UNIVERSITY PLACE, Wash. (AP) — Jeff Wilson shot the second lowest score in 110-year history of the U.S. Amateur to take a seven-stroke lead after the first day of play Monday.
The 47-year-old Wilson, from Fairfield, Calif., closed his round with a pair of eagles for a course-record 62 at the par-72, 7,420-yard Home Course – one of two courses used for the championship.
He had seven birdies, two eagles and one bogey, recording a 29 on the back nine. The 29 also ties the lowest nine-hole score, accomplished four times previously.
The only lower 18-hole score was a 12-under 60 by Bill Horschel at the 2006 Amateur at Chaska Town, Minn.
The Amateur features 312 players from 15 countries. The first two days are stroke play at The Home Course and Chambers Bay. Five days of match play will follow at Chambers, with a 36-hole championship match Sunday.
Chambers is the tougher course, a par-71 7,742-yard layout – the longest in U.S. Amateur history.
“There were a lot of putts that went in today,” Wilson said. “I made all the putts I should have made and probably a few that I shouldn’t have.”
Wilson, one of the older players in the field, is a three-time medalist at the Mid-Amateur and 2008 U.S. Amateur medalist. He also is a four-time qualifier for the U.S. Open, finishing as the low amateur in 2000.
“I had a 33 at the turn then all of a sudden on the back nine I starting hitting right where I was looking,” he said. “Then the eagle-eagle doesn’t hurt anything.”
He used a 3-wood from 262 yards out to knock it eight feet behind the hole, making the eagle putt. Then he holed out from 132 yards, using a wedge for an eagle 2.
For Wilson, who runs a car dealership in Vallejo, Calif., it was the lowest round of his career.
Nick Taylor, winner of this year’s Ben Hogan Award as the nation’s top collegiate golfer, is one of nine players at 3 under. Taylor, who is from Abbotsford, British Columbia and played four years at the University of Washington, shot a 3-under 69 on The Home Course.
“Anything can happen,” said Taylor, who plays Chambers on Tuesday. “It’s playing so tough. You have to hit a lot of good drives. There are big fairways but you’ve got to hit the fairways to give yourself a chance.”
Joining Taylor at 3 under are Richard Werenski of South Hadley, Ma., Max Homa from Valencia, Calif., Daniel Berger Jupiter, Fla., John Duke Hudson of Sonora, Texas, Harris English or Athens, Ga., Michael Morrison of Roswell, N.M., and John Hahn of Las Vegas. They all played The Home Course.
Also at 3 under is Patrick Reed from Augusta, Ga., shooting the day’s best round at Chambers with a 68.
Just three of the top 24 scores were recorded at Chambers.
Werenski, 18, who begins his first year at Georgia Tech this fall, earned a spot in the Amateur last year but did not advance past medal play.
“Well, this is obviously the easier course,” Werenski said. “So I wanted to go out and shoot a pretty good number. And go out tomorrow and not think about the score … You never know what can happen at Chambers Bay.”
Defending champion Byeong-Hun An is among a group of six at 2 under. The 18-year-old South Korean, who now lives in Bradenton, Fla., was the youngest champion in the event’s history last year at Southern Hills in Tulsa, Okla.
An was 3 under at the turn but “in the back I was scrambling … in the right rough, left, right and 6-footers. Not a lot of putts for par.”