10/18/07 — Crain overcomes shaky start

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Crain overcomes shaky start

By Rob Craig
Published in Sports on October 18, 2007 2:50 PM

Any other day, Andy Crain's afternoon might have been a lost cause.

Crain recorded bogies on the first two holes of the 2007 Tarheel Tour Championship at Walnut Creek Country Club. With family and friends watching every swing, Crain didn't panic -- he became focused.

Wanting to show his gallery that his first two holes were nothing more than flukes, Crain played outstanding golf the remainder of the round. He manufactured a 2-under par 70 and is seven strokes behind leader Richard Scott, who fired a course-record 9-under 63.

Ben Lammi and Bryant MacKellar are both tied for second at 6-under 66. Tommy "Two Gloves" Gainey, who set the WCCC course record back in June, is tied with Crain after opening-round play.

Second-round play began at 8 this morning.

"The last couple of weeks I've been struggling and I normally would have lost focus on a round like today," said Crain. "I definitely wouldn't have shot what I did. I was just grinding and trying my best to play good in front of family and friends."

Crain is in his fifth season of playing professional golf. The 1997 graduate of Eastern Wayne High School has made stops on professional tours in Florida and Texas before hooking up with the Tarheel Tour.

To date this season, Crain has played in 11 events and won nearly $12,000.

"Being able to play in your home state is really nice," said Crain. "I love this golf course and it's good to be back home."

Despite the familiar surroundings, Crain struggled at the start by going 2-over-par after the first two holes. He rebounded though and got par on his next three holes.

On the par-3 No. 15, Crain exhibited his strongest skill of the day -- his chipping. Crain chipped in from about 10 yards out for birdie.

"I chipped it unbelievably today," said Crain.

Two holes later, Crain putted for an eagle. On the par-5, No. 17, Crain hit a long drive and followed up with a 3-iron shot onto the green.

"I hit 3-iron and tried to get it over the trees," he said. "That was one of the few times I executed well."

Crain's eagle putt was just long, but he sunk his second attempt for birdie.

With his early struggles on the back nine a distant memory, Crain finished on the front and started off well.

On the par-5 No. 1, Crain drove straight down the fairway and hit his iron shot past the green and to the left. Even with the bad lie, Crain managed to earn a birdie. He muffed a chip shot on his first attempt and calmly drained the two-putt.

"That's not the place to miss a pin left and that's what I did," said Crain. "My second chip wasn't that easy, but luckily it hit the pin."

Crain added birdies on the fifth and seventh holes to finish with a 3-under-par 33 for the front nine.

Crain will now look to close in on Scott and make a play for a portion of the $102,500 at stake when he tees off this morning.

"I am so happy with myself for the way I hung in there and grinded and turned an easy 74 or 75 into a 70," Crain said. "Anytime you can start a tournament two or three under you're in a great position.

"You can't win it on the first day, but you can certainly lose it."