The two men who reside at the top of the leaderboard through the first 36 holes of the 89th edition of the Grant County Amateur golf tournament are in familiar territory.
In fact, Andrew Varner and Todd Chin are among the winningest golfers in the tournament’s history. Varner stands third all-time and has eight championships after winning the past two championships.
Chin, who has opted not to play the past few years, has four Grant County Am titles, which ties him with Jim Gallagher, Jr. for the fifth most trophies.
When Varner and Chin tee it up at 8:20 a.m. Saturday at Walnut Creek for the third round, a single shot will be the difference between the two. The two will be paired with longtime tourney veteran, Pete DeLongchamp, who has battled for many county titles over the past four decades. DeLongchamp has never won a County Am championship, but has been the Senior champion on five occasions.
Chin turned in the best opening round on Saturday at the Elks Country Club and his three-under par, 69, which proved to be the only score under 70. He backed it up on Sunday with a four-under 68 on Sunday at Arbor Trace, yet Chin is still looking up at Varner on the leaderboard.
“I kinda got ahead of myself with the short yardage here,” said Chin after his round at Arbor Trace, noting he left some shots on the course that day.
Chin missed a makable birdie putt on the par-4 first, and settled for par on the first two holes before making birdie on the par-4 third hole. That’s where he stood when he reached the par-5 fifth hole when potential disaster struck.
“I got quick on five, tried to rip one down there to the bottom of the hill,” Chin said. “I hit it out of bounds and made a six there, which is terrible.”
Chin then birdied the par-5 ninth and par-4 10th and said it helped to settle him down.
“Then I kind of stayed patient until the last couple holes and got some decent putts to go and it really salvaged the round for me,” Chin said. “I felt like I had to be in the 60s here, anything in the 60s. I stayed patient, hit decent approaches into 17 and 18 and just focused on my speed (putting) as opposed to line. And I finally got both of them to go in.”
Varner experienced a bit of disaster Saturday at the Elks. He was five under par going to the 15th hole, but an errant shot led to a triple bogey. He made pars on the final three holes to finish with a 2-under 70.
“Through 14 holes, for not playing much golf, I was happy with how I was playing,” Varner said on Saturday. “That swing on 15 deflated me. I made three good pars coming in after that, but you make a triple in a tournament, you’re putting yourself behind the eight ball.”
Varner wasn’t behind the eight ball for long on Sunday, and when all the strokes had been counted in the field of 40 players, he was on top of the leaderboard. Varner carded the best round of the weekend with a 6-under par, 66 to climb back ahead of Chin by a single shot with 36 holes remaining.
“Today I got about everything I could (out of the round). I was pretty solid overall,” Varner said on Sunday. “I just never was comfortable (on Saturday) and I told my wife ‘I’m going to go out there and relax and whatever happens, happens.’”
Varner made six birdies and 12 pars in his largely stress free round on Sunday.
“I knew it was there. I hit the ball well (Saturday) except for that triple,” he said. “With 36 holes to go, anything is possible.”
Scoring on the first day saw 16 men shoot better than 80. Chin, Varner, DeLongchamp, Blake LeFavour (71), Ty Corey (72) and Lance Hoch (72) all shot par or better.
Following Varner’s 66 and Chin’s 68 on Sunday, Hoch, Cody White, Doug Carey and BJ White all finished with 72s. Hoch and DeLongchamp enter the third round tied for third at 144, eight shots off Varner’s lead.
After the second round, the field was separated into four flights, and each one looks to feature some good competition over the final two days.
Tanner Day (76-74) and Gary Ross (77-73) are tied atop the first flight and all 11 players are within seven shots of the lead there.
Tony Smith, the 2019 Grant County Senior Amateur champ, shot a pair of 80s on the weekend and leads the second flight over Adam Corrigan (84-77) and Ethan Gallaway (86-75) by a single shot. An eight shot difference exists between the 10 golfers in the second flight.
Nick Duke enjoys the biggest differential on top of any flights. Duke shot 87-85 and holds a 3-shot advantage over incoming Eastbrook freshman Andrew Jarck (89-86) in the third flight.
Only one woman signed up to play in the 2020 Grant County Amateur, so Jenna Boucher, a 2018 Eastbrook graduate and soon-to-be sophomore player at Indiana Tech opted to take a spot in the men’s field. Boucher turned in consistent rounds of 83 at Elks and 84 at Arbor Trace and sits seventh in the second flight.
“It’s a lot nicer competing with more people than just like one or two that normally sign up for the women’s,” said Boucher, who was women’s champ last year. “It’s a lot like college distance so it’s not a huge change this year. If I did a few years ago this would have been a nightmare.”
Following the third round at Walnut Creek on Saturday, the field heads to Meshingomesia Country Club on Sunday where the champion and flight winners will be crowned.
Grant County Amateur leaderboard
1. Andrew Varner 70-66--136
2. Todd Chin 69-68--137
T3. Peter Delongchamp 70-74--144, Lance Hoch 72-72--144
T5. Keith Ruberg 73-73--146, Blake LeFavour 71-75--146, Ty Corey 72-74--146, Cody White 74-72--146
9. Doug Carey 75-72--147
T1. Tanner Day 76-74--150, Gary Ross 77-73--150
T3. Todd Butcher 75-76--151, BJ White 79-72--151
5. Scott Weaver 77-75--152
6. Robert Etherton 81-73--154
7. Bob Smithson 82-73--155
8. Jared Jarck 77-79--156
T9. Travis Havens 83-74--157, Mike Hicks 81-76--157, Ethan Bowland 79-78--157
1. Tony Smith 80-80--160
T2. Adam Corrigan 84-77--161, Ethan Gallaway 86-75--161
4. Dee Ballinger 85-77--162
5. Kirk Barton 85-79--164
6. Ryan Simpkins 87-78--165
7. Jenna Boucher 83-84--167
T8. Jeffery McVicker II 79-89--168,Greg Allison 84-84--168, Graham Nelson 87-81--168
1. Nick Duke 87-85--172
2. Andrew Jarck 89-86--175
3. Kevin Adkins 89-88--177
T4. Jim Brunner 93-85--178, Brian Cowgill 90-88--178
T6. Brian Gallaway 92-87--179, Jeff Moore 90-89--179
8. Anthony Combs 97-85--182
9. Tanner Stanley 96-91--187
10. Rhett Baker 107-119--226