Leading money winner Seamus Power took full advantage of perfect conditions to fire a course-record 64 to take a four-shot lead into the last two rounds of the eGolf Professional Tour's fifth annual Championship at St. James Plantation.
The West Waterford man, a winner already this year, is seeking his fourth win on the circuit at the Jack Nicklaus track.
The former East Tennessee State star struggled to an opening 71 but stormed through the field on Thursday at the Reserve Club at St. James and
“I was kind of struggling hitting it yesterday, so I worked on things on the range afterwards, just trying to soften the transition move,” said the 27-year-old. “It made a big difference and gave me a positive feel, and I just went from there.”
Starting day two on the opening nine at the Jack Nicklaus-designed Reserve Club, Power posted birdies at the third, fourth and seventh to go out in three under.
“I knew the course would play easier today, especially with no breeze. I knew I’d be able to go at some pins,” said Power. “I was able to make a few putts early on.”
A birdie at the par-5 12th pushed Power even further into the red at 4-under for the day, but it was a strong finish over his final four holes that solidified the record-setting effort.
At the narrow par-4 15th, the Irishman overcame an approach left short and left with a chip-in birdie to a tough back hole location that took him to 5-under for the round. At 16, Power laced a 4-iron tee shot to 2 feet before adding a third straight birdie with a two-putt on the par-5 17th.
On the tee of the par-4 finishing hole, Power caught a left fairway bunker, but still managed to put his second shot just 15 feet from the hole.
When he rolled in the closing birdie, he was left with a 31 on his inward nine and an 8-under 64 on the day – eclipsing the prior course record by one shot.
Power’s 2014 campaign on the eGolf Tour began in stellar fashion, with back-to-back top-5s at both the Palmetto Hall Championship and Championship at Callawassie Island giving way to career win No. 3 at the Cowans Ford Open.
The win brought Power’s 2014 earnings to $21,364, good for first on the eGolf Tour money list. More importantly, the win ended a 21-month winless drought, dating back to the 2012 Spring Creek Classic – the second of two victories in a breakthrough season of sorts.
Looking to keep his hot streak intact, the former Buccaneer standout was forced to sit idle with the tour taking a week off before trekking to the North Carolina coast for this week’s event.
“I took a couple of days off after the win, didn’t do much. I love playing – I’d play 52 weeks a year if I could, especially when you’re playing well,” he said. “It’s nice to have the good feelings in your head. But, the week off also gives you time to rest, especially coming into a tough golf course like this.”
One of the most demanding venues on the eGolf Tour rotation, the Reserve Club requires a player’s full attention. Year in and year out, the winner is most often the player that can reach 8-under par by week’s end while avoiding a complete catastrophe on the tree- and hazard-lined layout.
“My first couple of years here, I didn’t play it great. Then I played well last year and figured a few things out,” said Power, who offset missed cuts in his first two starts with a T11 in the event’s 2013 edition. “You have to hit it real well off the tee as it’s kind of an intimidating course. There are a lot of tee shots where you have to pick a club and hit it to a spot. So I’m thinking my way off the tee a little better.”
The 64 was Power’s sixth round of 64 or better on the eGolf Tour dating back to the end of the 2011 season, with three of those rounds coming in at 62, including another course record at the Patriot Golf Club in 2012. The likeable kid from across the pond has zero fear of going low, and more than cements that notion far too often.
“For some reason, I’ve always been able to shoot low scores when I get going. My problems have come when I’m off, my score tends to be a little higher than it really should be,” he said. “I’m very comfortable once I get under par, and I start to trust my feelings that much more. There’s no real secret, I just trust it and go.”