By Jack Persons
CARMICHAEL, Calif. (May 24, 2014) -- Andrew Roberts grew up playing Ancil Hoffman Golf Course. As a teenager, he worked in the pro shop selling clubs and balls. Today, he’s tied for the first round lead of the Memorial Amateur.
Roberts, who hails from Carmichael, made four birdies and a bogey on his way to a three-under 67, and shares the lead with Eric Taylor of nearby Citrus Heights.
“[Andrew] is one of the nicest young men you’ve ever met,” said Dane Bohrer, the head golf professional at Ancil Hoffman. “It’s always nice to see the local guys win it. Playing well at your own course is never as easy as it seems.”
Roberts admitted he had not been playing well leading up to the tournament, but felt that his own expectations, especially on his home course, had dissipated and allowed him to play a little more freely.
“It’s easy to put a lot of pressure on yourself,” he said. “Today, when I didn’t think I was going to play very well, I just took it one shot at a time, and it worked out.”
The course, a par-72 converted to 70, yielded 13 rounds under par today. John Rochelle, the tournament’s director, noted that today had the most red numbers he has ever seen in the history of the tournament, attributing it to the strong field and ideal conditions.
Another local favorite, Cameron Champ of Sacramento, managed an even-par 70 to put himself in contention for the final 36 holes. Champ, a graduating senior in high school, has committed to play for Texas A&M in the fall.
College favorites Matt Hansen, of UC Davis, and Jonathan De Los Reyes, of St. Mary’s, also shot 70. Hansen won the Big West Conference Championship in April, and De Los Reyes recently took the Alameda Commuters Championship, beating the field by 11 strokes.
Matt Cohn, last year’s runner-up to champion Josh Stone posted a 71. He had gotten it to three under after 12 holes, but made a few costly bogeys on the way in. Stone did not return to defend his title, as he has since turned professional.
Otto Black of Toledo, Ohio and Chris Minton of Houston lead the out-of-state contingent with 68s. While many Memorial contestants are from California, it always attracts an international field. This year, players from Australia, China, Japan, South Korea, and Spain are competing.
As of right now, this tournament is still anybody’s to win; there are 33 players within four strokes of the lead.
The local consensus at Ancil Hoffman, however, wants to see the trophy in Roberts’ hands on Monday afternoon.