Rank's course-record 62 gives him lead in Players Amateur

sfastenau@beaufortgazette.comJuly 11, 2014 

Garrett Rank remains firmly planted in his nation's pastime.

But the pull from golf might be growing stronger.

The Canadian works during the winter months as an ice hockey referee. He was hired this past January by the NHL to officiate American Hockey League games and hopes to return in the fall.

But during these steamy months, the 26-year-old hoofs it with his golf bag, playing in as many top amateur events as he can and wondering if a professional career is on the horizon.

More days like Friday would help.

Rank dismantled the Berkeley Hall South course during the second round of the Players Amateur, firing a competitive-course-record 10-under-par 62 to post a score of 11-under 133 for two days. He grabbed a five-shot lead over defending champion Hunter Stewart and University of South Carolina golfer Matthew NeSmith.

Rank birdied Nos. 3 through 8 and made four birdies in a five-hole stretch on the back nine to shoot the lowest score at the Players Am since Beaufort's Mark Anderson and Chesson Hadley shot 10-under 60s during the final round in 2008 on Belfair's East course.

Stewart, the Vanderbilt golfer who played in last month's U.S. Open, matched his opening 69 and is 6 under. He has made just one bogey in 36 holes but said he needs to better take advantage of Berkeley Hall's par-5s to have a chance to chase down Rank on the weekend.

"I haven't done enough damage there," said Stewart, who has birdied the par-5 ninth twice and made six pars on the rest. "Whereas normally, you really go get this golf course on the par-5s."

Hilton Head Island's Andrew Orischak, who led after the first round with a 68, stepped back with a second-round 75. Former Hilton Head Island High School teacher Todd White closed with five consecutive birdies and is 3 under for the tournament.

NeSmith followed an opening 68 with a 70 on Friday. The 20-year-old visited Sea Island, Ga., instructor Todd Anderson in June to try and get his game on track.

He was medalist at U.S. Amateur qualifying earlier this week at Columbia Country Club. The North Augusta native said he would try to continue to play smart golf while facing the deficit on the weekend.

"You want to try and get as close as you can," NeSmith said. "But if you try to get as close as you can, you find yourself not doing the things you did to put the position you did that got you there. You find yourself shooting at flags you wouldn't normally shoot at."

Rank started as a hockey referee about five years ago. He played hockey and golf at the University of Waterloo in Ontario.

He reffed junior league hockey before catching on with the American Hockey League this year.

The plan is to continue with a foot in each of his favored sports. But he remains open to a run at professional golf.

"Really I need someone to give me a chance," said Rank, who was the medalist at U.S. Public Links stroke play last year and reached the finals of the 2012 U.S. Mid-Amateur. "It's really expensive to play professional golf. I'll just need to eventually find some sponsorship and find a couple people to back me."

Follow reporter Stephen Fastenau at twitter.com/IPBG_Stephen.

The Island Packet is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere in the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

Commenting FAQs | Terms of Service