ALLENDALE, Mich. -- After playing a practice round at The Meadows on Sunday, in anticipation of the NCAA II men's national championships being played through Friday on the campus of Grand Valley State, Harry Wetton predicted that no golfer would break par this week.
Wetton, who is a freshman at Western New Mexico, made a liar of himself Tuesday morning, in the second round.
Wetton, 19, who lives in Bedford, England, fired a 1-under 70 Tuesday morning, in a round that featured five birdies and four bogeys. He posted a 3-over 73 in Monday's opening round. Mitch Farrer of Nova Southeastern recorded the only sub-par round Monday, a 1-under 70.“The biggest difference between today and yesterday was patience,” Wetton said. “Yesterday I struggled around the last four holes.” That might be a bit of an understatement as Wetton, who started his opening round on No. 10, carded nothing but 5s on those final four holes, and while No. 9 is a par-5, No. 7 is a par-3. “I had four 5s to finish yesterday and today I holed a few six-footers. I played some golf today, finally. “
Wetton said The Meadows reminds him of his home course in Bedford. “You have to be straight off the tee, just like at home,” he said. “If you hit the fairways you have a chance to make birdie, but if you don't you struggle to make par.”
The intensity of that struggle depends on how badly one misses the fairway. “There are three different cuts of rough out here,” Wetton said. “If you miss in the second or third cut, you struggle to find your golf ball.
“Coming off the practice round, I though that no one would be under par,” added Wetton, who started his second round on No. 1. “Today I started out different than yesterday.” Wetton birdied two of his first four holes Monday, and whole he also birdied two of the first four Tuesday, he also bogeyed three of the first five. He had only two pars on the front nine.
“I spray it around a bit,” he said. “but I'm good around the greens, and the greens here are identical to how they are back home. It is so nice to find greens that are really true. When I first got [to WNMU] I struggled to break 80, but Coach [Kent Beatty] got me to stop hitting a 30-yard draw. I have always putted well and chipped well, but now I can hit a lit of knock-down shots, and you have to make those to score well here.”
Wetton is yet to declare his major but, at least for now, he is leaning toward business management. “I'm learning where to miss it out here,” he said. “You can't miss the greens long here. Thinking sensibly is a key on this golf course and I like to think I have a brain between my ears.”
The Western New Mexico Mustangs were 16th in the field of 20 teams following a team total 312 in Monday's opening round, although they did trim 14 strokes off that total in Tuesday's second round. “Coming into the tournament we felt that we were ready,” Wetton said. “We had really good preparation but after two days, we're struggling. Some of our guys are struggling around the greens, in the long rough.”