U.S. AMATEUR PUBLIC LINKS
Opening 63 matches best 18-hole round, gives two-stroke lead after first round at Laurel Hill July 14, 2013 By Michael Trostel, USGA

Eric Sugimoto shot a record-tying, 7-under 63 during the first round of stroke-play qualifying at the 2013 U.S. Amateur Public Links Championship on Monday at Laurel Hill Golf Club. (USGA/Joel Kowsky)

LORTON, Va. – Eric Sugimoto made five birdies on his opening nine to card a record-tying, 7-under 63 and take a two-stroke lead following the first round of stroke-play qualifying at the 2013 U.S. Amateur Public Links Championship being conducted at the 7,022-yard, par-70 Laurel Hill Golf Club.

Garrett Rank and Ian Davis are two strokes back after shooting 5-under 65s, followed by Sam Saunders, who posted a 66.

On a day when the Heat Index reached triple digits in the metro-Washington D.C. area, Sugimoto, 19, of San Diego, was as scorching as the weather. Starting on No. 10, he birdied his opening hole and followed it with a kick-in 3 at the par-4 12th. Sugimoto converted another birdie at the long par-5 15th, stuffed a 7-iron to within a few feet for a birdie 2 at the 16th and closed his first nine with another birdie at the par-5 18th.

In all, he registered seven birdies, including one on each of the three par 5s. His bogey-free day matched Danny Green’s first-round 63 at Rush Creek G.C. in Maple Grove, Minn., in 2004 for the lowest 18-hole score in APL history.

Shooting a 63 is great wherever I’m playing, but I wasn’t really thinking about it, said Sugimoto. I just stuck to my game plan, hit a couple close early and took advantage. Everything just went well for me today. It was nice to have it click.

Sugimoto, a rising junior at the University of the Pacific, led his team to the Big West Conference Championship this spring, where he won the individual title in a two-hole playoff.

I have lot more confidence in my game from playing in the bigger tournaments, said Sugimoto. I now know that I can compete and am beginning to feel very comfortable. I know I can be there in the end.

Rank, a hockey referee who finished runner-up at last year’s U.S. Mid-Amateur, made six birdies and one bogey on the 2005 Bill Love design. Starting on the 10th hole, the 25-year-old from Canada made eight pars and one birdie on his first nine, then kicked it into gear on the second nine with five more birdies, including an 8-iron to 3 feet on the 186-yard, par-3 fourth.

I drove it well, hit a bunch of greens and made a few 15 footers, said Rank. It wasn’t anything spectacular, but I gave myself a lot of chances out there.

Rank finished second at last week’s Ontario Amateur and has top-20 finishes at the Northeast Amateur and the Sahalee Players Championship this summer. The Ontario native hopes to qualify for or receive an exemption into the PGA Tour’s RBC Canadian Open next week. He will play in the U.S. Mid-Amateur in October with hopes of avenging his 1-down loss to Nathan Smith in 2012 at Conway Farms Golf Club in suburban Chicago. This week, he is hoping to draw on that experience at the APL.

Now I know what it takes to play eight rounds in six days, said Rank. I think I can use that to my advantage.

Davis, of Edmond, Okla., bogeyed his first hole, but played nearly flawlessly from there, closing the round with birdies on four of his last six holes.

Competing against two of his Oklahoma State teammates, Talor Gooch and Jordan Niebrugge, and with assistant coach Brian Guetz on his bag, Davis has high hopes for his first USGA championship. He won the Royal Oaks Intercollegiate in October 2012, finished eighth in the NCAA Division I Championship and recently qualified for the 2013 U.S. Amateur that will be played next month at The Country Club in Brookline, Mass.

I’ve built a lot of confidence from playing well at nationals, said Davis. And it’s great to have [Gooch and Niebrugge] here too. It should be a really fun week.

