BANDON, ORE. (July 24, 2012) - Gaston De La Torre of Brush Prairie, Wash. and Lorens Chan of Honolulu, Hawaii fired even-par rounds of 70 today on the Bandon Trails layout at Bandon Dunes Golf Resort to share the lead after the first round of the 46th Pacific Coast Amateur Championship at Bandon Dunes Golf Resort.
Strong winds sent scores soaring throughout most of the day; the median score for the field was 79 and 36 players shot 80 or better. As Jimmy Burnett of Pocatello, Idaho noted ruefully, "You can't hide a bad swing in the wind." Jordan Irwin, the 2008 champion, added, "You have to hit perfect shots on this course; good shots aren't good enough."
"Brutal" was another word that showed up in many descriptions of the four finishing holes, which played straight into the teeth of a 35 mph wind. They did, indeed, prove to be (as one wit described it) "The Long, Green Mile" for nearly everyone.
Chan and De La Torre both teed off in the fourth group but even they felt the brunt of the wind on the back nine. "We were lucky to get Bandon Trails in the morning," said Chan. "The last four holes were brutal; they played straight into the wind. On the last hole (426 yard, par 4), I hit the best hybrid possible and barely got it there."
De La Torre, 22, who recently graduated from New Mexico State University, stumbled badly at the beginning of his round, posting five bogeys in his first seven holes. However, he rallied strongly on the back nine, finishing with four birdies over his final six holes to end up at even par.
The notable description was De La Torre, who won the 2012 Rice Intercollegiate and the 2011 Oregon Public Links Championship. He completed his strong finish by making what he later termed an "incredible birdie" on the 185-year 17th hole. "I cut a 3 iron and held it against the wind," he explained. "It nearly went in the hole and rolled off the back of the green, but I made the putt coming back."
The 18-year-old Chan, winner of this year's Hawaii State Amateur, posted consecutive nines of even-par 35 today. He birdied the ninth, 10th and 11th holes and made birdie 4 on the 16th hole but finished with bogies on the last two holes to fall back into a share of the lead.
Chan and De La Torre are two shots in front of Matt Rawitzer of Bellingham, Wash., who finished with a 72 A quartet of golfers, including David Fink of Corvallis, Ore., is another shot back at 73.
Rawitzer and Fink combined to give the Pacific Northwest Golf Association a five-shot lead at the midpoint of the Morse Cup Team Competition, which is conducted concurrently with the first two rounds of the championship. With the best two of three individual scores counting in each round for the team total, the PNGA is at 145, 5 over par, and five shots in front of the Southern California GA.
The weather forecast for tomorrow calls for winds similar to today.
Today's round was played over Bandon Trails GC, which will also host the third round on Thursday. Tomorrow's second round and the final round Friday will be contested over Bandon Dunes GC.