Sunnehanna Action

Golfer Ryan Gerard hits out from the woods along the twelve fairway at Sunnehanna after finding it the help of his playing partners and fore-caddie on Thursday, June 13, 2019.

Wind on Wednesday gave way to steady rain on Thursday morning at the Sunnehanna Amateur Tournament for Champions.

That meant slower greens and tougher pin placements – but still some nice early scores.

Ryan Gerard, of Raleigh, North Carolina, was 4-under par midway through his morning round and finished even. Still, his 70 round on Thursday was a 7-stroke improvement over his Wednesday effort.

"(Wednesday) was drier and definitely more windy, so coming out today we knew the pins would be in higher locations on the greens to just protect against that, which makes it tougher to get it close," Gerard said.

Gerard, who plays collegiately at the University of North Carolina, had to shoot his way out of the woods and back onto the fairway on No. 12.

He said conditions – which included a drizzle when his group teed off, and then heavy rain – impacted both the course and the mindset of the players.

"Starting about 7:30, it really started raining for about three or four hours there," Gerard said. "You just knew you had to stay patient, stay calm out there, stay diligent if you wanted to shoot a good round out there.

"I had it to 4-under at one point but really just didn't make any putts down the stretch."

The first-day leaders were on the course Thursday afternoon. The group that included Wednesday leader Lachlan Barker teed off at 12:50 p.m.

John Pak, of Scotch Plains, New Jersey, shot a 3-under 67 Thursday, one of the better rounds during the morning round. That moved him up 37 spots in the field of more than 100 golfers after his opening-round 75.

Christopher Williard, of Blacklick, Ohio, was in the first group to finish Thursday.

Williard shot a 73, five shots better than his Wednesday round.

"(The rain) was coming down pretty hard," Williard said. "It was cold, too. The course played fairly easy before that rain came. But once the rain came and when it stopped, it soften it up quite a bit.

"The wind, it didn't exist today. That made it much easier."

Chip Minemyer is the editor of The Tribune-Democrat and TribDem.com, and CNHI regional editor for Pennsylvania, Maryland and Ohio. He can be reached at 814-532-5091. Follow him on Twitter @MinemyerChip.