Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Holtgrieve Calls Bluffs, Leads Qualifiers

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Holtgrieve Calls Bluffs, Leads Qualifiers

Article excerpt

Hard to believe fear ever enters the picture for Jim Holtgrieve. He has a presence on a golf course that exudes confidence. He walks a fairway like he owns it and dares the embroidered surroundings and foreboding greens to tell him otherwise.

But, apparently, doubt creeps into the most secure of golf minds. And uncertainty has been haunting the area's most distinguished amateur.

"I get up on the tee and I can't pull the club back," said Holtgrieve, 47. "I don't know what it is. That's the way it was at Newport and that's the way it is now."

Not entirely. At the U.S. Amateur Championship in Newport, R.I., last week, Holtgrieve's tee-phobia led to rounds of 76-74 and he missed qualifying for match play.

At the U.S. Mid-Amateur Qualifying event Monday at The Missouri Bluffs, Holtgrieve fired a 4-under-par 67. He led the field in returning to the national tournament he won in its inaugural 15 years ago at Bellerive Country Club.

In this case, fear struck out.

"I just got it in the fairway and from there, I was all right," Holtgrieve said. "I mean, I feel better about my game than I ever have. I'm getting confident in everything I'm doing - except off the tee. I probably gave up 20 yards today just to get it in the fairway."

Bobby Godwin was the only other player to crack par at the area's new public gem of a golf course. Godwin was among the seven qualifiers with a 2-under 69. Another celebrated amateur, Don Bliss, showed his mettle by overcoming a nagging back to fire par-71. Kye Goalby also made the grade in regulation with a 71.

Holtgrieve will be headed to his 33rd United States Golf Association championship tournament. One of the factors helping him get there was one of his rivals this season - Dan "Bummer" Barry.

Barry was the top dog at U.S. Amateur qualifying earlier this month and also competed at Newport. But Barry plans to play in the Gateway Masters as a professional next month and will miss the Mid-Amateur. Instead of trying to qualify on Monday, he caddied for Holtgrieve.

"He was great," Holtgrieve said. "He really kept me focused. From watching me play, he knew what club and he'd be handing it to me before I even asked. …

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