BANDON, Ore. (Sept. 29, 2007 – Dan Whitaker, 26, of Cle Elum, Wash., and John Adams, 40, of San Clemente, Calif., each shot a 4-under-par 68 Saturday at the Bandon Dunes course to hold the lead after the first round of the U.S. Mid-Amateur Championship at Bandon Dunes Golf Resort.
Whitaker and Adams were two strokes better than six others who posted 70s at the par 72, 6,966-yard Bandon Dunes layout, including 30-year-old Tim Mickelson of San Diego, Phil’s younger brother.
Past champion Austin Eaton (2004) of North Sutton, N.H., posted a 2-under-par 69 and was the low scorer at the par 71, 6,957-yard Bandon Trails, the second course being used for the first two rounds of stroke play through Sunday.
Eaton’s 70 at was one stroke better than five others who posted 71's, including Trip Kuehne of Irving, Texas, a member of the winning 2007 USA Walker Cup team, and 39-year-old Tim Tucker of Coos Bay, Ore., a caddie at the host resort.
Former Mid-Amateur champions, Tim Jackson (1994 and 2001) of Germantown, Tenn., and George Zahringer (2002) of New York, were among six others finishing with 1-under 71s at Bandon Dunes.
Overall, only 23 of the 264 players finished under par, and only six of those under par were at Bandon Trails.
Whitaker, who would one day like to turn professional, finished with five birdies on his final 10 holes.
“I missed one short putt and my wedge play really wasn’t that good,” said Whitaker, who had his father, Tom, as his caddie. “But, I don’t think I missed a fairway. On the first three par 5s I had eagle putts that I left short, but I’m not complaining. I don’t want a do-over, I’ll tell you that. I always like a scorecard with no 5's.”
In contrast to the younger Whitaker, Adams already tasted life as a professional golfer. He played two years on the South American Tour and another on the Canadian Tour before applying for reinstatement as an amateur in 1994 and putting the clubs away, almost for good. He returned to competitive golf at the urging of his wife and was lucky enough to qualify for the 2004 Mid-Amateur at Sea Island, Ga.
“I owe it all to my wife,” said Adams, who made five birdies in his round. “She told me to get back out there. I didn’t even play for a long time, so this is fun. I’m 40 years old. It’s just reality.”
Eaton survived with a good score even though he made three bogeys in the first seven holes. He saved his round by making five putts of more than 12 feet.
“That sure helps,” said Eaton, who reached the semifinals of the U.S. Amateur in 2005. “It’s nice to have a good round under my belt because you don’t want to play catch-up tomorrow.”
A second stroke play round is set for Sunday before the field of 264 is trimmed to the low 64 scorers, who will advance to match play on the Bandon Dunes course.
--Story by Craig Smith, USGA