PALATKA, Fla. — Andreas Halvorsen has made an important step in defending his title at the Florida Azalea Amateur. In Friday's opening round, the class-of-2015 junior golfer from Norway shot a five-under par 65 to lead by one.
Playing Palatka Golf Club, Halvorsen shot a 65 in last year's win, but in the second round, bookended by an opening-round 67 and final-round 73.
Mathew Brittan and Jacob Kline fired 66 on day one to share second place while Steven Chervony and Spencer Slayden are tied for fourth at 67.
Overall, 20 players are under par and within four shots of the lead. Even further down the leaderboard, 33 total players are within six shots of Halvorsen with 36 holes remaining over the weekend.
Started 12 years after the well-known Azalea Invitational at the Country Club of Charleston as a two-man team tourney, the Florida Azalea field has over the years boasted players who have gone on to greatness at the next level. Tommy Aaron, who teamed with Dan Sykes for the 1960 Florida Azalea team title, went on to win the 1973 Masters. Bob Murphy, winner of back-to- back Florida Azalea titles while playing for the University of Florida golf team in 1965-66, was an 11-time winner on the PGA Tour and is currently a golf analyst for NBC.
More recently, there is the 1997 champ Ryuji Imada of Japan. Leading the list of those not winning the Florida Azalea is Arron Oberholser. The winner of the 2006 AT&T Pebble Beach, Oberholser was runner-up to Palatka’s Sean Pacetti in the 1998 event.
This 54-hole event kicks off Friday and wraps up Sunday.