Ben Corfee is putting particular emphasis these days on dissociating emotion from results on the golf course. That’s the essence of a game-improvement book he’s taken to heart.
It better allows him to stay in the moment without regard to shots before or to come, he said. It frees him to play without fear, especially when the birdies are piling up and his score approaches personal-best territory.
He’s been largely successful through the first two days of the Memorial Amateur at Ancil Hoffman. His 8-under-par 64 Sunday gave him a two-day total of 130 and a four-shot lead with Monday’s final round to play.
He is, however, human. On Ancil’s par-3 17th hole Sunday, Corfee narrowly missed the green to the right and faced a straight-forward 25-foot chip – the kind he thinks about making. He hit an indifferent shot and then missed the resulting 6-foot par putt.
Corfee was 8 under for his round before the bogey; he has not shot 9 under.
“I started to think about (my score) instead of playing the game on that chip,” he said. “I got out of my process.”
He birdied the par-5 18th hole to tie his personal-best round and leave all but a few of the 40 players and ties making the 36-hole cut playing for pride. Corfee made 10 birdies, including three in a row twice (Nos. 6, 7, 8 and 11, 12, 13).
The 22-year-old Davis resident and UC Davis player recently completed a junior season that saw him narrowly miss an individual berth in the NCAA postseason. He was in the first group off the first tee Sunday, so his impressive red numbers were on the scoreboard all day for all to see.
As player after player finished and looked at the leaderboard, the reactions ranged from “Jesus, Corfee!” to “That’s insane!” to “Holy ... ”
“Sometimes it starts going right,” said Corfee, who shot a 6-under 66 at Sierra View earlier in the week in California State Amateur qualifying.
Chico’s Tyler Collier, a sophomore at UCLA, shot a 64 and trails by four shots. Elk Grove’s Andrej Bevins, a junior at New Mexico, shot a 71 and is tied for third with Sacramento’s Alex Lee, a Fresno State freshman who shot a 68.
Roseville’s Josh Sedeno, a freshman at Alabama and the defending Memorial champion, bogeyed his last hole for a 66 and is eight shots behind. Saint Mary’s sophomore Roman Aragon (69) is nine shots back.
Collier birdied the first four holes Sunday and had nine birdies in all, the longest putt being 12 feet. He said a similar start Monday would help his cause.
“Maybe I can make a few birdies early, put some pressure on him and see where it goes from there,” he said.
The leaders will start at about 9:30 a.m. It’s Corfee’s tournament to win. His ability to avoid getting ahead of himself will be tested.