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Fountain Head hosts top players including 7 locals

July 13, 2008|By TIM KOELBLE

When the topic turns to the Maryland Open golf championship, one player who would like to rid the bridesmaid image is Beaver Creek professional Dirk Schultz.

"I hope this will be the week," said Schultz.

The 87th edition of the Open, conducted by the Maryland State Golf Association, begins Monday with 116 players, including seven representing local courses, teeing it up at Fountain Head Country Club. The cut will be made to the low 40 scores and ties following Tuesday's second round.

The local golfers joining Schultz in the field are Ken Lampard and Greg Henry from Beaver Creek; Steve Caron, Alex Hoffman and Don Bachtell from Black Rock; and Brian Boggs, assistant pro from Fountain Head.

Schultz had three great opportunities to win, but there is one that he'll remember for some time.

It came in 1999, when Schultz distanced himself from the field after the first two rounds at Hillendale Country Club before squandering a seven-shot lead and losing by three strokes to Mike Mitchell.

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He came back in 2000 to finish one stroke behind Dennis Winters at Columbia Country Club. In 2004, Schultz lost in a playoff to Chip Sullivan at Country Club of Woodmore.

"I've had two or three really good chances to win," said Schultz. "Hillendale was my best shot at winning. I was standing on my own two feet and then I gave most of the lead back on the first nine holes the last day."

It's a new year and Schultz is ready to bring the trophy to Washington County.

"I'm revved up and no doubt will be (on Monday)," he said.

Fountain Head will play to approximately 6,400 yards, pending the setup by MSGA and will have a par of 70 with the fifth hole becoming a par 4 from 463 yards. Players can expect the primary cut of rough around 2 1/2 inches and the next cut at 3 1/2 inches.

The Donald Ross-designed course has held its own over the years with its rolling fairways and smallish greens, leaving club selection at a premium.

"My game plan will probably be instantaneous depending on the current conditions and how I feel," said Schultz. "Do I play like I always do or go with irons off the tee? I'll wait and see."

Schultz said 15-under par could be the possible winning score if the course is hit with rain before, or during, the tournament, which would make for target shooting at soft, receptive greens.

"Regardless, I think you need to at least be at 3-under each of the first two days," Schultz said.

Lampard has been playing well of late, posting rounds of 68-69 in a recent Baltimore tournament.

"I've played well and want to work off those rounds," said Lampard. "I enjoy the course and it's respected as a old course. The course is not long, but that's not to be taken as being an easy course. It has its reputation."

Henry says Fountain Head is "one of my two or three favorite courses. I'm looking forward to a good week.

"I've had some good rounds recently and when I am confident I always play good," he said. "You've got to really be on with the short game and on the greens."

Boggs said he thinks playing on his home course will be worth some strokes.

"I think it can be up to three strokes a day, knowing where to stay below the hole, the layout of the course, but you still have to go out and play golf," said Boggs. "I'm playing well, putting better than ever, and think I can win it around 3-under."

Caron may not have the same warm-and-fuzzy feeling as he gets ready for his third Open.

"I haven't had too much success at Fountain Head being a grip-it and rip-it player," said Caron. "I've been working on 2-irons and the biggest thing is to keep it in the fairway. If I have my drives working, I'll score like being on any other course."

Bachtell will be playing in his third Open at Fountain Head.

"It's a good course. It suits my type of game and it was good enough to qualify for the Open, so I'm looking forward to it," said Bachtell. "You've got to be straight, and I think I am."

Hoffman will be one of two 16 year olds in the Open. The other is Sean Bosdosh, playing out of Holly Hills.

"I want to make it all three days. That's my goal," said Hoffman, who won the Tri-State Junior event at FHCC earlier this year with a 75.

"The white tees are not that far off from what the Open tees will be so I'll take some of those experiences into the Open, said Hoffman. "For me, the back nine is tougher. There are some holes you need to definitely take advantage of and get some birdies."

The field will have a strong, competitive flavor.

Three-time champions Wayne DeFrancesco (Woodmont) and Chip Sullivan (Ashely Plantation) are at the top of the list. Jim Estes (Olney Park) and Dave Long (CC Woodmore) both qualified for the PGA Championship in August at Oakland Hills in Bloomfield, Mich. Winters (Nassawango) and Marty Johnson (Redgate) are on the list of contenders.

Sullivan is the reigning national champion of the PGA Club Professionals and recently finished 18th in the Japan PGA Championship.

Notes: Monday's tee times are listed on C2. ... The public is welcome and advised to follow all tournament spectator guidelines. ... This is the sixth time Fountain Head will host the Open. Dean Wilson was the 1997 champion, Fred Funk won in 1987, Dick Whetzel was first in 1969, Jack Isaacs won in 1952 and Fred McLeod won in 1927. ... Former Open champions in the field this week include defending champion Billy Wingerd, Chip Sullivan (2006, 2004, 2002), Wayne DeFrancesco (2005, 1995, 1994), Dennis Winters (2000) and Kirk Lombardi (2003).

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