SPRINGFIELD, Ohio — It had nothing to do with his inexperience. Jamie Sadlowski said it had everything to do with his inability to execute.
“We had a gameplan and I knew that you’re supposed to keep it below the hole, but I didn’t do it,” Sadlowski said. “So, I struggled.”
A remarkable talent who is taking seriously this effort to transition from long-drive phenom to competitive golfer, Sadlowski had a rough morning (77) of U.S. Open sectional qualifying on devilish Donald Ross greens at Springfield Country Club. In possession of far too much power to let it rip at the 6,684-yard layout, Sadlowski primarily used irons off the tees, “but had it going left and that bothers me,” he said.
Of the three times he did hit driver, two of those went wide left, too. The first one came at the 506-yard, par-5 fifth, but from the middle of the sixth fairway he hit a shot up and over trees from about 180 yards to set up a two-putt birdie.
His only other birdie came at the par-3 16th when he shrewdly left his tee shot below the hole. We’re being funny here, because Sadlowski’s tee shot hit the front of the green and spun off, so he cooly pitched it in from 60 feet.
“But it was one of the few times I was below the hole,” he laughed.
Unfortunately, his three-putt bogeys (three) outnumbered his birdie output and two double-bogeys coming in (par-4 15th, par-5 17th) put a real damper on his morning.
Not that it offered any consolation, but it was not the easiest of conditions, even if the course is short. Only five players broke par in the morning — golf instructor Patrick Wilkes-Krier shot 66, amateur Kyle Mueller had 68, while Zac Blair, Brian Stuard and Kyle English all had 69s.
Tony Finau, who shot 66-67 to make it out of this site last year, birdied the par-4 18th to shoot 70, but it was a rough finish for playing competitor Troy Merritt. After hitting each of the first 10 greens, Merritt went bogey, bogey, bogey, then double-bogeyed the par-4 18th to shoot 72. And he had been 3 under through seven, no less.
Fortunately, lunch was being served, so players welcomed the break between rounds. What they had already figured out was that the swirling winds were only going to get stronger, greens were surely going to get drier and keeping the ball below the hole was certainly about to take on a greater importance.
But as Sadlowski indicated, knowing what to do and doing what you know are two entirely different things.