GW sophomore keepshis golf game sharp with summer tourneys

Sophomore golfer Thomas Blankvoort’s close tournament calls during the summer provides the GW men’s golf team with strong promise for the upcoming season.

Blankvoort shot a 6-over-par 149 (72-77), and missed the round of 32 by only one stroke at the invite-only 1999 North-South Amateur Tournament held Aug. 9-12 in Pinehurst, N.C.

“It’s a putt here or there,” Blankvoort said. “But this summer has been a great experience.”

Blankvoort, who lost a four-way playoff to enter match play, was joined at the tournament by fellow sophomores Bryan and Tim Derdenger. Past winners of this event, which was played at the site of the 1999 U.S. Open, have included Jack Nicklaus, Corey Pavin and Davis Love III.

The Derdengers fired two-day 155’s to tie for 71st place out of 94 entries.

Blankvoort, a native of the Netherlands, was the top finisher among all Atlantic 10 Conference entrants and was second overall among District-2 players. This District includes all Division-I players in New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, the District of Columbia and the majority of schools in Maryland and Virginia.

Blankvoort’s impressive play was consistent throughout the summer as he finished 18th out of 200 players in the Greater Bangor Open played July 29-31 in Maine. The Greater Bangor Open featured the nation’s top mini-tour players including former tennis great Ivan Lendl. Blankvoort’s finish also made him the second-lowest amateur among the leaders.

A few days after participating in the Greater Bangor Open, Blankvoort shot a 75-70 (145) in Duxbury, Mass., falling just one shot short of qualifying for the United States Amateur Tournament. Blankvoort was a sixth-place finisher at a well-respected European under-21 tournament held in the Netherlands in July. He was only three spots short of advancing to the European Finals played in Spain. Sergio Garcia, who finished second behind Tiger Woods at the 1999 PGA Tournament, was last year’s European Finals winner.

“I had a good summer, and I came close many times,” Blankvoort said. “But now that the season has started, our team has to start winning tournaments.”

Blankvoort shot the third-lowest score last season for the golf team behind the Derdengers, but GW men’s golf coach Scott Allen said he expects Blankvoort to be a confident team leader on the course this season.

“We’re looking for our first conference title since 1959,” Allen said. “We need someone to step on the course and shoot under par.”

Blankvoort and Allen both said their sights are set on making the NCAA Tournament. The top four teams in the district of 52 competitors qualify for the postseason. GW finished a respectable 10th last season. Allen said Blankvoort had the best summer of any of his returning players, making him a leading contender for the team’s first spot.

“Blankvoort’s play is one reason to be very optimistic about our upcoming summer,” Allen said. “This is our year to make a run at the NCAAs.”

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