckily made. I was just trying to give myself around 150 yards [for approach shots] in the fairway to be able to attack, which was good.‚ÄĚ
To ensure less tree trouble and more playable approaches, Robinson met with Mike Wheeler at Whitford Country Club last week for an instrumental ball-striking lesson.
‚ÄúWe worked on getting my driver more consistent. I hit two fairways [in the BMW Philadelphia Amateur Qualifier two weeks ago],‚ÄĚ Robinson, a Commonwealth National Golf Club member, said. ‚ÄúThat was what we worked on mostly ‚ÄĒ keeping the ball in between the trees so I could make birdies.‚ÄĚ
Robinson converted five birdies at Woodstone. Sharp sand wedge shots of 145 and 127 yards set up red opportunities of three and 15 feet on Nos. 3 (par 5, 559 yards) and 7 (par 4, 431 yards). Robinson nearly reached the par 5, 483-yard No. 9 with a 4-iron from 210 yards. A chip to two inches made the rising Monmouth University sophomore the only player to turn in red figures Tuesday.
Loose tee shots on Nos. 2 (par 4, 395 yards) and 8 (par 3, 201 yards) framed his frontside bogeys. Robinson also struggled on Nos. 10 (par 4, 410 yards) and 11 (par 4, 414 yards), missing a five-footer for par on the first and splashing a 3-wood into the water on the latter. A heavy pitching wedge on the par 4, 426-yard 12th nearly cast Robinson away from the spotlight. He righted the ship by knocking a wedge 40 yards to five feet for a critical par save.
The burly basher rescued a red round with consecutive birdies to close. The par 5, 503-yard 17th hole mirrored the No. 9 outcome: powerful second shot (3-iron from 240 yards) lands short of the green, ensuing chip to kick-in range. Robinson deposited a 15-footer for birdie on No. 18 (par 4, 430 yards) following a pitching wedge from 140 yards.
Driver consistency aside, Robinson is also recovering from a left wrist injury. He hit a root while playing golf during the winter.
‚ÄúMy game‚Äôs been here and there [as a result]. I‚Äôm starting to get back to 100 percent, which is nice,‚ÄĚ Robinson, a business administration major and education minor at Monmouth, said. ‚ÄúI haven‚Äôt gotten the MRI results back yet. The doctor said I could play golf. He just said, ‚ÄėDon‚Äôt be stupid.‚Äô I can play golf. That‚Äôs all that matters.‚ÄĚ
Making the Championship proper is all that mattered Tuesday. Robinson finished in the Top 25 a year ago at Philadelphia Country Club.
‚ÄúHopefully I can contend this year, which will be nice,‚ÄĚ he said.
Brookside Country Club of Allentown‚Äôs Carlos Fullerton carded a 2-over-par 74 to place second. The Penn State University graduate student played a practice round of sorts over the weekend. Fullerton, 22, of Lower Macungie Township, Pa., finished fourth in the Lehigh Valley Medal Play Championship at Woodstone.
‚ÄúIt gave me an idea of what I was going to do. The tees were the same, the par 3s were the same,‚ÄĚ Fullerton, who captured the Four-Man Team a week ago alongside Max Harrington, Richard Riva and Adam Sutovich, said.
The Golf Association of Philadelphia expanded its Open Championship field to 132 players in 2017. The format remains 36 holes of stroke play. It is contested over two days instead of one ‚ÄĒ a change also made in 2017. A cut to the low 60 and ties takes place after Day One.
Golf Association of Philadelphia