Conor Stone was left to rue an unraked bunker on his final hole as he fell one shot behind serial winner Kipp Popert ahead of the final round of the second US Adaptive Open.
Stone started on the back nine and made the turn in 34 with birdies on 13 and 15 before adding another on the sixth having bogeyed the second. But a bogey, double bogey finish saw him settle for a one-over 73 to lie in second place on -4.
“Yeah, obviously I started on the back nine today. I had — I started off with a nice par on the 10th, my first, and had two — a nice up-and-down on the par-3, 12th, just kind of to steady the ship. Knocked in a nice birdie putt on 13 to get the round going,” explained the Carton House golfer.
“My front nine was solid. I think I had 34, 2-under, but then the wind picked up on the back nine. It’s a much tougher nine than the front. Some longer shots into the par-4s, and the wind was kind of just picking up a bit.
“I was just chipping away nicely, and then I made a sloppy bogey on my 17th, the 8th hole, and then I made a double out of nowhere on the 9th hole, my 18th. A wedge in from 140, and it kind of just puffed up a bit in the wind and spun back into the bunker. Whoever was in the bunker before me forgot to rake it, I think, so had a nasty lie. I left it in there and hit a half decent shot to six or seven feet and missed the putt to make a double on my last. A bit disappointing, but 67-73, if you’d told me that last year, that I’d shoot 67-73 in the first two rounds, I’d snap it off your hands. Overall I’m happy enough.”
The Kildalkey native who lines out for Co. Meath Golf Club in Senior Cup was considering withdrawing from the event in Pinehurst no.6 after suffering from severe back pain over the last few weeks so he feels he is in bonus territory.
“Yeah, when I was coming over here it never even entered my mind. I know I’m good enough, I just don’t play enough golf compared to what these guys do. It’s obviously going to be slightly tougher for a guy like myself to go out and win it. But I am here to win, I suppose. I’m not just here to have a nice holiday.”
The McGuirks employee knows what it’s like to win having enjoyed success at the English Open and the Pas De Calais Open last year.
“I know what it’s like to play under pressure. I don’t mind it too much. Just starting off the first few holes is obviously the toughest, but once you get into the round it’s fine. I keep going back to my caddie Glen, but he really is good. He keeps you in the moment, so that’s been working well.
“At the end of the day I’m here to enjoy it. There’s no prize money or anything like that on the line, only glory. Glory is great. But obviously I do really want to win, and I probably will be thinking about it.
“But at the end of the day it’s only golf. We’re all lucky to be here. We’ll see what happens.”
Ireland’s Aidan Grenham is sixteen-over-par.