ORLANDO, Florida (December 28, 2015) -- Maxence De Craecker is a name you don't forget once you've heard it.
De Craecker, a former member of the Belgian National Golf Team, and his friend Tiago Rodrigues (a Portuguese National Team member who represented his country at the World Amateur Team Championship) joined forces over a year ago to plan the Orlando International Amateur, which began today at Orange County National near Orlando.
The pair have attracted a strong field of college age golfers from the U.S. and abroad, many in Florida to participate in the Dixie Amateur, the South Beach International, or both.
With a later tee time, Italian Stefano Mazzoli posted a 4-under 68 to lead the field after day one. An eagle on the second - a 512 yard par 5 - put Mazzoli in great position from the start. In addition to the eagle, he posted four birdies and two straight bogeys on Nos. 10 and 11.
Three players who fired 69 are in close pursuit.
Luis Gagne (3-under 69) was the first to break 70 today at the challenging, 7350-yard Panther Lake Golf Course. His card had just one bogey and he was 3-under for his last five holes.
Gagne is a freshman golfer at LSU who played his high school golf at Orlando Christian Prep, where he once fired 8-under 28 in a high school match at North Shore Golf Club.
Another 69 was posted by Rylan Porter in very similar fashion -- four birdies against a single bogey.
Ryan Carter, the final player at 69, finished the hottest, going birdie-eagle to cap off a 5-under 31 on the back nine after starting with three bogeys and a 38 on the front.
The tournament will also be played at the second course at Orange County National, Crooked Cat. It's equally difficult, especially if Florida's winter winds start blowing.
Both courses have hosted the final stage of PGA Tour qualifying, when a full card could be earned. The enormous, circular range plays host to the world's largest demo day in January when the PGA Merchandise Show hits Orlando.