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Local golf: Brown sets qualifying pace with 69 at City Golf

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Adam Brown has competed in the City Men’s Golf Championships enough times to understand that what you shoot during qualifying doesn’t necessarily determine whether you make it to next weekend’s semifinals and finals at the end of a grueling week of match play.

But the 2005 city champion does believe that you can set yourself up for a strong finish, and gain confidence along the way, with solid play during the 18-hole qualifier that sets the championship flight field of 32.

Playing solidly from tee to green and making just enough putts, Brown carded a 3-under-par 69 Saturday at Ives Hill Country Club to top the 54-man field in qualifying for the 2013 championships.

Brown, who also finished runner-up in 2010, earned the No. 2 seed for match play and takes on No. 31 T.J. Penn in today’s first round.

Defending and five-time champion John Bufalini took the automatic No. 1 seed and drew No. 32 Brendan Laverty in his first match beginning this morning at 8.

It took an 83 to make the championship flight. And the scoring was surprisingly good on an Ives Hill layout that was playing quite long because of all the recent rain and with the greens getting faster by the day.

“All you really hope to do is play a solid round and make the championship flight,’’ said Brown, the South Jefferson teacher and golf coach who shot nines of 2-under-par 34 and 1-under-par 35. “I had been playing pretty well coming in, but you never really know how you will play in this event. I have no complaints today because I struck the ball well, hit a lot of solid irons and made the putts on I needed to make.’’

Brown actually began a little shakily, having to get up and down to save pars on the opening three holes.

But he hit the par-5 fourth hole in two and two-putted for a birdie, then rebounded from his lone front-side bogey on the long par-4 fifth hole to make a nice, 3-foot birdie putt on the 190-yard, par-3 eighth hole.

Brown hit his second shot to a foot and a half on the difficult, par-4 12th hole to make birdie. He also birdied the reachable par-5 13th hole, then birdied the 18th hole after making just his second bogey on the 17th hole.

Eleven-time winner Bob Hughes put his name squarely in the mix for another crown by shooting an even-par 72 (38-34) to finish second to Brown in qualifying. That including a stroke penalty incurred for a lost ball in the hazard on No. 9.

“The first nine I actually hit the ball better,’’ Hughes said. “But I really struggled with the driver after that poor tee shot on nine and somehow got it around in 2-under on the back side.’’

Hughes began his back side with a standout birdie-2 on the 10th hole and birdied 13 and 14. But he bogeyed 15 and three-putted 17 for a bogey before finishing well with a birdie-3 on the last.

“I’ve been playing and practicing a little bit more than the previous few years, so that makes a difference, especially on the tougher shots,’’ Hughes said.

Hughes plays Shane Smith in his opening match.

Shooting 1-over-par 73s were 2009 champion James Ambrose and Paul Ahlgrim.

Ambrose plays Frontier League champion Pearce Parsons out of South Jefferson, while Ahlgrim is matched against Mike Donnelly.

“I had a lot of trouble judging the speed of the greens,’’ said Ahlgrim, who three-putted five times. “They are really rolling out and I kept hitting the ball way past the hole.’’

Tim Phillips, who captured the County Seniors’ Championship last weekend at Willowbrook Golf Club, shot a fine 74 and meets Jim Nevers in today’s first round.

Former champion Joe Tufo, and collegians Shawn Thomas and George LaBarr carded 75s.

Jefferson Community College’s Chadd Call, who won the Region 3 junior college title this spring, shot 76, and former champion Toby Draper, Jeff Fallon and Joel Baily each shot 77.


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