MOUNT WILLIAM – Practice? Who needs it?
To prepare for the Stanhope Open pro golf tournament this past weekend, Brian Affleck played three practice rounds at his par-3 course at Eagle’s Chance – hitting nothing but wedges – and hit a bucket of balls on the driving range.
At Friday’s pro-am at Stanhope Golf & Country Club, his six-under 66 was the low round of the day.
On Saturday, things got crazier, as he opened the two-day tournament with a 10-under 62, setting a course record and beating his own personal best: a 63 at Glen Lovat Golf Course when he was 17 years old, and another 63 at a course in Florida (the course record at Abercrombie Golf Club is also a 63).
At the P.E.I. course where he first learned to play, Affleck birdied four of the first five holes, eagled the par-4 seventh hole when he holed out from 100 yards, and birdied the ninth to shoot a 7-under on the front. He didn’t have to make many long putts, either: he didn’t have to, because his iron shots were knocking down the flags all day.
“You have to know the course to play it well,” he said of Stanhope. “It’s clover-leaf greens so, you have to have the right angles to the pin or you can’t get it close.”
He birdied holes 12, 17 and 18 on the back nine in the record-setting day.
“The first seven holes at Stanhope are difficult, if you get through them even or under par, you’re on track for a good round there, because the last part of the round can be torn up. When I was holed out on number seven it was like, ‘it’s gonna be a great day’. But I kept the pedal down.”
With a four-shot leading heading into the second round and with Nick Peters trying to chase him down, Affleck parred the first 11 holes before getting two birdies, along with an eagle on the par-five 12th hole. Birdies on 17 and 18 resulted in a 68.
He didn’t make a bogie in all three rounds at Stanhope.
“This year I probably practiced six times, and that’s six more times than I’ve practiced the last five years,” said Affleck, who hopes to enter a few more pro tournaments the rest of the season. “I’ve played 20 rounds of golf so far this year, seven of them competitive rounds. That’s more than I’ve played in the last few years.”