CHESTERTON | Jeff Ryan said a lot of the competition was old enough to be his own children, but that didn't stop the 45-year-old golfer from hanging with the field at the 38th annual Northern Amateur.
Ryan, a 1986 Chesterton grad and investment advisor at Fifth-Third Bank in Valparaiso, carded a 1-over-par 73 Thursday and has a two-day total of 152 in the event at Sand Creek Country Club.
"I wanted to be competitive," said Ryan, who carded a 79 in the opening round. "I didn't want to take up a space for the young kids."
The Valpo resident birdied Nos. 1, 4 and 10 under conditions that were much better than Wednesday's blustery, colder climate.
"The lack of wind made it easier," said Ryam, who is tied for 43rd. "The greens weren't as dried out. The pins were also set up so you had a chance to shoot a good score."
Ryan, the reigning Sand Creek Club champion, was asked to play in this event last year. Schedule commitments made that impossible, but he had some free time this summer.
Ryan isn't new to the course or the event. He said he played the Northern Am about 20 years ago.
"I'm playing much better now," he said.
He also said technology had something to do with it.
"The equipment is so much better, he said, "and I can hit the ball further than when I was 20."
Ryan would like to end on a high note in today's final round, but the entire experience has been a confidence boost.
"These guys can play five or six days a week; I'm lucky to get two days," he said. "I definitely love playing competitive golf. Hitting with these 20-year-olds makes me feel like I can compete."
Chesterton alum Kyle Grassel had six birdies and had the best local round with a 70 -- 11 shots better than his opening round. He's tied for 37th.
"I got off to a better start and played a little safer," said Grassel, who had four birdies on the front nine. "I got a little ahead of myself (Wednesday).
"I was more confident and stay focused and calm. The pins were easier (Thursday), and some players took advantage."
Recent Valparaiso grad and Bradley recruit Bobby Jacobs played with overall leader Juan Pablo Hernandez of Mexico City, Mexico, who carded an event-low 65 and sits at 137. Final round starts this morning.
Jacobs didn't fare as well. He thought the conditions were easier but shot one stroke higher (75) than he did in the first round. He's tied for 27th with LaPorte grad Jordan Lenard at 149.
"I was definitely hoping for a little better than that," he said. "I didn't putt as well as I would've liked."
"Some days, you just don't make the putts. I hit the ball pretty well. If I do that and make some putts, I could do pretty well."