Seabolt Makes Afternoon Push To Take Lead After Two Rounds Of Northeast Amateur

From RIGA Blog

By Paul Kenyon

EAST PROVIDENCE – When he is in school, Zach Seabolt does not get many opportunities to compete against the big names in college golf. The Winthrop University Eagles do not travel in the same circles as LSU, Texas, Southern Cal and the other power schools in the NCAA.

This week, though, the school name on the golf bags at the 54th Northeast Amateur at Wannamoisett Country Club do not matter, so Seabolt is on equal footing with everyone else. And he is showing what a small college star can do.

Seabolt put together a sparkling 4-under-par 65 on Thursday to vault into the lead at the tournament’s midway point at 5-under 133. The scoreboard is squeezed together more so than any year in recent memory, with19 players jammed within four strokes of Seabolt.
Still, all the guys from the power schools are looking up at Seabolt, who had five birdies against only one bogey on the second straight beautiful day for scoring at the par-69 Donald Ross-designed course.

Seabolt, who is from Raleigh, N.C., just finished an outstanding sophomore year at Winthrop, so strong that Golfweek named him to the third-team All-America squad. He won three tournaments and finished in the top 10 in nine of the 12 events in which his team took part. Seabolt expressed pride in playing at Winthrop.

“We play some tournaments that have one or two big schools in it, but not every tournament like they get to play each other every week, so this is fun,” he said. “It shows them that small schools can play as well.”

He is not unhappy about his choice to attend the school in Rock Hill, S.C.

“I’d do the same thing, the exact same thing,” he said. “It’s doing well for me, so I can’t complain.”

Seabolt, who was among the late starters, described his 65 as a “pretty clean round. I was looking at the scores this morning and I saw they were pretty low so I knew the course would be getable out there. So I took my chances when I could.”
“I didn’t hit many fairways, but I putted pretty well,” he added. Every one of his five birds came on putts inside 20 feet.

Four more college stars were one off the pace. They included Taylor Funk, the first-round leader, his Texas teammate Scotty Scheffler, Auburn’s Michael Johnson and Nick Voke, an Iowa State star by way of New Zealand.

Funk had one of the day’s most unusual rounds. The son of PGA and Champions Tour star Fred Funk had to call on grit as much as talent. The 19-year-old dealt with a similar issue that so many have faced through the years. He had to sleep on the lead for the first time in a national event and deal with all the attention that brings. Typically, players in such situations tend to struggle the day after.

Funk did, at least at the start. He bogeyed the first hole, then double-bogeyed the 505-yard par-4 second.

“I hit good shots, just chose the wrong club,” he related. Quickly, he was out of the lead and battling to survive. He did not hit a green in regulation until the seventh, yet he scrambled and managed to par three through six.

He not only kept his composure, he used outstanding putting to birdie 7, 9, 10 and 11. A double bogey on 14, where he drove into the water, set him back, but he kept dropping putts and put up a 70 to stand at 4-under for the tournament. He needed only 23 putts on the day.

He was not the only one putting well on the Wannamoisett greens, which were measured by superintendant Mark Daniels at 13 on the STIMP meter before play.

Johnson had a similar day. He had the day’s low score, a 64, even though he was not especially pleased with the way he hit the ball.

“I can guarantee you there are guys out there today who hit the ball better than I did,” he said. “I just kind of went along and made two-putt pars. Then, when I was able to hit it close, 10 feet and in, I made every putt except the last one I had.”

Johnson had five birdies, including three in a row beginning at 10, and did not make a bogey. His only disappointment was missing a short birdie putt on 18.

Voke followed his opening 65 with a 69 that came despite consecutive bogeys at 2, 3 and 4. He had one other bogey and four birds to finish even par on the day. Voke is 20 but already has played all over the world. The New Zealand native was a ranked junior player and thrilled to be recruited by Iowa State. He has put together two solid years there and has mixed in competing in a tournament in China, as well.

“I love it,” he said of his experience at Iowa State. “I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else.”
Scheffler, the US Junior Champion two years ago, is now a star at Texas who is being heralded as a potential super star. He took his second straight 67 in stride, saying like so many of the others at the top of the scoreboard, that he did not hit the ball especially well but kept his score down with excellent putting.