WATERLOO — While they each know the excitement of having their names atop the Waterloo Open Amateur Golf Tournament leader board, neither Marshal Lamb nor Glenn Walls have seen the thrill last through the close of the weekend.
Going into the 2017 tournament, the former Northern Iowa teammates are both dead set on changing that.
After narrowly missing the cut at the previous two Opens, Lamb, who will be a redshirt junior at UNI this fall, came out on fire in 2016, shooting a 5-under-par 67 to take a one-stroke lead at the end of the first day.
Day Two wouldn’t be as kind to the Bettendorf native.
Some early struggles on the green created a frustration that carried over the rest of the day, and when the second round was over, Lamb had shot an 80, plummeting him all the way down into a tie for 28th.
Though a 70 on the final day helped him move up 11 spots on the leader board, Lamb wasn’t in a silver linings type of mood.
“All I know is I didn’t win and that’s my goal,” he said. “I started to get in my own way a little bit, and frustration kind of set in.”
Walls, who played four years at UNI before graduating in 2015, had a similar experience two year ago, when a 7-under 65 put him alone in first at the end of the opening round. But while he was fairly steady the next two days, shooting a 73 and 74, his lead quickly faded, as he finished in a tie for eighth.
Walls, who tied for 14th at the 2016 Amateur Open, wasn’t as vocally disappointed in his drop as Lamb, saying he took pride in earning a top-10 finish against a highly competitive field.
“I just got off to a great start, then definitely finished a lot cooler (after) the first day,” he said. “But I felt pretty good about how I played.”
And though he doesn’t seem disappointed about falling short in previous years, Walls says it would be false to assume he isn’t entering this year’s Open with his sights set on the top spot.
While he isn’t able to play as much as he did in his college days, Walls, who works as a real estate analyst for the Echo Development Group of Cedar Falls, has still found time to hit the links. He’s even taken part in some out-of-state tournaments, like the U.S. Amateur Four-Ball Championship in Pinehurst, N.C., where he competed in May.
He’s also made time to sharpen his skills on local courses like Gates Park, where he’ll begin play in the 2017 Waterloo Open at 12:10 p.m. Friday.
Having played them several times since moving to the Cedar Valley in 2011, Walls believes the comfort level he’s developed on local courses puts him in a position to do more than just challenge for the top spot.
“I have a good background and understanding of those courses,” he said. “I’ve played them many times. I think I have just as good a chance as anyone to go out there and put up three good scores. I’m definitely optimistic.”
Lamb, who tees off at 10:10 a.m. at Gates Park Friday, isn’t lacking confidence either, as a competitive year of play has him expecting big things this weekend.
After making just one total start in his first two years at UNI, Lamb made nine last season, finishing with a 77.04 stroke average.
He’s also coming off a strong finish at a USGA Qualifier in Iowa City earlier this week, where he rebounded from a sluggish opening-round score of 82 to shoot a 69 in the second.
Lamb, who makes it abundantly clear he isn’t showing up simply to compete, says he’s very pleased with how he’s been hitting off the tee as of late. And if he can find consistency on the greens, he sees himself as a serious contender this weekend.
“If my putter’s hot and I’m driving the ball well, I can realistically look at four- or five-under every round,” he said. “I know I can beat anybody in that field.”
ELSEWHERE: Three other Metro golfers are also looking to improve on top-20 finishes a year ago.
Waterloo’s Niel Doak and Cedar Falls’ Jonathan Feldick look to return to the upper echelon of the leader board after tying for 11th with scores of 215 in 2016. Doak tied for second in 2015, while Feldick was the 2006 runner-up.
Kevin Wilson of Waterloo is also hoping to improve his stock after tying for 19th with a 218 last year.
Over 200 golfers will be competing at both Gates Park and South Hills. Play begins at 7:50 a.m. Friday and 7:20 a.m. Saturday, with the championship round held on Sunday.