Timely birdie at the last earns Orlando’s Andrew Arft a two-shot lead after second round of Jamaica Open Golf Championship
American Andrew Arft was a happy man after he and his caddie accurately negotiated a 20-foot birdie putt on the 18th green to close out the second round of the 56th Jamaica Open Golf Championship with a two-shot lead on Monday.
Although the wind was not as strong as it was for the opening round at Tryall Club in Hanover, just outside Montego Bay, the players were challenged by some tricky pin positions and Arft offset three birdies with three bogeys on his way to a even-par 72.
That left him at 6-under 138 after 36 holes, two strokes clear of compatriots Ryan Sullivan, who fired a best-of-the-day 66, and three ahead of Josh Anderson, who carded a 72.
Arft, who plays out of Casselberry near Orlando, began the day three ahead after opening with a 66 and he was content enough after fighting back from a rough start on Monday. The 27-year-old shrugged off bogeys at the first and second and went on to birdie the seventh and eighth before reaching the turn in level 37. Although he dropped another shot at the par-4 16th, where he three-putted, he finished his round in style by sinking that 20-footer at the par-4 last.
“The fact that I was able to kind of steady the ship and make a nice 20-footer on the last hole for birdie really just made the day,” said Arft, who arrived in Jamaica on Saturday and saw very little of the course before the opening round. “I am in a similar position I was in this morning and that’s all I can ask for.”
Arft broke into a broad grin as he described how he rebounded from his bogey on 16 with that birdie on 18.
“I just made a bad three-putt on 16 and then I didn’t hit too good a wedge shot on 18,” he said. “I was just walking up to the green with my caddie, Jason, and I said, ‘Hey, I need the best read of the day right here, right now,’ and he said, ‘I need the best putt of the day right now.’ And I said, ‘Okay,’ and we kind of put it together and made it happen!”
Asked to assess course conditions on a day when the wind was down, Arft replied: “I don’t think it affected it too much. The pins were a little more difficult today so it was good that the breeze was down because the scores could have been a little tougher. It’s a tough test of golf here and I was not able to shoot the round that I did on the front side like I did yesterday, but even par on the back will always get you moving up the leaderboard.”
Sullivan, who resides in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, and is affiliated to Tanglewood Country Club in Clemmons, was delighted to bounce back from a roller-coaster 74 on Sunday that included three triple-bogeys and six birdies.
The 34-year-old who was born in Atlanta produced sparkling form over the front nine with four birdies in the first seven holes to reach the turn in 4-under 33.
He picked up further shots at the 11th and 12th and, despite running up his only bogey of the day at the par-4 16th, he birdied 17 on the way to a 6-under round.
“It’s always good to finish in the sixties at Tryall Golf Club,” said Sullivan. “I was a little disappointed after yesterday’s finish. My form has been good coming into this week so last night I just had to tell myself we can take the golf course back and, sure enough, I was able to attack the first 12, 13 holes today.
“It was a little easier because the wind was down and obviously that makes the last four or five holes a little bit more scoreable. I didn’t necessarily conquer the last five holes but we did better than we did yesterday. It was nice to come up flush today because where I was going into the day, I knew I needed to move up the leaderboard to have a chance for tomorrow. So now that I have at least done that, I’ve got an opportunity to play well again tomorrow and see how that stacks up.”
Only eight players in the professional field of 32 got into red numbers for Monday’s round, and among those was Jamaican Wesley Brown who returned a 71 to end the day in seventh place at even 144.
Two very promising Jamaican amateurs had turned professional on the eve of the championship and they experienced contrasting fortunes on Monday. Sebert Walker Jr. carded a 1-over 73 to share 18th place at 6-over while Justin Burrowes struggled to a 78 to occupy 29th spot at 16-over.