BROOKLINE, Mass. – Nick Hardy, 17, of Northbrook, Ill., a high school senior, shot 5-under-par 65 at Charles River Country Club for a one-stroke lead after the first day of stroke play at the 2013 U.S. Amateur Championship.
Hardy posted six birdies, including four on his inward nine, against one bogey on the 6,547-yard, par-70 Donald Ross layout, the championship stroke-play companion course to The Country Club, in nearby Newton.
“I gave myself a lot of opportunities at the beginning of the round and I birdied No. 4 and No. 8,” Hardy said. “I also hit a lot of fairways and greens to get off to a good start. Good ball-striking is one of my strengths.”
Richy Werenski, 22, of South Hadley, Mass., trailed by one stroke after his 4-under-par 66 at Charles River, which included a double eagle 2 – the second of his career – on the par-5, 558-yard 16th hole.
The 2013 U.S. 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 Sunday at 9 a.m.
The U.S. Amateur is one of 13 national championships conducted annually by the United States Golf Association, 10 of which are strictly for amateurs.
Hardy, who advanced to the second round of match play at the 2013 U.S. Junior Amateur and plans to attend the University of Illinois, recently played a round of golf with NBA great Michael Jordan. His confidence was boosted by his finish at the Junior Amateur.
“It helped me prepare for [the Amateur],” Hardy said. “It feels great to be competing against the best. I’m going to stay aggressive at The Country Club.”
Werenski, who plays golf at Georgia Tech and won the 2012 Porter Cup, holed a 240-yard hybrid for his double eagle. His round also included four birdies and three bogeys.
"I just kind of forgot about it,” Werenski said of the double eagle, which came on his seventh hole. “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. If you get too jacked up, it can kind of mess you up. I try to stay pretty even.
“I think I can putt better. My putting was very average today and I had a lot of misses.”
Four players were two strokes back at 3-under-par 67: Englishmen Neil Raymond, 27, and Matthew Fitzpatrick, 18, the low amateur at the 2013 British Open; Bryson Dechambeau, 19, of Clovis, Calif., and Tyler Klava, 21, of Pace, Fla.
At The Country Club, which is 7,310 yards and par 70, Raymond posted five birdies and two bogeys in his first U.S. Amateur. He carried his own bag and prefers to use a pull cart when he plays, but opted against one because of the heavy rough.
“I fought my way around the course pretty well and didn’t make any rash decisions,” Raymond said. “I kept it in play and out of the rough. I was pretty aggressive to be honest and was taking a lot of shots on. I wanted to be aggressive because you lay back around here, you’re miles in to every hole.”
With hopes of making the 2013 Great Britain and Ireland Walker Cup team, Raymond played the best round of the day at The Country Club.
In fact, only 18 sub-par scores were recorded for the day, just three at The Country Club.
“This is as good as my golfing memories can have [to shoot 67] at 7,300 yards, par 70 with the deepest rough and smallest greens I’ve ever seen,” said Raymond, who won the 2013 St. Andrews Links Trophy at the Old Course. “It will sit with me for a very long time. It’s the toughest golf course I’ve ever played given the length of the rough, the green size and the length. No.18 is the smallest target I’ve ever seen for a green.”
The other three players who shot 67 – Fitzpatrick, the 2012 British Boys champion who will play golf at Northwestern University in the fall; Dechambeau, who plays at Southern Methodist University and won the 2013 Trans-Miss Championship; and Klava – all played at Charles River.
Defending champion Steven Fox, 22, of Hendersonville, Tenn., opened with a 2-over-par 72 at The Country Club. "A 72 out here is not bad," Fox said. "You've got to play well at Charles River, but you can either make it or break it here."
Jordan Niebrugge, 19, of Mequon, Wis., the 2013 U.S. Amateur Public Links champion, shot one-under 69 at Charles River.
Pete Kowalski is the director of championship communications for the USGA. E-mail him firstname.lastname@example.org.