Three off Sugimoto’s pace is Saunders, 21, of Albuquerque, N.M. He was the last person added to the 156-player field, gaining entry when 2012 semifinalist, Kyle Beversdorf, withdrew because of an injury. Saunders was the first alternate from the Albuquerque qualifier and needed some exceptional play even to earn that spot.

There was only one spot available in the qualifier and Greg Condon was beating everybody by 10, said Saunders. I was playing horribly and was something like seven shots down to the second place guy with nine holes to go.

But Saunders shot a 32 on his final nine and earned the first alternate spot by winning the first playoff hole. But by last Thursday, Saunders’ still had not received a call from the USGA, and his chances of making the championship were bleak.

I kind of gave up hope and signed up for another tournament, said Saunders, who advanced to the second round at the 2012 APL. I thought it was over. But when I got that message on late Thursday, I made all my travel arrangements and got up here.

Despite playing only one practice round, Saunders took full advantage on Monday. Starting on the 10th, he recorded seven birdies, including a stretch of four in a row on from No. 2 en route to his 4-under 66.

Other notable opening-round performances include 2012 APL stroke-play medalist, James Erkenbeck (67), 2008 U.S. Junior Amateur champion, Cameron Peck (68), low amateur at last month’s U.S. Open, Michael Kim (69) and 2011 U.S. Junior Amateur runner-up, Chelso Barrett (70).

The U.S. Amateur Public Links is one of 13 national championships conducted annually by the United States Golf Association, 10 of which are strictly for amateurs.

Golfers will play the second round of stroke-play qualifying Tuesday. The field will then be cut to the low 64 scorers for match play, which begins Wednesday. The 36-hole championship match is scheduled for Saturday.

Michael Trostel is the senior curator/historian for the USGA Museum. Email him at mtrostel@usga.org.

Results

Lorton, Va. – Results from the first round of stroke-play qualifying at the 2013 U.S. Amateur Public Links Championship being played at 7,022-yard, par-70 Laurel Hill Golf Club:

