After the first 36 holes of the 89th annual Hoosier Jiffy Print Grant County Amateur, a familiar face found himself, once again, at the top of the pack.
With a 66 (-6) on the tournament’s second day at Arbor Trace, after finishing with a 70 (-2) at the Marion Elks Country Club, eight-time winner Andrew Varner finished the weekend at -8, giving him a one stroke lead heading into the Amateur’s final weekend.
“I never was comfortable [at the Elks,]” Varner said. “I have played that course 5,000 times, but I was never comfortable. I just told my wife [and myself] that I was going to go out there and relax today, and I did. It just seemed easy today.”
Varner finished the day with six birdies, including a pair of impressive chip-ins on the 9th and 16th holes.
“The short game was definitely my strength,” Varner said. “The course was in great shape, so you had to score. I couldn’t put it in the hole [at Elks.] Today, anything I should have done, short-game wise, I did.”
With each passing summer, Varner continues to solidify himself as one of the top performers in the illustrious history of the Grant County Amateur.
Last summer, he tied the tournament record en route to his eighth title.
This year, he is aiming for his ninth, which would put him alone in third place for most Amateur victories. Only Grant County Sport Hall of Fame members Boyd Toney (12) and Don Humes (11) have won more.
However, Varner knows that he cannot let up with the two toughest courses, Walnut Creek and Meshingomesia, still remaining.
“I just need to continue what I did today,” Varner said. “Just the basics. 36 holes, anything can happen.”
A staple of the Grant County Amateur in the early 2000’s, Todd Chin participated in his first county tournament since 2016. Chin dominated the early part of the new millennium, winning the event in 2000, 2001, 2003, and 2005.
Chin began the weekend with a 69 (-3) at the Elks, before hitting a 68 (-4) at Arbor Trace, putting him in second place at 137.
“I’m happy with it. Two rounds in the 60’s is pretty good,” Chin said. “Looking back, I left a lot out there today. I got ahead of myself playing the shorter yardage here at Arbor. I got ahead of myself and had to reel myself in on the back nine and start stringing some shots together, and I did. In the front, I was missing opportunity after opportunity, but I stayed patient. I hit the shots that were called for and I didn’t force much. Then on 17 and 18, I finally got two putts to go, which really salvaged my round for me. I hung in, stayed patient, and turned in a decent score.”
With an opportunity to win his first title in 15 years, Chin just plans to focus on playing his game.
“I’m just going to try to tighten up my rounds a little bit,” Chin said. “If I get out and practice this week, I will be focusing on that and going through the holes in my head and what I’ve got coming up.”
Former Eastbrook star Lance Hoch, together with Peter DeLongchamp, rounded out the championship flight this coming weekend at Walnut Creek and Meshingomesia.
For the first time in the history of the women’s portion of the tournament, there was only one female who signed up to play – Jenna Boucher, another former Panther standout.
Boucher, who is currently playing her college golf at Indiana Tech, has won the last two women’s titles. She finished the first weekend with an 83 at the Elks and an 84 at Arbor Trace.
“I definitely should have played better today, this being my home course,” Boucher said. “I’m here constantly. I just couldn’t make a putt from pretty much anywhere. I drove pretty well for the first part, but then I fell apart towards the end [because I was] getting upset about a lot of those putts. I was driving well in the fairway, and I had some nice chips that definitely saved me out there.”
The third round will take place at Walnut Creek Golf Course on July 17, while the fourth and final round will be held at Meshingomesia Golf Club on July 18. Both rounds will begin at 8 am.