Brunswick High and University of Findlay alumnus Justin Roth only has one good hand at the moment, so he’s lending it to former college teammate Dylan DeWitt.
Forced to withdraw from the 98th Ohio Open when he suffered a small fracture in his right wrist on July 4 — “I got tripped by a group of dogs,” he said with a wry smile — Roth served as DeWitt’s caddie Monday at Weymouth Country Club.
The new pairing got off to a great start, as DeWitt, who had never played the course prior to a recent practice round, used the knowledge of Roth’s 100 previous outings on the 7,007-yard layout to shoot a 5-under-par 67.
That was good for third place after the opening round of the 54-hole event. Delaware’s Stephen Gangluff carded an 8-under 64 at Fox Meadow Country Club to take the lead, with defending champion Chase Wilson of Zanesville one shot back after a 65 at Fox Meadow.
Half of the 166-player field teed off at Weymouth and half at Fox Meadow. Players will switch courses today, and the field will then be cut to approximately the top 50 for the final round Wednesday at Weymouth.
Thanks to some insight from Roth, DeWitt is in very good position to reach the final day and possibly finish high in his first Ohio Open.
“He knows my game very well from the last three years (at Findlay),” the 2015 Bellevue High graduate said of 2014 Brunswick grad Roth. “He helped me a lot with ball placement and which holes were birdie holes and things like that.”
The two drove to the tournament together, along with 2013 Brunswick grad David Reiter Jr., who struggled to an opening-round 85.
“Three bad swings took off eight or nine shots,” said Reiter, an assistant pro at Pine Hills Golf Club who played with a sore right wrist. “I should have been in at 77.”
DeWitt had no such bad shots and was physically healthy, which he displayed over and over again with mammoth drives of 300-plus yards, with a high of 340.
That length set up wedge shots on most par-4s and some medium irons on par-5s, resulting in birdies on Nos. 3, 5, 8, 10, 14 and 16, with the 6-foot, 190-pound DeWitt’s lone bogey coming on 18.
“He’s a bomber,” said Roth, who is in line to be DeWitt’s coach next season at Findlay. “It’s awesome to watch. When he gets that driver going right, he’s unstoppable. He’s probably the longest hitter here. It’s just such an advantage for him. He can reach all the par-5s in two with ease.”
Also a varsity baseball and basketball player at Bellevue, where he was a three-time Division II state qualifier in golf, DeWitt didn’t know what to expect in his initial Ohio Open, but was thrilled with the experience after one round.
“You don’t go out there saying, ‘I’m going to shoot 5 under,’” he said. “You just let it happen.”
Likewise, DeWitt doesn’t know what to expect today at Fox Meadow, another course he hasn’t played but one Roth has toured dozens of times.
“The goal is to make the cut,” DeWitt said. “That’s the biggest thing. You can’t win it on the first day, but you can definitely lose it. I put myself in good position today and hopefully I’ll have another good round tomorrow. Then on Wednesday we’ll see what happens.”
His former college teammate and current caddie, however, had a more optimistic view after DeWitt’s opening round.
“It’s exactly what he wanted,” Roth said. “He’s an animal. He wants it more than anybody I’ve ever met.”
- Massillon’s Richard Schembechler (F) and Dublin’s Bob Sowards (F) share fourth place after first-round 67s, while Columbus’ David Tepe (W), Granville’s Nicholas Contini (W) and Reynoldsburg’s Wyatt Worthington (F) are tied for sixth after 68s.
- Lancaster’s Chris Black recorded a hole-in-one on the 157-yard, par-3 16th hole at Fox Meadow.
- Medina’s Patrick Luth was the top Medina County golfer with a 1-under 71.