Eric Sugimoto, San Diego, Calif. 33-30--63
Garrett Rank, Canada 31-34--65
Ian Davis, Edmond, Okla. 34-31--65
Sam Saunders, Albuquerque, N.M. 32-34--66
Addison Lambeth, Browns Summit, N.C. 33-34--67
James Erkenbeck, San Diego, Calif. 35-32--67
Talor Gooch, Midwest City, Okla. 34-34--68
Alberto Sanchez, Nogales, Ariz. 34-34--68
Xander McDonald-Smith, Rockaway Park, N.Y. 36-32--68
Austin Smotherman, Loomis, Calif. 32-36--68
Cameron Peck, Olympia, Wash. 34-34--68
Derek Fribbs, Boulder, Colo. 35-33--68
Jonathan Hauter, Morton, Ill. 32-36--68
Carlson Cox IV, Church Hill, Tenn. 35-34--69
Paul McConnell, Garland, Texas 36-33--69
Michael Kim, Del Mar, Calif. 35-34--69
Kyle Henning, Brookfield, Wis. 34-35--69
Jooho Lee, Republic of Korea 36-33--69
Kyle Weldon, St. Louis, Mo. 38-31--69
P. J. Samiere, Kailua, Hawaii 33-36--69
Justin Shin, Canada 36-33--69
Michael Schmitmeyer, St Marys, Ohio 34-35--69
Nicholas Scott, Union, Ohio 36-33--69
George Cunningham, Tucson, Ariz. 35-34--69
Sean Knapp, Oakmont, Pa. 35-34--69
Andy Drohen, Granville, Mass. 35-34--69
Anton Arboleda, La Canada, Calif. 33-36--69
Ricky Jones, Rockland, Maine 36-33--69
Kyle Jones, Taylor, Ariz. 34-35--69
Mario Clemens, Mexico 35-35--70
Thomas Lim, Moorpark, Calif. 37-33--70
Zecheng Dou, People's Republic of China 37-33--70
Grant Milling, Springfield, Ill. 35-35--70
Blaze Hogan, Big Rapids, Mich. 34-36--70
Robby Shelton IV, Wilmer, Ala. 36-34--70
Sam Horsfield, United Kingdom 34-36--70
Chelso Barrett, Keene, N.H. 36-34--70
Greg Condon, Orange County, Calif. 36-34--70
Lucas Kim, Canada 37-34--71
Zachary Moore, Orlando, Fla. 38-33--71
Ryan Siegler, West Windsor, N.J. 38-33--71
Trevor Cone, Concord, N.C. 34-37--71
Cameron Harrell, Colorado Springs, Colo. 37-34--71
Jordan Niebrugge, Mequon, Wis. 38-33--71
Nick Brothers, Crystal River, Fla. 35-36--71
Mitchell McLeroy, Mansfield, Texas 38-33--71
Nick Pandelena, Atkinson, N.H. 37-34--71
Zachary Wright, Phoenix, Ariz. 34-37--71
Will Brink, Manteca, Calif. 37-34--71
John Oda, Honolulu, Hawaii 35-37--72
Brett Patterson, McMinnville, Tenn. 36-36--72
Brandon Cigna, Arlington, Va. 38-34--72
Ryan Nagy, Raleigh, N.C. 35-37--72
Sam Straka, Valdosta, Ga. 37-35--72
David Tepe, Cincinnati, Ohio 37-35--72
Jon Dutoit, Chaska, Minn. 38-34--72
Zac Blair, Ogden, Utah 37-35--72
Christopher Schriedel, Helotes, Texas 39-33--72
Sean Kelly, Staten Island, N.Y. 36-36--72
Jon Trasamar, Minneapolis, Minn. 33-39--72
Tyler Merkel, Evansville, Ind. 37-35--72
Mark Cusic, California, Md. 36-36--72
James Glenn, Houston, Texas 37-35--72
Ken Miyata, Kapaa, Hawaii 38-34--72
Justin Wenger, Greenwood, Ind. 37-35--72
Payne Gniewek, Austin, Texas 37-35--72
Max Tylke, Rosemount, Minn. 36-36--72
Ricky Desantis, San Marcos, Calif. 38-35--73
Chad Merzbacher, Dublin, Ohio 37-36--73
Peter Kyo Won Koo, Republic of Korea 35-38--73
Jacob Wilner, Reno, Nev. 37-36--73
Carter Page, Waynesville, N.C. 35-38--73
Kevin Josephson, New Britain, Conn. 37-36--73
Nick Sherwood, Albany, Ore. 36-37--73
Ji Soo Park, Republic of Korea 37-36--73
Alex Chiarella, Pukalani, Hawaii 39-34--73
Chris Cassetta, Winston Salem, N.C. 35-38--73
Paul Misko, Thousand Oaks, Calif. 37-36--73
