Photo: Chris Keane/USGA
Oakmont Country Club has a reputation as one of golf’s sternest tests, and it kept to that unyielding standard in Round 1 of stroke play on Monday in the 121st U.S. Amateur Championship. Just one player of the 156 who played there posted an under-par score, a 1-under 69 by Cole Sherwood
, of Austin, Texas.
of Inman, S.C., a senior at Clemson University, shot the low round of Day 1, a 7-under-par 63 on stroke play co-host course Longue Vue Club. Three players – Joe Highsmith
of Lakewood, Wash.; Mark Goetz
, of nearby Greensburg, Pa.; and Alex Fitzpatrick
, of England – shot 6-under 64s at Longue Vue, which is about 6 miles away from Oakmont in Verona, Pa.
Four other players, including 2018 U.S. Junior Amateur champion Michael Thorbjornsen
of Wellesley, Mass., had 5-under 65s at Longue Vue among a parade of under-par scores on the 6,705-yard layout set high above the Allegheny River.
Of the 60 players who stood at par or better at the end of the day, 58 played Longue Vue and just two played at Oakmont, which is hosting its record-tying sixth U.S. Amateur and 17th USGA championship.
, 21, of the University of Texas, shot the lone even-par 70 at Oakmont on a day in which temperatures reached the low 90s and the heat index reached nearly 100. The scoring averages for the courses reflected Oakmont’s difficulty, as Longue Vue played to a 71.7 mark and Oakmont was at 77.1, nearly 5½ strokes higher.
“If you tell me I’m going to shoot even every time I tee it up here, I’ll take it, no doubt,” said Coody, whose twin brother, Pierceson, is No. 2 in the World Amateur Golf Ranking and posted a 5-over 75 at Oakmont later in the day. “It’s just so penalizing off the tee. Miss in the wrong spots and you’re looking at bogey. Just make sure you’re not making double.”
The 312-player field will switch courses for Round 2 on Tuesday, after which the top 64 players will move on to match play, with six rounds to determine the champion, who will earn an exemption into the 2022 U.S. Open Championship at The Country Club in Brookline, Mass., among other rewards.
Sherwood, 19, a sophomore at Vanderbilt University, got into the championship late last week as an alternate from his qualifier in Urbana, Md.
“When you're playing a really challenging course like this, the biggest thing is to always have that uphill leave,” said Sherwood, who birdied Nos. 8 and 9, his final two holes of the day. “It takes a lot of stress out when you have a 40-footer for birdie but it's uphill, so you can kind of give it a run.”
“It was definitely gettable today,” said Bridgeman of Longue Vue, as his 63 tied the fourth-lowest 18-hole score in U.S. Amateur stroke play as well as the Longue Vue course record, held jointly by longtime Oakmont professional Bob Ford in 1999 and Nathan Sutherland in the 2007 Pennsylvania Amateur. “Four of the par 3s were over 200 yards and pins were in pretty tough spots, but other than that, the par 5s were really gettable.”
On Tuesday at 2:05 p.m. EDT, Bridgeman, whose career stroke average at Clemson is No. 2 in school history behind 2017 U.S. Amateur champion Doc Redman, will take on Oakmont.
“It’s a big course. It’s really complex, hard to learn,” said Bridgeman. “I kind of wish I had a week to prepare like the guys do for the Open. We got as much done as we could in one day [of practice]; we’ll see how we do tomorrow.”
Round 2 of stroke play will be conducted on Tuesday, after which the field will be trimmed to 64 for match play, starting on Wednesday. Peacock, Golf Channel and NBC will broadcast all five days of match play.
The USGA accepted 7,811 entries for the championship, one year after the championship was played with an all-exempt field because of the COVID-19 pandemic. The entry record is 7,920 for the 2016 championship at Oakland Hills Country Club.
The top three players in the World Amateur Golf Ranking were grouped together for stroke play. On Monday at Oakmont, No. 1 Keita Nakajima
, of Japan, shot 10-over-par 80, while No. 2 Pierceson Coody
of Plano, Texas, shot 75, and No. 3 Ludvig Aberg
, of Sweden, shot 77.
The last time the U.S. Amateur was played at Oakmont in 2003, only 3 players broke par in stroke play (Pittsburgh Field Club was the stroke play co-host that week): J.B. Holmes, Trip Kuehne and Billy Hurley.
Chris Devlin of Birmingham, Ala., made a hole-in-one on the 198-yard sixth hole at Oakmont with a 6-iron on the way to a 2-over 72. The 46-year-old healthcare executive is a reinstated amateur who is playing in his first U.S. Amateur. The ace was the 24th in the championship since 1993, but the first since 2018.
“I knew if I just hit a nice high cut 6-iron it was just going to be right," said the 46-year-old. "It was just exactly the way I envisioned it. I was telling the guys that I’ve had eight holes-in-one now and I never had one as a professional, and I was a professional for 11 years. I had one in my very last amateur event a long time ago, and then I got my amateur status back and I made another one two weeks later.”
, of Plymouth, Minn., had a roller-coaster round at Longue Vue that included a pair of double bogeys that were offset by two eagles on par 5s, the 550-yard fourth hole and the 544-yard 15th. Holmgren finished at 4-under 66, which is tied for ninth after Day 1.
by Ryan Driscoll, USGA