Hugo Bernard (Golf Canada photo)
CHARLESTON, SC (March 22, 2018) - On a cool and breezy day where temperatures struggled to get out of the 50s, Hugo Bernard posted a bogey-free 4-under 67 to take the first round lead at the Azalea Invitational at the Country Club of Charleston.
Bernard won his country's national championship at the Canadian Amateur two years ago, in the same year that he won the NCAA Division II Championship as a St. Leo University freshman.
Today, Bernard birdied 4, 5, 15 and 17 to get to 4 under and take a one stroke lead over two high school seniors, Ryan Hall (Knoxville, TN) and Viraj Garewal (Raleigh, NC).
Hall, a South Carolina commit, started hot and got it to 4 under at the turn, but leveled off and lost one shot coming in for a 3-under 68.
Garewal, a Davidson College commit, had a roller coaster round that started with a double bogey at the first hole but included 7 birdies, capped off by a 3 at the difficult 482-yard uphill finishing hole.
Two other players broke 70 on day one: University of Texas commit and last year's Azalea runner-up Cole Hammer (Houston, TX) and Georgia Tech senior James Clark III (Columbus, GA), who both shot 2-under 69. Clark is trying to become the second straight Georgia Tech golfer to win the Azalea, following Chris Petefish who won last year's event but is not in the field this week.
There is a large group at 1 under, including Bernard's countryman Joey Savoie, as well as Joseph Deraney (Nashville, TN), who has won several national mid-amateur events including the Stocker Cup and Lupton Invitational, and is trying to add his first big national amateur title.
Reigning U.S. Mid-Amateur champion Matt Parziale (Brockton, MA), who is at the Azalea in preparation for his appearance in the upcoming Masters, shot a 1-over 72.
Last year's Azalea co-runner-up Joseph Pagdin (Orlando, FL) shot a 2-over 73. The 2015 Azalea Invitational champion and former Walker Cupper Todd White shot a 5-over 76. Brady Exber, a four-time Azalea senior champion who came into the week with two wins (one amateur, one senior) in the last two weeks, struggled to an 8-over 79.
Play continues Friday with the second round, with cool temperatures once again forecast for the morning; in fact a freeze warning is in effect for parts of the Charleston area.
ABOUT THE Azalea Invitational
72 hole stroke play with a 54 hole cut on a
Seth Raynor design. Good mix of college
and mid amateurs. 7 spots available in a
Impressive list of past champions at this
traditional event. Reigning USGA champs often use
this tournament as a tune-up for the Masters.
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