Tide Golfer Best At Publics

WHEATON, ILL. - Last summer Alabama golfer Mark Harrell finished second in stroke play at the United States Amateur. On Wednesday he bettered that finish in another major amateur event. Harrell finished first in stroke play at the weather-delayed U.S. Amateur Public Links.

Mark Harrell, , who will be a senior this fall on the University of Alabama golf team, finished 5-under par in the two rounds of stroke play to best the field of 155. The Hazlehurst, Ga., native shot 69-70/139 to finish two strokes ahead of the next-best scores which were by a trio of players including Brazil's Lee Lucas, California's Eddie Olson, and Minnesota's Clayton Rask who all finished at 3-under, 141.

Harrell and the low 64 scorers from the two rounds of stroke play were set to begin match play late Wednesday afternoon. The first round of match play is 18 holes, all to be played on Wednesday.

"Well, I guess the tournament begins now," Harrell is quoted as saying on the U.S.GA.'s website for the tournament, www.usapl.com . "My first mission is accomplished by making match play and getting a good seed. That was the goal coming in. You've got 156 guys (one withdrew after the first round) and you want to set your goals high. I wanted to win stroke play."

Harrell made the turn Wednesday at 2-over and birdied four holes on the back nine.

Play at the U.S. Amateur Public Links began on Monday. Harrell, who shot 3-under par, 69, in the opening round, completed his round Monday and was the co-leader with Rask though nearly half the field was left stranded when play was suspended for the day around 2:30 CT because of rain. Those players stranded completed their first round play on Tuesday morning then second round play immediately began.

But the second round fell victim to weather as well. The horns sounded at 4 p.m. CT to usher the golfers off the course. The rain continued with no return to play, and at 6:15 p.m. CT, play was officially suspended for the day.

Harrell, who had been scheduled for a 4:30 p.m. tee time, never got to play on Tuesday. In fact, he had just arrived at the practice range and hit a total of one range ball when the horn sounded and he and the other golfers were called to leave the course because of thunderstorms in the area.

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