PEBBLE BEACH, Calif (July 15, 2011) -- Cory McElyea, a rising sophomore at the University of Washington, has the lead after the first round of the NCGA Amateur Stroke Play Championship at Poppy Hills.
The Santa Cruz native carded an impressive 5-under-par 67 highlighted by five birdies and an eagle on his 9th hole (Poppy Hills’ 18th). Three weeks ago, the 19-year-old earned the #3 seed and made a run to the quarterfinals of the State Amateur at The Olympic Club, losing to eventual finalist Kevin Wentworth. He finished second in this same event in 2010.
Low scoring characterized the day, with 16 players breaking par and six shooting in the 60s (five of whom played in the morning wave). Castlewood’s Mathew Miller is one back of McElyea. Jonny Baxter, Nicholas Brown, Jeff Hoffman and Ben Geyer are two back after first-round 69s.
Two of the sub-par rounds belonged to notable senior golfers: 55-year-old Casey Boyns, playing his freshman season as a senior golfer and Senior Points Leader and current NCGA Senior Champion Jim Knoll of Rooster Run, both of whom carded 2-under 70s. Boyns, the four-time NCGA Player of the year, previously captured this championship in 2007.
Other notables in contention include 2004 champion and current NCGA Public Links champion Scott Hardy. The St. Mary’s Golf Coach is four back. Also four behind is defending champion Kevin Lucas of the University of Nevada-Reno. Lucas, a Folsom native, set a tournament scoring record of 11-under 205 in 2010, breaking the previous record by four shots. If the low scoring continues, that record will surely fall.
This is the eighth playing of the championship, but an earlier iteration of the event dates to 1944, and lists NCGA luminaries such as Ken Venturi, Harvey Ward, George Archer and Johnny Miller as champions. After a nearly 40-year hiatus, the tournament began again in 2004.
After the second round Saturday, the championship is cut to the players with the low 40 scores and ties for Sunday’s final round.