Long distance

ROBERT TYCHKOWSKI -- Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 7:26 AM ET

Ryan Lecuyer was hoping to put a little distance between himself and the field yesterday, but wound up putting a little too much distance between his golf ball and the fairway instead.

He settled for an even-par 72 in the second round of the Clarica Alberta Amateur Championship at Glendale, but knows it could have, probably should have, been a lot better.

"I just wish I could have shot a 69 or 70," said Lecuyer, whose 69-72-141 gives him a two-shot lead over Dan Soley (74-69), Scott Desmarais (71-72), Ryan Vallely (73-70) and Todd Halpen (71-72). "That would have given me a good shot going into the last two rounds, but what can you do?"

It's not a terribly secure lead, two measly strokes with 36 holes left to play and four guys breathing down his neck, but any lead is better than no lead at all - ask any of the 129 other guys in this tournament who'd change places with him in a heartbeat.

"I'm not going to worry about (sleeping on a lead) too much," said Lecuyer, who finished fifth, the 2003 Alberta Amateur.

"I'm just going to go out and play like it was Day 1 and keep that going to Day 4."

IDEAL CONDITIONS

Ironically, Lecuyer was three shots worse in ideal conditions yesterday than he was in the cold, gusting wind on Tuesday.

"I was hitting it wicked Tuesday, I was hitting it terrible today. I couldn't hit a fairway, and that'll cost you when you get in the rough and try and stop it on the greens. If you can't get off the tee here you're not going to hit the greens. I have to go work on the driver."

It doesn't look like he'll have much breathing room over the final two days, judging from how the nearest challengers are shooting.

Vallely, who lost to Tom Skinner by two strokes at the Edmonton Amateur two weeks ago, is on top of his game this summer and Halpen, a three-time All-American with 14 college tournament victories in the NAIA, is no stranger to pressure.

'LOVING IT'

"I'm loving it," said the 23-year-old. "The first two days I'm not trying to go low, I'm just trying to stay in the tournament.

"There's lots of temptation to fire at the flags, but one-under after two days, I couldn't be happier with that."

Like Lecuyer, he feels he could have taken it lower had he been a little stronger off the tee.

"I was more tentative than I've ever been in my life," he said. "I hit a lot of 2-irons when I should have just been bombing driver all day."

Why?

"Good question. If I knew that I'd be on tour. That's what golf's all about, right? Battling the demons."

Vallely, from Medicine Hat, is battling the ghosts of Alberta Amateurs past. He's been staying with friends in Edmonton for the last three weeks, playing and practising at Glendale, to prepare for a tournament in which he's done everything but win.

"For three years in a row, starting when I was 18, I finished second, third and fourth in this," said the 22-year-old.

"It just means a lot to me. I've never done anything like this to get prepared for a tournament, I guess you could call it my major. I want to complete the cycle.

"I'm a little bit bitter that I haven't grabbed one already."


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