New Zealand's Hillier Fires 67 at Pebble to Lead After Round 1
August 13, 2018 | Pebble Beach, Calif.
By Ron Driscoll, USGA
Daniel Hillier, of New Zealand, shot 4-under-par 67 at Pebble Beach Golf Links, a round highlighted by an eagle 3 on the 14th hole, for the best score of the day on Monday in the first round of stroke play of the 118th U.S. Amateur Championship.
Hillier, 19, a two-time New Zealand Amateur champion, made five birdies and holed a 110-yard shot for eagle on the 581-yard, par-5 14th hole. His 67 was one stroke better than two players, Trevor Phillips, of Inman, S.C., and Isaiah Salinda, of South San Francisco, Calif.
Phillips, 20, who is entering his junior year at the University of Georgia, made six birdies in carding the day’s best score on stroke-play co-host Spyglass Hill Golf Course. Salinda, 21, a senior at Stanford University, also made one of the day’s eagles, with his coming on the par-5 sixth hole at Pebble Beach, where he hit a 6-iron second shot to 25 feet and made the putt.
“It was a pretty nerve-racking start, obviously being my first U.S. Amateur and being at Pebble Beach,” said Hillier, who is No. 27 in the World Amateur Golf Ranking and will compete for New Zealand in next month’s World Amateur Team Championship in Ireland. “But my caddie is a good friend of mine and we kept everything nice and relaxed, and I managed to put a good score up on the board. It’s a pretty awesome feeling.”
Salinda, 21, who won the Pacific Coast Amateur at The Olympic Club on July 27, was playing Pebble Beach for just the second time, counting his U.S. Amateur practice round.
“I felt like I was prepared and knew the course well enough,” said Salinda, who is competing in his first USGA championship. “I’m sure I’ll learn it more as the week goes on.”
Cole Hammer, 18, of Houston, Texas, an incoming freshman at the University of Texas who teamed with Garrett Barber in May to win the U.S. Amateur Four-Ball, was one of two players to shoot 2-under 69 at Pebble Beach. Hammer, who recently won the Western Amateur, played in a group with Salinda. Hammer was joined at that score by William Gordon, 22, of Davidson, N.C., who is entering his senior year at Vanderbilt University.
Michael Thorbjornsen, of Wellesley, Mass., and Akshay Bhatia, of Wake Forest, N.C., 16-year-olds who squared off in the U.S. Junior Amateur final three weeks ago, a match won by Thorbjornsen, were both among 14 players who shot 70 – six of them at Spyglass Hill (par 72) and eight at Pebble Beach (par 71).
A total of 312 players will switch courses on Tuesday. Following the second round, the low 64 scorers advance to the match-play bracket, which starts on Wednesday morning, exclusively on Pebble Beach. TV coverage begins on Wednesday with the Round of 64 on FS1 from 5-8 p.m. EDT.
- Raul Pereda of Mexico made a memorable birdie on the par-4 eighth hole at Pebble Beach in his 1-under-par round of 70. Pereda converted a 10-foot putt following a knockdown 7-iron from 165 yards, which he struck from the precipice of the cliff that plunges into Carmel Bay after his tee shot ran through the fairway of the 431-yard par 4. “It was a little risky because I looked down and I had a little bit of fear that I was going to fall down,” said Pereda.
- Austin Squires, 21, of Union, Ky., hopes to mirror some of the USGA success of his head coach at the University of Cincinnati, Doug Martin, who won the 1984 U.S. Junior Amateur and was a member of the 1989 USA Walker Cup Team.
- Kristoffer Reitan, 20, of Norway, nearly recorded a double eagle on the par-5 seventh hole at Spyglass Hill. His second shot, a 6-iron from 205 yards, landed 10 feet short of the hole, hit the flagstick and stopped 2 feet away. He made the short eagle putt and shot 1-under 71.
- Of the five players in the field who played in the 1999 U.S. Amateur, the best score was recorded by Sam O’Dell (74 at Pebble Beach), followed by Jeff Wilson (75 at Spyglass Hill), Sean Knapp (76 at Pebble Beach), Danny Paniccia (77 at Pebble Beach) and 67-year-old Paul Simson (78 at Pebble Beach).
- Three sons of major champions who competed did not fare as well as they might have hoped. Gary Nicklaus, 49, son of eight-time USGA champion Jack Nicklaus, finished bogey-bogey-double bogey in a round of 6-over 78 at Spyglass Hill. Carter Toms, son of 2001 PGA champion and 2018 U.S. Senior Open champion David Toms, shot 9-over 80 at Pebble Beach. Thomas Lehman, son of 1996 Open Championship winner Tom Lehman, shot 82 at Pebble Beach.
Raul Pereda of Mexico after his 1-under-par 70 at Pebble Beach on how he stays focused:
“I let myself play. I enjoyed it. Out here I think if you don't enjoy it, it's tough, because you see a lot of beautiful landscapes. I'm lucky that my sports psychologist is on the bag this week, and that really helps me because I feel safe, positive during the round. I feel calm when it comes to tough situations.”
Caleb Ramirez of Blythe, Calif., on his philosophy after his 1-over-par 72:
“Just go out and play as you would back home. Makes it a lot easier when you're not worried about the stress of the atmosphere. You think about it too much, you might get in your own head. So, I just try to pretend like I'm back home playing golf, just try to put some free-flowing swings on some golf shots.”
Akshay Bhatia, runner-up in the 2018 U.S. Junior Amateur, on his impressions of Pebble Beach:
“I was telling my caddie and my playing competitors, it's amazing that someone saw this in their eye and designed it. I mean, just the views and the golf course itself is just so scenic and so special.”
Trevor Phillips of Inman, S.C., on why he has not played in U.S. Amateur since 2014:
“I tore my ACL and meniscus and my MCL when I was snowboarding in Boone Mountain, N.C. It just took me a while mentally. It probably took my first year of college and a little bit of this year, about two tournaments, the Carmel Cup and one more, and then I started playing well in Oregon at the Nike Invitational.”
Gary Nicklaus, on his disappointing round of 78:
“It’s always great being in a USGA event. It’s the pinnacle. But you'd rather not shoot 78 when you do it. I played a lot better than 78. I think the longest putt I made was about 4 feet. I hit a lot of fairways and hit quite a few greens and didn't make any putts and had a poor finish.”
An experience of a lifetime. @UNCGMGolf’s Nick Lyerly is participating in the 118th #USAmateur at famed Pebble Beach this week.— UNCG Athletics (@uncgsports) August 13, 2018
Check back throughout the week for updates and RT to wish Nick good luck! pic.twitter.com/QNRbcK08Fj
Ron Driscoll is the senior manager of editorial services for the USGA. Email him at email@example.com.