Nathan Clark, Mason, Mich. 36-37--73
Mayson Petty, Charlotte, N.C. 39-34--73
Andrew Bailey, Cleveland, Ohio 36-37--73
Herbie Aikens, Pembroke, Mass. 37-36--73
Chris Collins, Tucson, Ariz. 37-37--74
Glenn Przybylski, Frankfort, Ill. 39-35--74
Taeksoo Kim, Republic of Korea 37-37--74
Cory Gladstone, San Diego, Calif. 38-36--74
Jarred Garcia, Jacksonville, Fla. 36-38--74
Benjamin Lein, Diamond Bar, Calif. 40-34--74
Chris Yeom, New Hyde Park, N.Y. 39-35--74
Carson Stepler, McKinney, Texas 35-39--74
Brendan McKinney, Cockeysville, Md. 34-40--74
Mark Sider, Chicago, Ill. 37-37--74
Christian Dolan, Islip, N.Y. 39-35--74
David Griffin, Baton Rouge, La. 38-36--74
Tyler Klava, Pace, Fla. 34-40--74
Nathan Kerns, Ironton, Ohio 36-38--74
Mitchell Rutledge, Creve Coeur, Mo. 41-33--74
Tanner Owens, Claremore, Okla. 37-37--74
Zach Steffen, Des Moines, Iowa 37-37--74
Joe Migdal, Ballwin, Mo. 39-35--74
Mark Valliere, Canada 40-34--74
Julio Vegas, Venezuela 37-37--74
Sean Packer, Auburn, Wash. 35-39--74
John Yu, Fresh Meadows, N.Y. 36-39--75
Dalen Yamauchi, Hilo, Hawaii 39-36--75
Joshua Stone, Stockton, Calif. 40-35--75
Ryan Zech, Kearney, Mo. 41-34--75
Jon Veneziano, Mt Dora, Fla. 38-37--75
Nick Moore, Seaside, Calif. 38-37--75
Alex Kline, Ramsey, Minn. 38-37--75
Daniel Northington, Austin, Texas 37-38--75
Trent Karlik, McKees Rocks, Pa. 38-37--75
David Cunningham, Park City, Utah 38-38--76
Scott Strohmeyer, Tuscaloosa, Ala. 34-42--76
Christopher Good, Denver, Colo. 38-38--76
Richard Donegan, Okeechobee, Fla. 40-36--76
T. J. Shuart, Coral Springs, Fla. 38-38--76
Kamaiu Johnson, Tallahassee, Fla. 41-35--76
Mason Casper, Springville, Utah 39-37--76
Todd McDaniel, Lexington, Ky. 38-38--76
Daniel Chian, Indio, Calif. 40-36--76
John Burke, Sacramento, Calif. 40-36--76
Chris Igawa, Hilo, Hawaii 41-35--76
Nicholas Chianello, Gresham, Ore. 36-40--76
Brandon Hortt, Spring Valley, Calif. 40-36--76
Mark Buchholz, Cumming, Ga. 40-37--77
Nikolaj Brons-Piche, Traverse City, Mich. 40-37--77
Andrew McCain, Minneapolis, Minn. 38-39--77
Michael Sharp, Kendallville, Ind. 39-38--77
Lyle Middleton, Conway, Ark. 35-42--77
Sean Clifford, Philadelphia, Pa. 40-37--77
Justin Newby, Parker, Texas 36-41--77
Trey Ka'ahanui, Tempe, Ariz. 46-32--78
Derrick Bongjun Kim, Republic of Korea 38-40--78
Jonathan Feldkamp, Cincinnati, Ohio 38-40--78
Michael Howe, Temecula, Calif. 40-38--78
David Shields, Philadelphia, Pa. 39-39--78
Owen Butler, Fitchburg, Wis. 40-38--78
Tommy Higham, Provo, Utah 40-38--78
Jacob Harper, Beulah, Ala. 40-38--78
Jamey Salmon, Jacksonville, Fla. 40-38--78
Alexander Williamson, The Woodlands, Texas 40-38--78
Jonathan Lai, Hong Kong China 39-40--79
Taylor Montgomery, Las Vegas, Nev. 38-41--79
Nick Tremps, Williamsburg, Va. 40-39--79
Scott Sheldon, Omaha, Neb. 40-39--79
Dennis Holub, Reminderville, Ohio 41-38--79
Dean Sakata, Diamond Bar, Calif. 37-43--80
Trent Wallace, Las Vegas, Nev. 40-40--80
Korey Smith, Murfreesboro, Tenn. 38-42--80
Carter Pool, San Diego, Calif. 43-38--81
Bret Lawrence, Morris, Conn. 41-40--81
Landon Lyons, Baton Rouge, La. 41-40--81
Michael Slovitt, Chicago, Ill. 45-40--85
Jim Dufficy, Tinton Falls, N.J. 42-43--85
Kamrin Allen, Sheridan, Wyo. 44-42--86