- The Washington Times - Thursday, June 2, 2011

A number of golfers with local ties teed off Thursday at the Melwood Prince George’s County Open, but playing near their home turf didn’t lead to lower scores in the Nationwide Tour event.

John O’Leary of Reston (5-over 76), Chris McCartin of Arlington (3-over 74) and Naval Academy graduate Billy Hurley III (2-over 73) appreciated competing before family and friends at the University of Maryland golf course. However, they will have to wait until Friday’s second round to try and climb in the standings. Chris Baryla is atop the leaderboard after shooting 7-under 64.

O’Leary was not pleased with his performance Thursday. He made no birdies and five bogeys.

“Every [hole] was challenging for me today,” he said. “I didn’t play that great. The par 3s were tough, other than the 17-hole.”

Two of O’Leary’s bogeys came on par 3s, but he shot a par 3 on No. 17, the shortest hole on the course at 128 yards. The wind was a challenge he had to contend with throughout the afternoon.

“The course was good,” O’Leary said. “It played a little tougher than in practice because of the wind, but the course was in great shape. But definitely played a couple shots tougher because the wind was up today.”

McCartin graduated from Yorktown High School and participated in four NCAA championships while at Wake Forest. In March 2011, he won the eGolf Tour’s Samanah Classic in Morocco by four shots after shooting 7-under 65 in the final round. McCartin moved into first place on the eGolf Tour money list with the win.

He had two bogeys on the front nine and three on the back nine Thursday, but he improved his score with birdies on No. 4 and No. 16. Like O’Leary, he bogeyed No. 2, a 228-yard par 3.

Hurley made one bogey in the back nine and returned to par after a birdie on No. 3. But bogeys on three of the final four holes in the front nine, combined with a birdie on No. 7, pushed his score to 2 over.

O’Leary is playing on the Nationwide Tour for the third time. He competed in one event in each 2007 and 2008. A graduate of George Mason University, he runs the John O’Leary Golf Academy at Pleasant Valley Golf Club in Chantilly.

“It’s great when you can play in your backyard,” O’Leary said. “You have some people around that follow you, some friends and family who can come out and watch you.”

At the conclusion of his round first, O’Leary went to work at the driving range, making minor adjustments in preparation for Friday’s competition. The mental aspect of the game will be the key to a better second round.

“I was just working on my swing, trying to get the turn of my shoulders up on a little different angle,” O’Leary said. “Just trying to stay a little more patient, hopefully swing my clubs a little better. But that’s it — a little more patience.”

O’Leary and McCartin tee off at 2:05 Friday. Hurley’s tee time is 1:55.

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