Not surprisingly, the two lowest scores on the first day of the 113th US Amateur came at Charles River Country Club. The surprising part was how Richy Werenski got there.
Werenski, a 21-year-old from South Hadley, made the rarest shot in all of golf — a double eagle — on Monday in his round of 66, which trails Nick Hardy of Northbrook, Ill., by one stroke.
From 240 yards on the par-5 16th hole at Charles River, Werenski holed his second shot with a hybrid. It was his seventh hole of the day, which meant he had 11 more to play. Putting the albatross out of his mind wasn’t a problem.
“I just kind of forgot about it,” Werenski said. “I didn’t try to think about it again, I just tried to stay focused on what I had to do — the next shot I had. I tried not to get too up or too down.”
Hardy, a senior-to-be who has pledged to play his college golf at Illinois, had six birdies, including four on his second nine.
“I gave myself a lot of opportunities at the beginning of the round,” Hardy said. “I also hit a lot of fairways and greens to get off to a quick start.”
According to the scorecard yardage, Charles River (6,547) is shorter than The Country Club (7,310), so lower scores are expected to come from there, even though both are playing to a par of 70 for the championship. The best score at The Country Club was 67, by Neil Raymond, a 27-year-old from England making his US Amateur debut.
“I kept it in play and out of the rough,” said Raymond, who already owns a victory at the Old Course this year, winning the St. Andrews Links Trophy. “I fought my way around the course pretty well and didn’t make any rash decisions.”
Defending champion Steven Fox was reunited with an old friend on Sunday night when he was back in the company of the Havemeyer Trophy, which is awarded to the winner. After keeping it for nearly a year after his win near Denver, Fox had given the trophy back a few weeks ago.
Asked for his favorite trophy memory from when he had it, Fox said, “I traveled back from Nashville to Chattanooga a lot, so I would always take it with me and strap it into the passenger seat and I would never pay attention to speed limits, hoping that would get me out of it.”
Did it work?
“I never got pulled over,” Fox said. If he had, “I would just point to Tiger Woods on there and say, ‘This is in my possession now, Tiger won it. Can I go?’ ”
Fox opened his defense — at The Country Club, a course he said is playing harder than Merion, this year’s US Open venue — with a 72.
Slow play costs trio
The US Golf Association has an unveiled a pace-of-play initiative this year called “While We’re Young” meant to speed up play, and while US Amateur director Ben Kimball said he was pleased with the time it took to get the field around The Country Club, one-shot penalties were still handed out to the last threesome of the day.
Ryan Riley of North Easton, Patrick Rodgers of Avon, Ind., and Jordan Reinertson of Gibbon, Neb., were all penalized one shot after they exceeded the time allotted to play the final four holes. There are four checkpoints set up around the course: at the fourth, eighth, 13th, and 18th holes. The threesome hit the first three checkpoints in good time, but ran into trouble on Nos. 5-8, according to Kimball.
“We have to enforce our policy. Who would we be if we didn’t do that? It’s not something I certainly enjoy doing, but we are who we are, and we have to get things moving along,” Kimball said.
With the stroke added, Rodgers shot 73, Riley 78, and Reinertson 79.
Walker members struggle
With perhaps some of the pressure off, some of the five players who already have been named to the US Walker Cup team didn’t fare particularly well. Michael Kim and Max Homa, who were teammates at California, both played at The Country Club. Kim, the college player of the year who tied for 17th at the US Open, failed to make a birdie and shot 81. Homa, a US Amateur quarterfinalist in 2010, shot 78. Cory Whitsett had the day’s best score among the quintet, opening with a 72 at Charles River. Rodgers, with the slow-play violation, had 73, and Justin Thomas, who has announced that he’ll turn pro after the Walker Cup instead of return to Alabama, shot 75.
The low 64 players after 36 holes of stroke play will advance to match play. In the event a playoff is necessary — which is almost always the case — it will be Wednesday at The Country Club at 7 a.m. . . . This year’s field includes players from 40 states and 19 countries. There are 65 players here this week who competed in last year’s US Amateur . . . Those who played at Charles River Monday will take a shot at The Country Club Tuesday, and vice versa.