Stanford pair leads opening round of U.S. Amateur Four-Ball
Cardinal sophomores Maverick McNealy (left) and<br>Viraat Badhwar (Photos by Steven Gibbons/USGA)
Cardinal sophomores Maverick McNealy (left) and
Viraat Badhwar (Photos by Steven Gibbons/USGA)

SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. — Stanford sophomores Maverick McNealy and Viraat Badhwar are fresh off a Pac-12 Championship win in Pullman, Wash. where McNealy set multiple school and conference records. But on Saturday they were back in the Bay Area playing the inaugural U.S. Amateur Four-Ball as partners, shooting 64 in the opening round to lead by one.

Scoring was noticeably lower on the Ocean Course, playing about 2,000 yards shorter than the tougher, and more renowned Lake Course. The teammates bogeyed the first hole on the Ocean but took off after three straight birdies from holes 3 to 5.

McNealy, of Portola Valley, Calif. rolled in birdie putts on 3 and 4 while Badhwar, an Australian originally born in India, knocked in a bird on 5 to get the Stanford pair rolling. They capped off the round with birdies on 17 and 18, including a bunker hole-out from the recent Pac-12 individual medalist.

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"[Badhwar] hit it pin-high left so I figured I might as well shoot at the pin and try to stick it tight," McNealy said of his approach shot on the par-four 18th.

"That's the fun thing about this format is there are a lot of times you can just not worry about the next one so much and just make it. So that's what I did there and it went in."

McNealy and Badhwar, roommates at nearby Stanford University, say the camaraderie of their friendship was impactful in their first-round success.

"I think we've both seen our golf games way too much," Badhwar said. "We practice together. We do putting competitions together and off the golf course we have the same classes and the same set of friends and we are the same year in school. We understand each other’s games and how to help each other and when to pick each other up."

Tied for second place at 65 are Bandon Dunes caddies Tim Tucker and Kyle Crawford of Coos Bay, Ore. and former USC teammates Jordan Nasser and Taylor Wood.

Nassar and Wood posted their 65 on the Lake Course, while Tucker and Crawford played the Ocean Course. Of the 38 teams to break par on Saturday, 17 did so on the Lake, with just five going lower than 68.

The top-32 teams will advance to the match play portion of the tournament, beginning Monday at the Lake Course. Currently, the cut sits at one-under par with 18 holes to go on Sunday.

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ABOUT THE U.S. Amateur Four-Ball

The U.S. Amateur Four-Ball, the newest USGA championship, was played for the first time in 2015 at The Olympic Club in San Francisco, Calif. The event, which has no age restriction, is open to those with a Handicap Index of 5.4 or lower. It is one of 14 national championships conducted annually by the USGA, 10 of which are strictly for amateurs.

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