Players Amateur notebook: Third round a mixed bag for Bluffton's Balzer

sfastenau@beaufortgazette.comJuly 12, 2014 

Michael Balzer relaxed in the Berkeley Hall men's locker room with mixed feelings after a third-round 76 that left him outside the cut at 9 over par.

The Berkeley Hall member and USC Beaufort student's wild round included eagles on two par-4s -- a 9-iron from 160 yards on No. 4 and a 6-iron from 190 yards on the finishing hole. He also made three birdies.

But there was the bad: five bogeys, a double bogey after an unfavorable ruling on No. 3 and a quadruple-bogey 9 on No. 6.

"I don't even know how to look at that," Balzer said. "You want to be happy, because you don't ever hole out twice in your life. But on the other hand, ..."

Balzer said he didn't see the same course he had seen during the club championship and Players Amateur qualifier, which he played a combined 11 under for four rounds. The greens firmed up and the pins were tucked and Balzer struggled with his driver this week.

He estimated he only hit three fairways during Friday's 77 and only a couple more on Saturday.

Despite the highs and lows, Balzer said he feels good about the direction of his game, that a few bad swings inflated his scores this week. He plans to try Tour Qualifying School in the fall.

"I'm doing all the right things working on my game and like the direction I'm going," Balzer said. "But it's taking some time to get from the range to the golf course."


Beaufort's Josh Fickes plans to find time to work on his game once his playing schedule dies down.

The Clemson-bound golfer has not been able to play Secession, where he works as a caddie, while it is closed for renovation. But he has bounced around Dataw Island, Parris Island and The Golf Club at Pleasant Point.

He shot a second consecutive 75 on Saturday at the Players Amateur to finish 6 over and miss the cut.

"I came in playing pretty well," Fickes said. "I felt like I was going to have a pretty good week and just left a ton out there."


Bluffton's Ben Dietrich was among those to miss the 54-hole cut, which fell at 2 over.

Dietrich, a University of South Carolina golfer, shot 74-71-74 to finish 3-over 219. Among the other area players to miss the cut were Bluffton's John Patterson and Fickes at 6 over and Balzer and Hilton Head Amateur champion J.D. Hoft, who finished 9 over.

Forty-three golfers will play the final round, including former Hilton Head Island High School teacher Todd White (5 under) and Hilton Head Island High golfer Andrew Orischak (1 under).

Follow assistant sports editor Stephen Fastenau at

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