Birdies were tough to come by during Wednesday’s opening round of the 52nd Francis Ouimet Memorial Tournament.
The greens at host course Boston Golf Club were firm, the bunkers deep and the long grass and fescue aplenty.
But the difficult — albeit pristine — conditions didn’t seem to hinder Gloucester’s Mark Turner.
The former St. John’s Prep standout recorded seven birdies in his 18-hole round and finished with a score of 70 (1-under par) to start his three-day quest at the Cup. Turner was one of just eight golfers to finish below par and he currently finds himself in a tie for fourth place going into Thursday’s play. Former Prep teammate Steven DiLisio, the Mass. Amateur champ, leads the tournament at 6-under par.
“There was definitely no shortage of excitement out there and the ball striking was really good,” said Turner. “I had a few three putts lead to bogeys but the seven birdies made up for those very well. It could have been a really low round if I didn’t make a couple of bad mistakes from inside of 100 yards.”
Short yardage mishaps or not, Turner will gladly take the sub-par performance — especially when taking in to account the level of competition he’s up against in what is dubbed the Championship Division, as well as the difficulties of the course itself.
“(Boston Golf Club) is always awesome. It’s a hidden gem,” said Turner. “The Greens are perfect and I can’t put any of the three putt blame on them. It’s also one of the harder courses I’ve played in competition because there’s a unique aspect to every hole that can cost you a big number.”
En route to posting his 70, Turner managed birdies on hole Nos. 4, 5, 6, 11, 12, 14 and 16. Five of those birdies came on par 4s, the other two on par 3s. In addition, the Dartmouth College linksman had bogeys on Nos. 3, 8, 10 and 17 and a double-bogey on No. 7.
If he can clean up his work around the greens there’s no reason to believe Turner won’t be in the mix for a title come Friday.
“Overall the game felt as good as it has in a long time,” he said. “If I maintain the same swing for the couple of days I feel like I will definitely be in close contention.”