ST. LOUIS, MO (September 17, 2016) -- Joe Russo and Randal Lewis posted 3-under 68's and they share the first round lead at the U.S. Senior Amateur being played at Old Warson Country Club. 10 players will begin the final day of stroke-play within three-strokes of the lead.
Russo, part of the early wave, carded four birdies, an eagle on the par-5 12th and three bogeys during his first round. The birdies for Russo came on Nos. 1, 6, 8 and 14.
"I was so nervous on the first tee. I can't even tell you how nervous I was,” Russo said of his nerves. “I texted my wife and son and they texted back to stop being nervous. So opening with a birdie definitely calmed me down. If you bogey the first hole, you're playing catch-up right away."
2011 U.S. Mid-Amateur champion Randal Lewis had a very similar looking scorecard, as he as well birdied four, eagled one and bogeyed three. The eagle for Lewis, a quarterfinalist last year, came on the par-5 8th, while the birdies were tallied on the 2nd, 11th, 12th and 17th holes.
Lewis' eagle came as the result of a chip in while his birdies on the 2nd and 11th holes were the result of stuffed approach shots.
"I had some good yardages today that were comfortable with the wedges, so that's always good when you can get a number where you don't have to take too much off," said Lewis who is utilizing the services of caddie Mike Smith this week. Smith has caddied at Old Warson Country Club since 1968 and he carried Jack Nicklaus' bag during the 1971 Ryder Cup.
"I had a phenomenal caddie. He was just unbelievable. He's a genius when it comes to this golf course,” said Lewis. “When you have somebody that you have total confidence in and knows the course as well as he does, all I have to do is replicate what he tells me. That helped a bunch, because I made a lot of putts today and his reads were spot-on every time."
Bryan Norton, the 2003 U.S. Mid-Amateur runner-up, will start Sunday's round in third place at 2-under. Norton carded a 68 with four birdies and two bogeys. In both instances Norton's circles came on consecutive holes; Nos. 1, 2 and then 11 and 12.
The only two other players under-par are Gary Robinson and Randy Haag. Both players are 1-under and tied for fourth.
Defending champion Chip Lutz has some work to do on Sunday as he currently sits in a tie for 81st at 6-over.
Following the completion of play on Sunday the field will be cut to the top-64 for match play to begin Monday.
-The USGA contributed to this story