Tyler Strafaci (R) with Kevin Cassidy of AmateurGolf.com
By Art Stricklin for AmateurGolf.com
PITTSFORD, NY (June 7, 2017) -- Georgia Tech sophomore Tyler Stafaci started fast and never looked back in the first round of the prestigious Monroe Invitational, taking a one-shot lead in the 2017 tournament with an opening 65.
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Stafaci, who just finished his first year with the powerhouse Yellow Jackets program, birdied his first two holes en route to a one-stroke lead over Canadian golfer Garrett Rank and BYU college golfer Rhett Rasmussen who are tied for second with a 66. Thomas Walsh from North Carolina was alone in fourth a 67.
“I really got off to a hot start today and it just carried over for the round,” Stafaci said after his round under sunny skies and brisk winds following two days of heavy rain.
“I didn’t hit it really well off the tee, but I putted great and that really helped a lot. The greens were really drying out and they were a lot faster than I expected and they don’t break as much as you would think.”
After his blazing start which also included a two on the par 3 6th hole, his only birdie on the back nine came on the par 5 12th hole, but he played bogey free golf on the first day.
“It’s only getting firmer and harder as the tournament goes on, but it was a blast today,” he added.
Stafaci was one of the highest ranked juniors in the country coming out of Davie, Florida and won the Valspar Collegiate for his first college victory this spring.
Both Rank, a mid-amateur from Elmira, Ontario, and Rasmussen, who plays for the Cougars golf team, where he was West Coast Conference Freshman of the Year, shot a 34 on the front nine and 32 on the back, closing the gap with 54 holes left in the elite amateur tournament first played in 1937 and held at Monroe CC for 77 years.
Walsh was only two shots out of the lead and said he drew inspiration from his Monday sectional qualifying experience where he was paired with World Golf Hall of Fame member Vijay Singh, watching how the multi-major championship controlled his game for 36 holes.
Pittsford native Gavin Hall, who plays for the University of Texas, was near the top of the leaderboard much of the day, but three bogeys out of four holes on the back nine cost him late and he finished T13 after day one with a 70. Carter Toms, son of Champions Tour Player David Toms, was T21 with an opening 71.
The tournament continues Thursday and will conclude on Saturday afternoon at Monroe CC.
ABOUT THE Monroe Invitational
Small-field invitational event played on a great
par 70 Donald Ross course. 72 hole stroke play
championship dates back to 1937. No cut. Once
the final field is determined by the MIC
Selection Committee, official invitations will be
issued. To apply for an invitation, visit the
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