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Golfers converge on Myrtle Beach for World Am; Wheeler leads
Two gross division players at Prestwick CC on Monday
Two gross division players at Prestwick CC on Monday

At the Myrtle Beach World Amateur, the initial impression can be overwhelming. Roughly 3,000 players tee it up for the four-day event. There are 60 courses in the rotation for the World Amateur across a 75-mile swatch of the greater Myrtle Beach area.

In the gross division – and in the lower handicap divisions – there’s a mix between grinding (read: no shortage of swing aids and alignment sticks laid down on the driving range) and nostalgic buddy trips. AmateurGolf.com’s own Kyle Rector is a first-timer this year.

“People playing in this are amped,” Rector said.

Each division has a unique four-course rotation that changes yearly. Tournament organizers work hard to shake up the experience for returners (considering that 80 percent of the field is made up of prior players). The best players don’t automatically play the best courses: Myrtle Beach gems like Caledonia Golf and Fish Club, True Blue Golf Plantation, TPC Myrtle Beach and Barefoot Resort.

The 44-player gross division drew Prestwick Country Club in the opening round, a long and difficult Pete Dye track with predictably diabolical Bermudagrass greens.

Kevin Wheeler leads after a 3-under 72 that included seven birdies. Despite perfect weather and surprisingly comfortable summer temperatures, it was an admirable score.

Related: Read more on the Myrtle Beach World Amateur

Wheeler is three ahead of a group of three players at even par that includes Eric King, Eric Loggins and Rector, who entered the World Amateur off a semifinal run at the SCGA Match Play.

The next-best score, a 2-over 74, belonged to Christopher Reina. It landed him in solo fifth.

Defending gross champion Derrick Oyervides fired a 4-over 76 and is tied with PGA Tour radio personality Brian Katrek after one round.

ABOUT THE Myrtle Beach World Amateur

"The largest amateur golf tournament in the world" now has a gross division. The event attracts 3500 players annually. Barefoot Resort is just one of over 40 of Myrtle Beach area’s championship courses on which this tournament is contested. The winner of each flight competes on the fifth day for the overall title Senior Division ages 55-64, Super-Senior ages 65 and up.

View Complete Tournament Information

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