Bandon, Ore. – Devon Purser was the only player among the morning wave of 78 golfers to post an under-par score, carding a 1-under 69 in the first round of stroke-playing qualifying on Monday at the 2011 U.S. Amateur Public Links Championship at the Bandon Dunes Golf Resort.
The 18-year-old from Clearfield, Utah, managed six birdies over the 6,832-yard Bandon Trails layout for a one-stroke lead over Jonathan Randolph and Maxwell Marsico.
Another wave of 78 golfers had afternoon starting times.
On a day when most of the country was experiencing a wave of heat and humidity, the golfers at Bandon Trails were dealing with temperatures that barely reached the upper 50s, accompanied by winds that blew 20-25 miles per hour by midday.
Purser took advantage of his early starting time, hitting a wedge inside a foot for a birdie at his opening hole, No. 10. He played his outward nine in 3-under-par 32 in relatively benign conditions.
“After the first nine, I was trying to take it deep,” said Purser. “I shot three under, so I had a couple of credits in the bank when it started getting windy. When we hit the first tee, it was blowing pretty good. I saw some crazy shots from people in front of me.”
Purser, who lost in the third round of last year’s U.S. Junior Amateur at Egypt Valley Country Club in Ada, Mich., lives 30 miles north of Salt Lake City, and will begin his freshman year at Brigham Young University in the fall. In Utah, Purser plays a links-style course where the wind blows every day, but at Bandon, he has learned from his practice rounds that putting from off the green is a fairly common play.
“I don’t know how many players like putting from off the green, but I don’t mind it all. So I think it’s kind of a good thing for me to be able to putt from 20 yards off the green.”
The gusty winds made it imperative to hit the ball solidly and keep it in play, Purser noted.
“I just really concentrated on what you needed to hit into the wind and make sure you are not going to make a big mistake,” said Purser.” I hit a lot of greens and had a couple of two-putts from like 50 feet.”
After bogeying four out of five holes on his inward nine, Purser got back to red figures with an 18-foot birdie on the par-5 ninth, his closing hole, getting up and down from a bunker.
Marsico, 20, is a rising sophomore at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School of Business, and he has been recovering from five broken vertebrae over the past four years. At the 2009 U.S. Amateur at Southern Hills in Tulsa, Okla., Marsico hit a 9-iron on the fourth hole and felt something snap. He played out the round, but wasn’t able to pick up a club for another year. Even on Monday, the injury caused him to temper his practice regimen.
Marsico noted that the shift in the wind direction during the first round changed how the golf course played.
“The last couple of holes played downwind, which was opposite from what we had in the practice rounds,” said Marsico. “I could hit a little less club off the tee to make sure I could keep it in the fairway.”
The wind was a big factor for Marsico on the par-5 16th hole. After hitting a driver and 3-wood and still coming up 50 yards short in the practice rounds, Marsico had just an 8-iron approach for his second shot on Monday. He managed a two-putt birdie en route to his 70.
On Tuesday, the golfers will move over to Old Macdonald for the second round of stroke-play qualifying. The field will then be cut to the low 64 scorers for match play, which begins Wednesday at Bandon Trails. The final five rounds of match play will be at Old Macdonald.
This year’s APL is being played concurrently at Bandon Dunes with the U.S. Women’s Amateur Public Links Championship. The WAPL field started qualifying at Old Macdonald and will play Bandon Trails tomorrow.
Also on Monday, 1996 APL champion Tim Hogarth was forced to withdraw due to a hand injury. Hogarth, the 2010 U.S. Mid-Amateur runner-up, had broken the hand two months ago and reaggravated the injury during the first round.
Mike Trostel is the curator/historian at the USGA Museum. Email him at email@example.com.