Sage Valley: No. 2 wallops Junior Invitational field
GRANITEVILLE, S.C. -– By the time the marquee group arrived at Sage Valley’s second hole on Friday morning, there already was a three-group backup. The hole – downhill over water to a small green surrounded by pine straw – can be a monster. Add a stiff, head-on wind, and the second tee became a parking lot.
The hole, which played about 185 yards on Thursday, averaged nearly a stroke over par for the 54-man field. That included one sextuple bogey, four quadruple bogeys, three triple bogeys and seven doubles. Only six players made birdie.
One of those quadruple bogeys belonged to Kristoffer Ventura, an 18-year-old from Oslo, Norway, who plays only three stateside events per year. Ventura, in his first trip around Sage Valley since Wednesday, pulled a 6-iron for his tee shot but dumped it in the water. He went to the drop area with a wedge, but put that ball in the water, too.
“It was probably the wrong club, but I hit a bad shot,” Ventura said of that 6-iron shot. Walking off the second green, Ventura knew there were many holes left to play, but was just hoping for some pars to salvage the round. Starting at No. 8, however, Ventura birdied seven of the next eight holes. His four-birdie stretch between Nos. 12-15 ties the longest birdie stretch of his career.
The second hole scarred so many scorecards that players were hardly at a disadvantage unless they had an absolute trainwreck. It happened to a few high-profile players.
Brad Dalke, No. 5 in Golfweek’s Junior Rankings, hit his tee shot long and landed in pine straw. His chip shot landed on the green, but rolled the length of it and went in the water in front of the hole. Dalke went to the drop area, put it to about 7 feet, but missed the putt to make a triple bogey. He finished at 73.
Five groups later, defending champion Zach Olsen pulled his tee shot into pine straw left of the green and also ran his chip through the green into the water. Olsen replayed the shot, but caught this one fat and dumped his ball in bed of bright yellow pansies. He got a free drop into the pine straw, put his chip within 10 feet and then two-putted for a quadruple-bogey on his way to 78.
Greyson Sigg, an Augusta, Ga., local who was in the fourth group off the tee Friday morning, sometimes caddies at Sage Valley and said he wasn’t suprised by all the mayhem at the second.
“It was into the wind when we all went off this morning,” he said. “I think last year there were a couple of 7s, a couple of 8s.”
Then Sigg, in the clubhouse with a 1-under 71, expressed visible relief as he talked about the par he made at No. 2 – no small task even for a local.