Relatively new Medina resident Kyle Richardson will soon join 2006 Medina High graduate Pete Skirpstas in the professional golf ranks.
The 26-year-old Richardson plans to make the leap from amateur to pro when he goes to Florida for eight months starting in October, and the former Olentangy High golfer, who moved with his parents to Medina four years ago, certainly looks ready after two rounds of the 97th Ohio Open Championship.
Richardson followed his opening-day 4-under-par 68 at Weymouth Country Club with a 2-under 70 Tuesday at Fox Meadow Country Club, putting him at 6-under 138 heading into the final round today at Weymouth.
The 29-year-old Skirpstas, who has a recent victory on the Coastal Players Tour and captured the 2016 Toledo Open since turning pro in 2012, shot even-par 72 at Weymouth and followed with a 3-under 69 at Fox Meadow, putting him at 3-under 141 for the tournament.
Both players survived the even-par cut but are well back of Hartville’s Jake McBride, who is at 13 under after shooting 67-64. Massillon’s Richie Schembechler is second at 9 under following rounds of 70-65.
Richardson liked where he sat after his 4 under at Weymouth, which most consider the harder of the two courses, but a double bogey on No. 6 at Fox Meadow — he started on the back nine — and a bogey on No. 9 turned what could have been a round of 67 into 70.
“I was trying to shoot 9 under (at Fox Meadow),” said Richardson, whose family lives near the fifth hole. “I was definitely looking for lower than 70 today, but it happens.
“I figured if I went 68-68 the first two days I’d be right in it. The last day my goal was 65. I came here to win. I never play for second.”
A solid but unspectacular player as a 5-foot-8, 170-pound senior at Olentangy, Richardson benefitted from a late growth spurt and got serious in the weight room after high school, leaving him at a well-defined 5-11, 160.
Having won 11 times in 11 starts in the championship flight of the Golf Channel Amateur Tour in Florida, Richardson, who works as a caddy at Firestone Country Club in the summer and at Arnold Palmer’s Bay Hill Club in Orlando the rest of the year, plans to turn pro sometime after heading south again on Oct. 20.
“My body grew and I knew I wanted to do it for a living,” he said. “I started lifting weights and finally my game just took off.”
Despite being seven shots behind the red-hot McBride, Richardson hasn’t ruled out winning the Ohio Open, especially if McBride falters like first-day leader Stephen Gangluff of Marysville, who followed an opening-day 63 at Fox Meadow with a 74 at Weymouth and is in a group of four players at 7 under.
“I’m going to play my game,” Richardson said. “I’m going to shoot 65 one of these days. That’s my goal for (the final round).”
At 6-4, 220, Skirpstas is one of the longest players off the tee at the Ohio Open, but he recently altered his swing to sacrifice some length — from 330 yards with his driver to 315 — and improve accuracy.
With sister and former Gazette girls golf MVP Tegan Smith serving as his caddy at Fox Meadow, the change worked to perfection, as only missed putts kept Skirpstas’ 69 from being a 65 or better.
“That was the best I’ve hit the ball in a while,” he said. “It was a very easy 69. I could have played one-footed and half asleep and I would have been fine. I just had putts hit lips and edges all day, but I’m not disappointed. Everything I’m working on is going well.”
Skirpstas, who hopes to earn his PGA card, had four birdies and a bogey in his round Tuesday and isn’t ruling out anything today.
“The goal is to try as hard as I can on every single shot,” he said. “At the end of the day, what happens is what happens. But I’ll take a 59.”
- Other than Richardson and Skirpstas, the only known players from Medina County to make the cut were Medina’s Patrick Luth (2 under, 70-72) and Westfield Center’s Ben Smith (even, 75-69). Copley resident Zak Supelak, a member at Fox Meadow, is at 1 under (68-75).
- Other county players who participated were Cody Geisler (86-95), Evan Gray (88-83), Bob Henighan (79-72), Kyle Johnson (77-80), Spencer Koch (75-80), Cameron MacLellan (86-82), George Papas (87-89), Michael Ross (82-78), Justin Roth (79-77), Daniel Terry (80-85) and Steve Weir (75-85).
- The tournament began with 198 entrants and was trimmed to the top 50 plus ties after two rounds. Fifty-eight players survived the cut.
- The first players will tee off today at 7:50 a.m. The leaders are expected to begin play at 11 a.m.