By ryan buck
East Palestine native and 2007 Malone College graduate Scotty Jones is competing in the USGA Mid-Amateur Championship at the Country Club of Birmingham, Ala.
The tournament began Saturday with stroke play format to cut the field to 64 players, then shifts to match play for the final four days of the tournament.
Jones opened with a round of 70 and trails co-leaders Todd White, of Spartanburg, S.C., and Kevin Marsh, of Henderson, Nev., by four strokes. They opened with 66s.
Jones competed in the 2006 U.S. Public Links Championship and the 2007 US Amateur Championship, but this event is new.
“I’ve never played there or been there,” Jones said of the course. Hitting the ball straight and being able to hit short irons into the greens will be so important and that kind of control is key in these tournaments.”
Before his drive south, Jones did the best he could to scout the course and the challenges.
“I’ve been driving well,” he said. “I know the course it pretty long and having spoken with a (Country Club of Birmingham) member, I know they’ve let the rough grow and it will be long.”
Now married with a growing family, finding the time to play golf is more difficult.
“Not being able to play or practice like I want to, the game sort of comes and goes,” Jones said.
Regardless, he’s bringing a piece of home with him. Jones’ father will be caddying for him.
“It’ll be a good time,” Jones said. “It’s a fantastic event. They treat you like gold, as players.”
Jones tees off today at 12:35 p.m. on the 10th hole of the facility’s east course.
He qualified by winning the local qualifier two weeks ago at Winding Hollow Golf Club in New Albany, shooting a 2-under 70 for his round.
The U.S. Mid-Amateur is the USGA event designated for post-college golfers who will not pursue a professional golf career.