VILLAGE OF PINEHURST, N.C. (August 18, 2008) – Wesley Bryan, 18, of Chapin, S.C., and Andrew Putnam, 19, of University Place, Wash., each finished with 3-under-par 67s to share the lead by one stroke after the first round of the U.S. Amateur at Pinehurst Resort & Country Club. Bryan posted his score on the famed No. 2 course while Putnam played his first round on the No. 4 course.
The two were narrowly ahead of six others who finished with 68s, including former U.S. Junior Amateur champion Sihwan Kim, 19, of Buena Park, Calif. Billy Horschel, 21, of Gainesville, Fla., a USA Walker Cup standout in 2007; Derek Fathauer, 22, of Jensen Beach, Fla., a quarterfinalist at last year’s championship; and 52-year-old Brady Exber of Las Vegas, Nev., were among a dozen in with 69s. Kim played his round on No. 2 while Horschel, Fathauer and Exber played No. 4.
Bryan, a freshman at the University of South Carolina, played his sub-par round in an uncharacteristic manner over the 7,281-yard layout that has been host to two U.S. Opens in the past 10 years (1999 and 2005). He hit only four fairways off the tee, but still managed to hit 13 of the 18 greens in regulation.
"I scrambled around all day," said Bryan. "I was hitting it so far off line that I had some good lies in the pine straw and on the packed down cart paths. You name it, I was on it. I got it up and down from everywhere."
Putnam, a sophomore at Pepperdine and the younger brother of Nationwide Tour player Michael Putnam, finished with a flurry, birdieing four of his final seven holes over the 7,030-yard No. 4 course.
"My game has been pretty good all summer, but I just haven’t put it all together," said Putnam. "It was not unexpected. I felt I could do it."
Play continues Tuesday with the second round of stroke play before the field of 315 is trimmed to the low 64 scorers who will advance to match play. The championship runs through the end of the week, with the 36-hole final match scheduled for Sunday.
Nick Taylor, 20, of Canada, also a quarterfinalist at the 2007 Amateur, was in at even par on course No. 2 and was tied for the 26th spot, along with former USA Walker-Cuppers Kyle Stanley (2007), 20, of Gig Harbor, Wash., and Brian Harman (2005), 21, of Savannah, Ga.
Among those another stroke back (tied for 48th) at one over par on No. 4 was top-ranked amateur Danny Lee, 18, of New Zealand, who recently won the Western Amateur. Last week he finished tied for 20th at the PGA Tour’s Wyndham Championship in Greensboro, N.C.
"I’m pleased with a 71; it could have been a lot worse," said Lee, who arrived in Pinehurst late Sunday night after a two-hour drive from Greensboro. "I got off to a bad start. I was two over after five holes."
Sam Saunders, 21, the grandson of Arnold Palmer and a junior at Clemson University, also was in at 71 on course No. 4. Palmer won the 1954 Amateur title.
Other notables who have won the title are Bob Jones, Jack Nicklaus and Tiger Woods.
The Amateur is one of 13 national championships conducted by the United States Golf Association, 10 of which are strictly for amateurs.
Craig Smith is the USGA’s Director of Media Relations. E-mail him with questions or comments at firstname.lastname@example.org.