Ex-Storm star sinks hole-in-one at Twin City

Ex-Storm star sinks hole-in-one at Twin City

CHAMPAIGN — Conditions were pleasant for Saturday's first round of the Twin City golf tournament at Champaign Country Club.

Sunny skies.

Temperature in the low- to mid-70s.

Only a slight breeze for wind.

As such, almost no complaints rolled in as competitors finished their 18-hole opening day. But one topic was almost universally agreed upon by those in attendance: The greens played very, very quickly.

So how does one overcome an issue that can cause a one-putt situation to turn into a two- or three-shot struggle on any given hole?

Former Salt Fork star David Keenan had the answer in the form of a hole-in-one on the par-3 third.

It was the day's individual highlight as Keenan racked up a 3-over 74 to sit five strokes behind leader David Deschler.

"That was cool, but the rest of the round was pretty lackluster," said Keenan, who now has three hole-in-ones to his name. "Not going to complain too much because aces are rare, and it's hard to get down about that. But I feel like maybe the golf gods might've gotten me back on a few after that."

The 135-yard hole, like several others on the course Saturday, offered a noticeable slope behind the pin. Keenan played right at that decline, settling the ball about four feet behind the hole before watching it roll into the cup.

Keenan admitted the rest of the day wasn't so easy for him, saying he "missed a lot of putts" until he birdied the par-5 18th. He still received plenty of high-fives when other golfers concluded their rounds and heard about Keenan's early ace.

The 2010 Storm graduate also was part of an overall successful threesome Saturday, as current Illinois/former Uni High golfer Varun Chopra (even-par 71) and ex-St. Bonaventure athlete Josh Anderson (2-over 73) each found themselves, along with Keenan, in the top 10 after the first round.

Chopra, who is less than a month away from taking part in the U.S. Amateur Championship at Pebble Beach, lives a stone's throw away from Champaign Country Club. But even though he's well versed with what its golf course has to offer, even he wasn't expecting the putting game to prove so challenging.

"I play here a lot, and I've never seen them this quick and firm," said Chopra, who is entering his sophomore campaign with coach Mike Small's Illini. "So balls are rolling a lot. I might not have adjusted that well to that."

Anderson's home course is at Urbana Country Club, but he hadn't played in the Twin City tournament since 2012. He lived in Urbana at that time, but now resides in St. Joseph. Previously, event rules would've barred Anderson to sign up for that reason.

St. Bonaventure's single-season stroke average record holder is glad Twin City officials made an adjustment this year, even if his first round wasn't perfect.

"I left a few out there," Anderson said. "My swing was not good (Saturday), but I managed to get it around at 2-over. You can certainly lose it (in the opening round), but you can't win."

Anderson brought a looser mindset to this showcase as well, occasionally sipping on a cold beer between shots. Those easygoing vibes have the 2006 Bonnies alumnus in contention entering today's 36-hole finale at Lincolnshire Fields Country Club in Champaign.

"My friends say my give-a-crap meter is broken," Anderson said with a laugh. "It makes for fun rounds of golf, even in a tournament setting like this. You've still got to go one shot at a time, and if you hit a bad shot you move on, and the next shot could go in. You never know."

First-round leaderboard


1. David Deschler    69    -2

2. Varun Chopra    71    E

T-3. Ryan Murphy    72    +1

T-3. Jay Scott    72    +1

T-3. Josh Anderson    72    +1

T-3. Tim Hoss Jr.    72    +1

7. Clayton Parkhill    73    +2

8. David Keenan    74    +3

T-9. Matt Becker    75    +4

T-9. Conor Butts    75    +4

T-9. Ian Tate    75    +4