California Amateur: Trimble leads first day

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PEBBLE BEACH, June 18 -- Blake Trimble of Rancho Santa Fe overcame the strong winds raking Monterey Peninsula Country Club today and finished birdie-eagle to complete a 5-under-par 67, good for a four-shot lead after the first round the 96th California Amateur Championship.

The 20-year-old Trimble, who is transferring from UNLV to the University of San Diego this fall, had five birdies and an eagle 3 on the Dunes Course, one of two being used in the stroke-play portion of the week-long event.

He's four shots in front of Jose Sanchez of Carmel, who had two advantages today. He was in the first group teeing off this morning on the Shore Course, thus avoiding some of the strong, cold winds that raked the club's two courses, and he certainly knows the layout because he's the club's chef (in fact, he went right to work after finishing his round.

Sanchez's 1-under-par 71 included a wild front nine, which saw him make three birdies, three bogies, a double-bogey and just two pars for a 2-over-par 37. However, he rallied with three birdies on his last eight holes and held the lead for nearly six hours until Trimble came in at the end of the day.

Sanchez is a shot in front of a quartet of golfers who shot 72. Defending champion Jordan Nasser of Anaheim Hills is one of three golfers who posted 1-over-par 73s today. Nasser also led the South team to a five shot lead after the first round of the Roger Lapham Challenge Cup, which is played concurrently with the stroke-play rounds.

The stroke-play portion of the event continues tomorrow (Tuesday) with the players switching courses starting times being somewhat altered. It may not help; the forecast is for even strong winds tomorrow. The low 32 scorers at the conclusion of play tomorrow advance to match play on the Shore Course beginning Wednesday. Match play continues Thursday and Friday with the 36-hole championship match scheduled for Saturday.

Trimble was in the next-to-last group to tee off today, which meant he felt the full force of the 30-mph winds that howled across the courses. Although his birdie-eagle finish was impressive, he was happiest to escape with a bogey on the 177-yard, par-4, 14th hole where the tee shot that must negotiate the Pacific Ocean waves crashing on the rocks all along the right side of the hole.

"I was happy I birdied Nos. 9 and 10 because I wanted as many shots as possible heading into the 14th," said Trimble later. On a hole where without wind he might hit seven iron or even eight iron, Trimble blasted a hybrid club to the edge of the green and then three-putted for bogey.

"I hit a lot of fairways and greens today," said Trimble after his round (in fact, he hit 15 of 18 greens and made two birdies and the eagle on the par-5 holes). "I told my dad that even-par would be a good score in this wind, so I'm really happy to finish the way I did."

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--Story courtesy SCGA

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