Daniel Hillier (USGA photo)
PEBBLE BEACH, Calif. (Aug. 14, 2018) – The best scores in the opening round of the U.S. Amateur came from two different courses. Daniel Hillier put up the best number – a colorful 4-under 67 at Spyglass Hill (the companion course to this week’s tournament). Trevor Phillips also got to 4 under (68) at host course Pebble Beach.
Hillier’s round was even more impressive considering he’s making his USGA debut this week – and in Pebble Beach, no less.
“It's a pretty recognizable venue,” said Hillier. “So yeah, it was a lot of fun out there today. Had my caddie there who's a good friend of mine. We sort of just kept everything nice and relaxed and managed to put a good score up on the board.”
The New Zealander, who plays a worldwide schedule, tied for seventh at the European Amateur earlier this summer and made match play at the British Amateur before that.
He has spent the past two months contending in some of the country’s top amateur events. He was T-17 at the Western Amateur two weeks ago – just one out of the match-play bracket – and T-12 at the Pacific Amateur before that. Hillier had the early-week lead at the Players Amateur before falling to T-7.
Hillier had three birdies on the front but the back had three birdies, two bogeys and an eagle. The best part of Hillier’s game on the opening day at the U.S. Amateur? His ball-striking, particularly with his irons.
“I felt really comfortable over them,” he said. “I knew the shots that I wanted to hit, and I managed to execute them with confidence. Yeah, I think that was by far my best asset today.”
As for Philips, a junior at Georgia, it has been four years since he has been at this event. Phillips tore his ACL when he ran into a tree while snowboarding in North Carolina.
“I just tried to take the momentum I had from the qualifier straight to here and just tried to be as calm and possible and realize that there's a lot of holes and there's a lot of matches to win,” he said. “So just take it easy and just try to take it all in and have a good time.”
This summer’s big winners fared well on the first day. Pacific Coast Amateur winner Isaiah Salinda had two birdies in his final three holes at Spyglass Hill to finish with 3-under 68. An eight-way tie for fourth at 2 under included Western Amateur champion Cole Hammer.
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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