TRUCKEE, Calif. – Scottie Scheffler, 17, of Dallas, and Corey Eddings, 17, of Roseville, Calif., fired rounds of 5-under-par 67 Monday to grab the lead halfway through the first day of stroke-play qualifying in the 2013 U.S. Junior Amateur Championship at the par-72, 7,740-yard Martis Camp Club.
Their scores were one stroke off the course record of 66, which is held by four players. Scheffler carded one eagle, four birdies and one bogey. Eddings matched Scheffler’s 67 less than one hour later, including a 4-under 32 on the inward nine.
Maverick McNealy, a U.S. Junior Amateur quarterfinalist last year, Sam Horsfield, who advanced to the Round of 16 at last week’s U.S. Amateur Public Links, and Andy Zhang, the youngest to play in a U.S. Open at age 14 in 2012 at The Olympic Club, were among 78 players who had afternoon starting times.
The U.S. Junior Amateur Championship consists of 36 holes of stroke play followed by six rounds of match play, with the championship scheduled to conclude with a 36-hole final on Saturday, July 27, starting at 7 a.m. PDT.
The U.S. Junior Amateur is one of 13 national championships conducted annually by the United States Golf Association, 10 of which are strictly for amateurs.
Scheffler, who advanced to the Round of 32 last year and is playing in his fourth U.S. Junior Amateur Championship, started on the 10th hole and shot 2-under 34 on the outward nine with birdies on Nos. 15 and 16. He eagled the par-5 fourth when he struck a 240-yard, 4-iron approach to within 15 feet. He added a birdie on the par-4 sixth, before his 6-foot par putt slid by the left side on the ninth, his last hole of the day.
“I hit it pretty well.” said Scheffler, who found all 14 fairways. “I was hitting the spots I was trying to aim at. I was trying to build a little bit of confidence going into match play. I just played solid.”
Like Scheffler, Eddings had an opportunity to match the course record, but his 25-foot birdie attempt on the par-4 18th grazed the hole. Eddings, who is participating in his second Junior Amateur and reached the first round of match play last year, was 2-under overall before making birdies on Nos. 12, 13 and 16. He drilled a long, downhill putt from off the green on the 12th and hit a pitch to 3 feet on the 312-yard, par-4 16th.
“It’s pretty surreal to do it [shoot a low score] in this tournament,” said Eddings, who said he went into the round with a game plan for every shot. “I’ve shot these numbers before but it’s pretty cool to do it here in a USGA event. The putter was really good. Every time I missed a green I got up and down.”
Cameron Young, 16, of Scarborough, N.Y., was one behind the leaders with a 4-under-par 68. Young, who just finished his sophomore year at Fordham Prep, started on the 10th hole. He birdied No. 14 before making eagle at No. 15 when he hit a 4-iron 240 yards to 2 feet. Young kept his round going by getting up and down for par at No. 11 and two-putting from 65 feet for another save at the 218-yard, par-3 third.
“I am playing conservatively off the tee,” said Young, who took three weeks off in June to recover from a shoulder injury. “I am picking my spots when I am going at flagsticks and at the middle of greens.”
Jim Liu, the 2010 U.S. Junior Amateur champion, is among four players at 3-under-par 69. Liu, who is playing in his fifth Junior Amateur and was the runner-up last year, had it to 5-under after 15 holes but bogeyed Nos. 16 and 18. He pulled his driver to the left on the 16th, a drivable par-4, and his chip went over the green. Liu lipped out a 6-foot par putt on his final hole.
“It was a good score; you have to feel somewhat decent about it,” Liu said. “You are trying not to dig a hole for yourself. It starts all over in match play.”
Brian DePasquale is a manager of championship communications for the USGA. Email him at email@example.com.