Day 1 of World Amateur Handicap Championship 2016

Myrtle Beach hosts another year of competition, food, fun and excitement

Second in a series of daily first-person stories from the 33rd Myrtle Beach World Amateur Handicap Championship – the world’s largest golf tournament.

By TONY LEODORA

What are the odds, in a field of 3,100 players, I would wind up in the same flight with Jamie McWilliams, the producer who works with me on the Traveling Golfer television show?

And what are the odds, in a flight of 50 players, we would be paired in the same foursome?

The good news is that I played alongside someone with whom I was familiar on the 7-hour first day marathon – 5 ½ hours of play and a 1 ½ hour rain delay. The better news was that the other fellow competitors in my foursome were excellent company.

And the best news was that we were playing the Greg Norman course at Barefoot Resort – one of the premier courses on the Grand Strand.

The first day of the World Amateur Handicap Championship was a long one – and a bizarre one. At least from my point of view.

I had one of the great Jekyl-Hyde rounds of my golf career. I had two birdies – one of which held up for a skin, and a $232 payout from the skin pool. But I also had an inexplicable 9.

I also had seven one-putt greens – combining for a total of about 75 feet of putts on the round. But I countered that display of brilliance with five three-putts.

Val Dowling, retired Air Force and seven more years of service as a prison guard, led our foursome with an 85. Val from Valdosta closed strong and, for most of his round, managed to stay out of trouble.

My schizophrenic 86 was second in the group and placed me at a mediocre tie-for-24th place in the flight.

David Wade, an operator for Marathon Petroleum in Dickinson, Texas, also finished strong for an 87.

McWilliams struggled through an uncharacteristically wild-swinging round and posted a 95.

Gene Patterson recorded a 74 to lead the flight by three shots … and he is undoubtedly under the watch of the handicap patrol.

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