Ryoto Furuya (USF Athletics photo)
By Rick Woelfel
Wednesday proved to be a good day for scoring in the opening round of the 61st Porter Cup. Temperatures around 80 degrees and low humidity were a welcome respite from the oppressive weather that had been prevalent in the Northeast for much of the past week.
And the field took advantage.
Ryoto Furuya from Tampa, Fla., set the pace with a 6-under 64. That left him one shot clear of a trio that included Peter Knade (Easton, Md.) Austin Hitt (Longwood, Fla.) and Josh Whalen (Napanee, Ontario). All three recorded rounds of 5-under par 65.
A group at 3-under par 67 featured Alec Bard (New Hartford, N.Y.), Matthew Mattare (Jersey City, N.J.). Ethan Ng (New York City), Scott Harvey (Kernersville, N.C.) and Reid Davenport (Austin, Texas) while seven additional players were at 2-under par 69.
Furuya will be starting his second and final season at South Florida this fall after spending two seasons at the University of Iowa. He started his day at Niagara Falls Country Club by going out in 1-under 34, then heated up on the back side of the A.W. Tillinghast layout and made birdies at Nos. 10, 11, and 12.
After making bogey at the par-5 13th, Furuya finished his day’s work birdies at the par-3 16th, the par-4 17th, and the 18th, another par 3.
Hitt, a senior-to-be at North Carolina, was in good form early on. He was 4 under after three holes thanks to an eagle at the 552-yard par-5 third. He went out in 6-under 29 before playing his second nine in 1 over.
“I hit the ball pretty well and was able to roll in a couple putts,” Hitt said. “I played pretty smart on the front nine.”
Hitt said a big key for him was making some key putts in the 10-15-foot range.”
Hitt was an honorable-mention All American this season with the Tar Heels while also earning All-ACC honors and helping his team to a 19th-place finish at the NCAA Championships. In recent weeks, he’s been focusing on end results rather than mechanics.
“I’m focusing more on scoring and that kind of thing,” he said. “That’s really helped the last couple tournaments.
“During the summer, we have a little more time to work on things, so that’s kind of what I’ve been focusing on, just the scoring.”
Knade and Whalen made their presence felt as well. Knade, a senior at Maryland, played his opening nine in even par but eagled the par-4 10th before recording consecutive birdies at Nos. 13, 14, and 15. He went on to complete his inward nine in 5-under par 30.
Whalen got off to a fast with three straight birdies out of the box. He made the turn in 2-under par 33 before recording an eagle at the 10th and a birdie at the 11th.
All told, 23 of the 88 players in the field broke par. Kyle Cox withdrew and Donnie Trosper didn’t start. Play begins Friday at 7:30 a.m. By luck of the draw, Furuya and Knade will be part of the same threesome with an 8 a.m. tee time.
ABOUT THE Porter Cup
One of the premier amateur events in the
nation, this 72-hole stroke play invitational has
lots of extra activities that give this event a special
flavor. The winning player receives a green blazer, as
well as an invitation to the Master of the Amateurs
tournament in Melbourne, Australia. Pre-tournament qualifying is a few weeks prior to the
event and approximately five spots are available. Starting in 2023, the men's and women's
Porter Cup championships will run con currently with 54 players in each field and alternating
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