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57th Delaware Open: Round One

Merion’s Bennett holds lead after Delaware Open Round One

MILLSBORO, Del. – A day after the PGA TOUR wrapped up its first trip to the First State, Delaware’s finest amateurs and professionals flocked to Plantation Lakes Golf & Country Club (par 71, 6,551 yards) for their own chance at a trophy lift.

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The 57th DSGA/GAP Open got going Monday at Plantation Lakes Golf & Country Club (par 71, 6,551 yards). Leading the way after Round One is Merion Golf Club amateur Ford Bennett, who calmly collected an early 4-under 67 to take the overnight lead.

After the first 18, a cut was implemented to the low 36 players and ties. The cut stopped at 6-over 77, meaning 40 players got through to Tuesday’s doubleheader action.

Bennett, who escaped rain showers and the eventual weather delay, collected six red numbers in his morning round.

“Six birdies, I was incredibly happy with that. Surprisingly a majority of them came in stress-free manner. I had two eagle putts resulting in two [tap-in] birdies. The other four, they were all within five-to-10 feet,” said Bennett, a senior at Brown University. “Very excited with the round today overall.”

After a bad drive on No. 1 (par 4, 320 yards), No. 2 (par 4, 471 yards) is where the leader’s confidence came from. He drilled driver these, leaving just a lob wedge in which he almost flew in the cup. That one “set the tone for the rest of the day and erased any nerves.”

Bennett didn’t place much priority on seeing the golf course before today. He’s never stepped foot on the property, and did minimal scouting by checking out some pictures on Plantation Lakes’ website. That’s how he prefers it, and it equaled the day’s low round Monday.

“I almost prefer playing courses that day, playing them blind. It’s a unique thing to say, but I don’t really like seeing courses beforehand. Sometimes I’ll just get in my own way,” said Bennett, 21, of Owings Mills, Md. “All I try to do is figure out which holes may have troubles area, or where I can hit my driver, which I did on every par 4 and par 5 today.”

During 2020, the COVID-19 season, Brown’s program was cut from their athletic department. Bennett was then out a collegiate golf team, although he still plays on the club level at Brown. It gave him a refreshing perspective on the game, and helps motivate him whenever competing nowadays.

“After my freshman year, they cut the program. I’ve been playing club golf every since,” said Bennett, who also won Merion’s club championship the same year. “Now, I’ve realized after a few years, that I get the most fun in life just going out and competing. So for me, tomorrow, the biggest thing is just to go out and enjoy it.”

Four players, including three pros, sit just one back at 3-under par. Professionals Tom Eisenacher of Frog Hollow Golf Club, Chris Krueger of Kings Creek Country Club and Henry Angier (unaffiliated) all will be chasing Bennett tomorrow. Amateur Carlo Pizzano of Five Ponds Golf Club also sits at -3.

The second round will begin Tuesday at 8 a.m. with leaders teeing off last. The third and final round will begin at an estimated 12:45 p.m.

NOTE: A weather delay lasted an hour and 15 minutes after beginning at 1 p.m.

GAP
Celebrating Amateur Golf since 1897, GAP, also known as the Golf Association of Philadelphia, is the oldest regional or state golf association in the United States. It serves as the principal ruling body of amateur golf in its region. The Association’s 330 Member Clubs and 90,000 individual members are spread across Pennsylvania, Delaware, New Jersey and Maryland. The GAP’s mission is to promote, preserve and protect the game of golf.