LAKE FOREST, Illinois (August 2, 2016) -- Golfers have been teeing it up at The Knollwood Club since 1924, and the H.S. Colt and C.H. Alison layout has hosted many competitive events.
The U.S. Mid-Am qualifying rounds were played there in 2012, and the Chicago District Am in 2015. PGA section events and U.S. Open qualifiers have also been contested at Knollwood. But Sam Horsfield, holder of several course records (including a 58 at his home course Highlands Reserve in Florida) hadn't played Knollwood yet.
Look out competitive course record -- Horsfield went around the fast, firm par-71 layout with 10 pars and 8 birdies, and all on a day when he was just trying to play smart.
"It's going to be a long week," said Horsfield. "I was just trying to play smart and hit fairways, so I could get more spin on the ball hitting into these firm greens."
Horsfield's strategy worked -- the Florida golfer who won the Phil Mickelson Outstanding Freshman Award this past season hit an amazing 17 greens on a day when many golfers struggled.
Starting off on the back nine, Horsfield's run of 4-straight birdies on Nos. 13-16 was a highlight (three of the holes were par-4s) and he capped off a 5-under 31 with a birdie on No. 18. More solid play on the par 35 front nine, and a final four foot putt on the last brought Horsfield in at 3-under 32 for that magic 63 total.
Knollwood Head Professional Wade Gurysh told AmateurGolf.com that one of his members (Max Scodro) once posted 63 from the tips in a casual round, but Horsfield's 63 is the new competitive course record. At least for now.
"I didn't see the stimp reading on the greens today," said Gurysh. "But I'm guessing they were running at 13, and they are very firm. The rough wasn't quite as long as it was in 2012 for the U.S. Mid-Am, but it's still quite a test."
For Horsfield, posting low numbers became much easier in competition after getting used to shooting them at his home course.
"My home course is pretty easy," explained Horsfield. "After shooting lots of low rounds it was easier to do it in competition."
His Twitter handle may be @hr59sam, but he's actually posted 58 at Highlands Reserve to break his own course record.
"Not many people know that," he said.
Giving chase is Eric Ricard, three strokes back after a bogey free round of his own, a 66. Ricard is from Shreveport, Louisiana -- he plays at LSU.
Vincent Whaley (McKinney Texas) and Won Jun Lee (a high school senior from Saddlebrook, Florida) are another stroke back after rounds of 67. And, as Horsfield said. After 36 holes of Tueday-Wednesday play, the field is cut. After Thursday's 36 hole stroke play marathon, the field is whittled down to the "Sweet 16" for match play. That's some week of golf.