MARBLEHEAD, Mass. (July 9, 2012) -- He may only be 20 years old, but Christopher Melvin (Walpole CC) is playing like a veteran at the 104th Massachusetts Amateur Championship, which is being held this week at Tedesco Country Club.
Melvin, a rising junior at Bowling Green University, fired a 3-under par 67 this morning to lead the field of 144 competitors heading into the second and final round of stroke play.
Following the second round of play on Tuesday, the field will be reduced to the low 32 scorers and only those players will continue on to match play, which begins on Wednesday.
"It's a huge relief actually," said Melvin. "Now I can go out tomorrow and shoot a decent number and know that I'll probably make the cut. I just need to have the same attitude that is one shot at a time. I wasn't getting ahead of myself out there today which I normally do so that's good."
On a layout that can ruin a scorecard quickly (there were 765 bogies and 163 double bogies carded on Monday), Melvin was a picture of patience as he finished with four birdies and one bogey.
"My ball striking was so-so, but I really didn't have any bad shots today," said Melvin. "All of my average shots were where they needed to be, I made a bunch of good putts and got up and down from everywhere I needed to. It was just a great round."
It didn't take much time for Melvin to hit his groove. He hit his tee shot on the 199-yard, par 3 3rd hole to two feet and then sent his approach on the 423-yard, par 4 4th hole to five feet to go 2-under par through four holes. His only bogey on the day came on the very next hole, but he quickly made up for that miscue by two putting for birdie on the 505-yard, par 5 9th hole. Then - on what is considered the more challenging back nine - Melvin was unflappable as he carded eight pars and one birdie on the 454-yard, par 4 16th hole.
"Two putting and making a birdie on nine and turning in 2 under was great," said Melvin. "I was plotting around at 2 under on the back nine and then birdied 16 which was fantastic."
Despite his young age, Melvin is no stranger to this event and to match play for that matter. In the four years that he has competed at the Massachusetts Amateur Championship, he has advanced to match play twice. In both cases (in 2008 and 2010), Melvin lost in the first round. One year ago at Wyantenuck Country Club, the Medfield native missed match play by just one stroke.
"I am definitely looking for a little revenge from last year," said Melvin. "I have made match play two out of four times. I keep getting to match play and then losing, so my goal is to make it past the first round."
His preparation this time around is not exactly what he had hoped for. After all, Melvin is spending his summer working a full-time internship at Northwestern Mutual based in Boston. A bonus for Melvin this week is that his mentor – Michael Sexton (Brae Burn CC) - won't be missing him at the office since he too is in the field.
"I have been working every day and doing the real-life thing," said Melvin, a 2010 graduate of Medfield Senior High School. "I am having a good summer and haven't been playing much, but apparently I haven't missed a beat."