Aurora, Colo. – Under hot, but ideal conditions Aaron Goldberg, 22, of Carlsbad, Calif., carded a 6-under 65 to take the lead after the first round of stroke play at the 2008 U.S. Amateur Public Links being held at the 7,551-yard, par 71 Murphy Creek Golf Course.
One stroke back are Travis Reid, 21, of Clovis, N.M., and Colorado native Zachary Zaremba, 20, of Pueblo West. Rickie Fowler, 19, of Murrieta, Calif., and Cory Nagy, 19, of Charlotte, N.C., carded 4-under 67s.
Goldberg, a 2007 APL quarterfinalist, only needed 28 putts to finish his day with eight birdies and only two bogeys.
“I made a couple of 15-footers, but I was hitting it pretty good all day,” said Goldberg, who recently graduated from San Diego State University. “I was playing smart.”
Goldberg, who is on the cusp of deciding to turn professional, remains humble despite his past success at the 2007 APL.
“I could go shoot 59 tomorrow, but at match play everybody’s the same,” said Goldberg. “I know I have what it takes to play well here.”
A second round of stroke play will be played on Tuesday, with the low 64 scorers advancing to match play, which begins Wednesday. The 36-hole final is scheduled for Saturday.
Reid was at 6-under par until he bogeyed his final hole (No. 9) by taking two to get out of a greenside bunker after an errant tee shot. He then missed a 15-foot putt for par.
“I missed a few putts and I’m mad about the way the day ended,” said Reid, who is competing in his fourth USGA championship, but has yet to advance to match play. “I [don’t want to come here and have [missing the cut] happen again.”
Zaremba, a first time APL qualifier, finished his round strongly to remain in contention for medalist honors. After starting at No. 10, he was 1-under-par at the turn. On the inward nine holes, Zaremba played bogey-free, with four birdies, to card a 5-under 66.
“I’ve been playing well lately and I felt great,” said Zaremba, a sophomore at the University of Wyoming. “My best shot came at No. 11, where I hit a 12-footer for birdie.”
Zaremba, who was wearing a Masters shirt, gained confidence for this week by beating his father and pro golfer, Mike, last week at their home course (Desert Hawk Golf Club) by shooting a 59.
“I can beat him, but I have to play well,” said the younger Zaremba of his competitions with his father. His dad has played in two U.S. Senior Opens, one PGA Senior Championship and won the 1995 Colorado Open.
Not feeling any pressure, the 2008 Ben Hogan Award and first-team All-America Fowler carded a 4-under 67. According to Fowler, he unofficially had five 3-putts.
“Normally, I don’t 3-putt really at all,” said Fowler, a 2007 USA Walker Cup team member. “I felt like I was hitting good putts, but they were just not going in. So, I’m going to go work on a couple of things and look forward to tomorrow.”
Fowler, a sophomore at Oklahoma State, is a long hitter who is taking advantage of the thin Mile High City air.
“The ball goes an average of 10 percent further,” Fowler said when describing his eagle on the par-4 424-yard No. 14 that one-hopped into the hole from 123 yards out.
Also in the mix is Nagy, a 2007 APL quarterfinalist, who got off to a fast start by birdieing his first three holes. After carding a 5-under through his first nine holes, Nagy shot a 1-over par on the inward nine to finish with a 4-under 67.
The U.S. Amateur Public Links is one of 13 championships conducted annually by the United States Golf Association each year, 10 of which are strictly for amateurs.