EAST PROVIDENCE – Regrets? Every golfer has some upon the round’s conclusion.
The ones that Jamison Randall expressed followed his one-over 70 performance on Day 1 of the Northeast Amateur Invitational didn’t equate to the Cumberland lad singing the blues. Had the golf gods been kinder, perhaps Randall’s Wednesday score would have been closer to the low number Brazil’s Rafael Becker posted – a minus-seven 62 that featured an eye-popping eight birdies.
“I played real solid; it was just one of those rounds that ended up being a 70, but it could have been a 65 or 66 if I got some breaks and some putts fell,” Randall expressed. “I got some bad breaks out there, but I’m confident that it’ll come around (Thursday) if I hit it the same way.”
Competing in his first-ever Northeast, Randall kicked off his round on the 10th hole at Wannamoisett Country Club. He cleared his version of the front nine at even par, mixing in a bogey at the par-three, 211-yard 12th hole with a par on 18, a par-four, 456-yard hole.
“On 12, I left the putt way short, about 10-12 feet,” said Randall. “By (holes) 15 and 16, I was adjusting to the speed of the greens. I was also able to figure out my driver midway through the round. Something about my alignment, I was able to fix it.
“That’s what it’s all about, adjusting.”
Randall remained at even par through 13 holes before shooting a five on the par-four, 372-yard fifth. He parred the final four holes to end up as one of 10 golfers to shoot 70, which translates into a pretty congested tie for 16th place.
“I’m really confident,” beamed Randall when asked to look ahead to Thursday’s 8:08 a.m. tee time. “It’s been a while since my game has been this good. Everything is starting to come together. I’m hitting the ball solid and hitting good putts, but they just didn’t fall today.”
Thanks to Becker, Randall and the rest of the Northeast field has its work cut out. The 22-year-old Becker stands one summer class away from completing his undergraduate requirements at Wichita State, where he captured the individual title at this past April’s Missouri Valley Conference Championship.
The only glaring mistake Becker made during an otherwise spotless round came on his 15th hole, the par-four, 437-yard No. 6. A misfire on his tee shot resulted in a tough lie for his second shot. Navigating what he described “a tricky pin,” the now former Shocker was more than content to come away with a five.
Prior to that, Becker was humming along at an impressive clip. He birdied seven holes during a 10-hole stretch that saw him score in red figures on holes 1-3. His score stood at minus-eight prior to the hiccup on the fifth.
“I thought the key shot was on (the first hole, a par-four, 430-yarder). I hit a good second shot (and) I probably had eight feet left,” Becker shared. “I wanted to keep the ball behind the hole so I could putt more aggressively. My best putt came on three [a par-three, 137-yarder]. I juiced on my nine iron a little bit, but ended up making a 20-footer.”
Becker came to Rhode Island following a 15th-place showing last weekend at the Sunnehanna Amateur in Johnstown, Penn. Earlier this year, he shot a final-round 66 to earn a tie for 26th at the Web.com Tour’s Brasil Champions.
Like Randall, Becker is experiencing the Northeast grind for the first time.
“Last week at Sunnehanna, I had a little trouble staying in the present, which is key for me. It’s going to be key for the whole tournament,” said Becker. “I just tried to play safe all day long and make putts.”
Becker will take a four-shot lead into Thursday’s action. He was also one of 14 players to shoot under par.
Other notables from Wednesday include defending Northeast champ Justin Shin firing a five-over 74. The University of California’s Michael Kim, the low amateur at last week’s U.S. Open played at Merion outside of Philadelphia, also struggled during his opening round, carding a four-over 73 to finish tied for 54th.
Coventry’s Bobby Leopold teed off Wednesday morning and posted the first low number of the day, a three-under 66. He’s part of a four-way tie for second place. Former Toll Gate star Brad Valois posted the same score at fellow Rhode Islander Randall while Bryant University head golf coach Charlie Blanchard seeks to rebound following a plus-10 79.
Follow Brendan McGair on Twitter @BWMcGair03