Garrett Burgess got what he calls his “magical” putter out of the water, too. But like so many marriages made in heaven, this one, has lost its magic.
Burgess fired another even-par round at the 95th Men’s State Amateur at FarmLinks Golf Club on Friday, good enough to make the cut by three strokes. While some would be happy — at least 88 golfers who didn’t make the cut, including seven locals — Burgess’ goals are higher, up among those who earning their living on the links.
“I’ve gotten to the point now, I’m not going to qualify,” said Burgess, who has been exempt for three years. “I’d better finish in the (tournament’s) top 25 or top 30 in (series) points.
“I don’t consider really trying to qualify. I feel like I’m good enough I don’t have to. Hoping I don’t have to again.”
Currently, Burgess stands just one shot out of the top 25, the exemption line. But with the way he has been putting, he knows how hard that one stroke can be to capture.
After hitting 17 greens in regulation on Thursday and performing close to the same on Friday, it was his flat stick of three years that failed him. Burgess had three three-putts on Thursday and four on Friday.
“It’s been an ongoing affair for me,” Burgess said of his putting. “It doesn’t really matter how I hit the ball, I’m still going to shoot about the same, because I’m lacking in that department right now.”
Burgess started using the putter, a $2,500 hand-crafted Scotty Cameron, in 2008 after his friends fished it out of the lake at Willow Point, where it was deposited by then-Auburn senior Patton Kizzire after a frustrating three-putt in the State Amateur.
After winning a tournament shortly after putting the club in his bag — and plenty more since — Burgess described the club as “unbelievable.” His words were close to the same on Friday, but in an entirely different context.
“I’m going to dig around in my bag see if I can manage any better,” he said. “It can’t get any worse.”
Burgess said he’d contemplated making the change before Friday’s round but then thought better of it, fearing the change might cause him to miss the cut.
But after Friday, “I’m at the point I’m going to have to. I can’t survive any longer. Hopefully if I use something new, it’ll be a new look and things will start falling in for me.”
Things were a mix of better and worse for other local golfers on Friday.
After shooting an even-par round on Thursday, Birmingham Southern golfer and Donoho product Miller Stephens failed to make the cut. He carded an 86 with eight bogeys and three doubles.
Ott Chandler improved one stroke with an even-par 72 to become the only other local to continue on to the weekend. Chandler carded a birdie and an eagle on the front, but a double-bogey on the par 3, 17th keeps him from negative numbers.
Jaylon Ellison, Frank Toland, Adam Sanders and Brian Woodfin all improved in Friday’s round. Ellison made up five strokes (149), Toland six (160), Sanders six (162) and Woofin seven (169).
First-round leader and ex-Jacksonville State player Hunter Hawkins dropped two strokes and was caught by Vestavia Hills’ Smylie Kaufman. Both are tied for the lead at 11-under.
Without a feasible chance to win the tournament, Burgess promised to let it all hang out the next two days, not matter what putter ends up in his hands.
“I may shoot anywhere from 85 to 65,” he said. “I’ve reached the point, if it doesn’t get any better, I may just play for giggles.”
Bran Strickland is the sports editor for The Star. He can be reached at 256-235-3570 or follow him on Twitter @bran_strickland.