RADFORD, VA (June 28, 2016) -- Adorned in the blue and orange of his alma mater, the University of Virginia, Ji Soo Park posted the best score on the day in enemy territory during Tuesday’s opening round of stroke play of the 103rd VSGA Amateur Championship. A two-time finalist in the event, Park’s 4-under 68 came early and stood for the duration of the afternoon.
Not to be outdone, a Hokie joined Park near the top of the leaderboard. Playing his college home course, Virginia Tech’s Joey Lane (Reston National GC) shot a 2-under 70 in the afternoon to stand alone in second place. The Commonwealth Clash – the yearlong battle between Virginia’s two Atlantic Coast Conference programs – had seemingly spilled over into the offseason.
Park (1757 GC) and Lane were the only players in the 132-man field to shoot 70 or better Tuesday. Past champion Scott Shingler (Evergreen CC) was the only other player to break par, shooting a 1-under 71. Stroke-play qualifying wraps up Tuesday, with the top 32 competitors advancing to match play starting on Thursday.
Four players shot even-par 72s: Ryan Patrick (Hidden Creek CC), Ryan Muthiora (Spring Creek GC), Drew Brockwell (CC at the Highlands) and Evan Smith (VSGA eClub Roanoke). Brockwell was one of three competitors who qualified for the 2016 U.S. Junior Amateur Championship on Monday at Salisbury CC in Midlothian, and turned around to play 18 in the afternoon Tuesday at Radford.
Thirty-two players shot 75 or better.
Park recently returned to competition after surgery on his right leg forced him to miss a significant amount of time. He competed in a U.S. Open qualifier earlier this year, but the VSGA Amateur is his first true multi-day tournament since returning from injury.
“Sixty-eight on any golf course on any day, I’m pleased with that,” said Park, who lost to Shingler in the 2011 final and Brinson Paolini in the 2013 championship match.
Park made six birdies and two bogeys, including a 40-foot putt that he rolled home off the back fringe on the par-5 3rd hole. He followed that up with a 15-foot birdie putt from the right fringe on No. 4.
“In the morning, the conditions were pretty good,” Park said. “It wasn’t too hot, and it wasn’t windy. The course was playing a little easier.”
Lane, who recently competed in U.S. Open Sectional Qualifying in Maryland, found comfort in the home-course advantage. He made three birdies and one bogey – a three-putt on No. 7 – to post his 70. On the par-5 16th, Lane’s approach chip went way past the hole, but he recovered to drain a 20-foot putt for birdie. He closed his round with a solid chip to within two feet of the hole for a kick-in birdie.
“It’s really hard the first time you play it,” Lane said of the River Course. “But I’ve played it probably about 100 times. I know all the lines off the tee, and the subtle breaks [on the greens]. It’s a lot easier for me than it is for a lot of other guys who haven’t played it as much.”
Shingler got off to a sizzling start in the afternoon, making par on No. 10 before posting three straight birdies. He ran into a rough stretch at the end of his outward nine, making bogey on Nos. 17 and 18. Shingler (Evergreen CC) recovered from a double bogey on No. 3 and made birdies on Nos. 5 and 6 before parring out to end his round.
Shingler was the No. 2 seed after stroke-play qualifying in last year’s Amateur at Farmington CC.
“I almost like to treat it as two tournaments,” Shingler said. “I like to try to be low man, to be medalist, but at the same time, not be super aggressive and attack pins to accomplish that. Out here, you can’t really do that. You’ve got to plot your way and pick your lines off the tee. The greens are pretty small. The holes are long. Fortunately, the chipping areas around the green give you an opportunity to get up and down.”
Five players tied for eighth after shooting 1-over 73: Kevin Archer (Spring Creek GC), Addison Coll (Washington G&CC), Ben Ramsey (Fincastle on the Mountain), Nick Brediger (Hidden Valley CC) and Chris Cassetta (Ballyhack GC). Coll, who plays at Ohio State, was the stroke-play medalist last season. Ramsey and Brediger both play for Radford University.
View results for Virginia Amateur Golf Championship