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New Vermont Open Course Attracts Newcomers

Killington, Vt. — A number of the young guns and newbies at this week’s Jeff Julian Memorial Vermont Open signed up for the golf tournament after Lake Morey Country Club handed it over to Green Mountain National Golf Course because of winter damage to its greens.

The Killington layout is leaving a good impression on a few of them.

Gradually making his way north after graduating from Georgia Tech in the spring, Massachusetts golfer Richard Werenski fashioned a 2-under-par 69 for a two-day 135 and a two-stroke lead heading into today’s final round. Michael Tobiason Jr. — who shared the first-round lead with Werenski at 5-under 66 — joined Florida native Jhared Hack at 137, while Ohio’s Mark MacDonald and New York’s Chris DeForest are at 138.

Three Upper Valley golfers made the professional cut of 8-over 150, including Lebanon’s Joe Toland and Pat Pelletier, both of whom advanced on the number.

“Today was not very good,” Werensky said. “I scored well because I had a decent short game, but other than that it wasn’t very hot. I didn’t strike the ball good, but if that’s my bad round, I’ll take it.”

Tech held its commencement on May 3, but Werenski had to hang around campus for another month as the Yellow Jackets advanced to the NCAA Championship. It stalled the South Hadley, Mass., native’s pro debut only in the calendar sense — he won his first start, an NGA Pro Golf Tour event in North Carolina last week. He’s in position to go two-for-two even though he closed Tuesday’s round with bogeys on two of his final three holes.

Tobiason followed Monday with an even-par 71. Hack — a former Western Amateur champ who turned pro in 2007 after just one semester on the University of Central Florida golf team — joined him with a Tuesday 69 that left him and Werenski as the only competitors with back-to-back rounds below par.

Hack enjoyed a reasonably steady second 18, posting four birdies against two bogeys. Tobiason had already settled in the clubhouse by the time Hack arrived, happy that he hadn’t gotten ahead of himself after Monday’s superb start.

Only a double bogey on Green Mountain’s par-3 17th hole kept Tobiason from joining Hack in the two-below-par-rounds realm.

“If you’re hitting it well, you can make some good numbers,” the ebullient Delaware native said. “It’s funny; you’ve still got to play it one hole at a time. You still want to go out and shoot a great number, but it’s tough. Once you start putting numbers in your head, you start playing to those numbers.”

MacDonald, a freshly minted graduate of the Miami (Ohio) men’s golf program, fashioned a 3-under 68 for the day’s low round. Chris DeForest, whose brother, Andrew, and father, John, are also in the field, joined him at 2-under 140 following a second-round 70.

DeForest doesn’t plan to change anything that’s put him in contention in his first Vermont Open.

“Stay exactly the same,” DeForest said. “You start to play more aggressive, you start losing balls and driving yourself batty. Same strategy, just hopefully convert more opportunities.”

Kearsarge High graduate D.J. Lantz posted the best Upper Valley tally, tied for 23rd at 73-72—145. Toland shot his second 75 in as many days, while Pelletier advanced with an even-par 71, an eight-stroke improvement on Monday that matched the second round’s best comeback.

Chip Shots: Course switch or no, Texas golfer Don Robertson — the full-time caddy for Champions Tour golfer Scott Dunlap — returned to the Vermont Open, something he’s done regularly since 1977. Robertson is scheduled to fly to Chicago tonight to join Dunlap for this weekend’s event outside of Chicago. “I’ll be here one way or the other, if I can,” said Robertson, who made the cut for today’s final round. … Killington’s Garren Poirier didn’t play the Open on his home course as well as he might have wanted (82-78—160), but he still has a big date coming up. Having won a qualifier in Maine in a playoff on June 12, Poirier is headed to the U.S. Amateur Public Links Championship in Newton, Kan., on July 14-19. It’s the final Publinx before the USGA retires it in favor of a national four-ball championship in 2015. … Hartford High graduate Zach Temple (151) and former Hanover High teammates Nate Choukas (151) and Benny Hayes (153) made the amateur cut and will play a third round today. Play starts at 9 a.m., with the leaders teeing off at 11 a.m.

Greg Fennell can be reached at gfennell@vnews.com or 603-727-3226.