Braden Thornberry (left) shares a laugh with Collin Morikawa
PEBBLE BEACH, California (August 13, 2018) -- It's the biggest amateur golf tournament in the world, being played in one of the game's iconic locations, Pebble Beach. Today 312 of the world's top amateur golfers started their journey towards making one of the 64 match play spots, and a shot at the title.
One thing is for certain, we'll have a new champion, since last year's winner Doc Redman is now a professional.
FEATURED GROUP ONE: Morikawa, Thornberry, and Hovland
With players jockeying for position on both Pebble Beach and Spyglass Hill, we followed some of the featured pairings - starting with three top-10 world amateurs, Collin Morikawa, Braden Thornberry, and Viktor Hovland.
Thornberry and Morikawa have been paired countless times and both played on the winning USA Walker Cup team last year at Los Angeles Country Club. They appear very comfortable together, and share conversation during idle times, such as the photo above, taken on the fourth green.
Hovland, the Norwegian golfer who plays for Oklahoma State, rounded out the pairing and looked very confident making his way around Pebble Beach. While nobody in the group went under par, they all kept it reasonable and are in excellent position to make match play.
FEATURED GROUP TWO: Hammer, Salinda, and Smalley
Another group playing Pebble Beach for their first round was recent Western Amateur winner Cole Hammer (maybe the hottest player in the field coming in); Pacific Coast Amateur Champion Isaiah Salinda; and Alex Smalley -- winner of the Sunnehanna Amateur earlier in the summer.
Playing the back nine first, Salinda got hot on the front with birdies on Nos. 3 and 4 and an eagle on No. 6. Despite a bogey on the monstrous 521-yard par 4 9th hole, He posted 3-under 68 to put himself in excellent position. Despite living in California, the Stanford golfer has only played Pebble Beach twice counting today's round and the practice round. He said he was more familiar with Spyglass, good news for his round tomorrow.
Hammer also got hot on the front nine coming in, with birdies on Nos. 6, 7, and 8. Like Salinda, he closed with a bogey on the 9th, but he will be in good shape after a 2-under 69. He's come a long way since playing the U.S. Open at Chambers Bay as a 15-year-old!
FEATURED GROUP THREE: The Tour Kids - Lehman, Toms, and Wood
The USGA loves to put affinity groups together, and what could three players have in common but having PGA Tour professional fathers? I'm not sure what is more pressure, having your father on the bag like Carter Toms did with David, or having your dad in the gallery spectating, as Thomas Lehman did with his British Open champion father Tom. Rounding out the pairing was Hayden Wood, probably the hottest of the three coming in to the U.S. Am after a July win at the Oklahoma State Amateur. His father Willie played in seven U.S. Opens, and won the 1977 U.S. Junior Amateur.
Wood posted even par; his day was highlighted by a birdie on the famous 17th hole after stuffing his long iron to inside of 5 feet. Toms and Lehman didn't have as much luck, posting 9-over 80 and 11-over 82 respectively.
In case you're wondering, this is more of a "U.S. Open" Pebble Beach than an AT&T Pro-Am Pebble. Playing at 7049 yards with fast/firm conditions and healthy greenside rough, the average score today was north of 5-over 76.
ABOUT THE U.S. Amateur
The U.S. Amateur, the oldest USGA
championship, was first played in 1895 at
Newport Golf Club in Rhode Island. The
which has no age restriction, is open to
with a Handicap Index of 2.4 or lower. It is
of 14 national championships conducted
annually by the USGA, 10 of which are
for amateurs. It is the pre-eminent
competition in the world.
Applications are typically placed online in the spring
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