Palmer Jackson takes first round lead at Jones Cup Invitational
04 Feb 2022
by Kevin Price of

see also: View results for Jones Cup, Ocean Forest Golf Club, Palmer Jackson Rankings

Palmer Jackson (photo by Kevin Price)
Palmer Jackson (photo by Kevin Price)

Palmer Jackson, a current standout at Notre Dame, grabbed the early lead Friday in the first round of the Jones Cup Invitational at the Ocean Forest Golf Club.

Jackson, a junior for the Fighting Irish, posted a 6-under-par 66 to take a one-shot lead over Michael Brennan going into the second round of the tournament which is set for Saturday along the shores of the Atlantic Ocean in coastal Georgia. Brennan, a sophomore at Wake Forest, finished his first 18 holes at 5-under 67 on the par-72 track that played 7,308 yards on Friday.

“My ability to play my shots today, especially into the wind was really good,” Jackson said. “My distance-control was good. Some of the pins were accessible, but still tough, and you had to have great distance-control. I was able to stick a lot of shots within eight feet and that helped.”

Two players were just two strokes back of Jackson after round one while a group of four players finished the first day three shots off Jackson’s lead pace.

The 54-hole tournament, now in its 18th year, will conclude with the final 18 holes on Sunday. The Jones Cup is the first major tournament of the new year in amateur golf. Friday’s opening round likely had the best playing conditions the deep field of 84 players will face for any of the three rounds.

The tournament began with temperatures in the mid-70s and was played under sunny skies with relatively calm winds for the better part of the day. Clouds began to hover over the course as the afternoon wore on and the temperature fell back into the 60s with the wind also starting to gust as the round neared its completion with a thunderstorm brewing in the distance.

With overnight rain in the forecast, temperatures were expected to remain in the 50s for Saturday and Sunday while winds are predicted to blow anywhere from 18 to 25 mph over the final two rounds of the championship.

“It’s gonna be grinding for pretty much everyone, I think, these next couple of days,” Brennan said when asked about possibly seeing harder conditions on the weekend. “So, it’s great to get off to a nice start. I kinda knew birdies would be a little more gettable today than the next couple of days. But, it’s fun playing in the elements because you have to think a little more and scramble a little more.”

Jackson, who is ranked No. 52 in the world amateur rankings, started his first round on the back nine of the Ocean Forest course which finishes along the sandy shores of the ocean. He started fast, making an eagle-3 on the par-5 10th and followed that with three birdies, three pars and two bogeys to make the turn at 3-under for the day.

He reeled off three straight birdies to begin his final nine before finishing with six straight pars to also post a 33 total on his inward side for his 66 score.

“Any score in the red out here is pretty good,” Jackson said.

Jackson finished second last year at the Patriot All-America and fourth at the Sunnehanna Amateur.

Brennan, currently ranked No. 20 in the world, had a more eventful day as he managed to make his way out of some tough spots while posting a 35 on the front nine to begin his day.

He made two birdies going out which were offset by a bogey. Brennan proceeded to put together an unblemished back nine as he carded four birdies and five pars including an up-and-down from well off the green on the 18th hole.

“Any number under par is pretty good,” Brennan also said. “I had a bit of a tough time driving the ball at the start of the round, but I really kind of saved myself with a few nice wedge shots and a couple of nice chips. And, then I did the same thing at the end of the round with nice up and downs on 17 and 18. I played pretty solid for the most part and saved a lot of shots.”

Brennan recently tied for second at the Southwestern Invitational. Last year, the Virginia native won four times including the Wake Forest Invitational at Pinehurst No. 2 and the Kiawah Invitational.

Despite having what figures to be the best conditions for scoring in this year’s tournament on Friday, only 22 total players finished the first day in red figures.

Nick Gabrelcik and Thomas Ponder were the two players who finished their first rounds two back of Jackson at 4-under as both players posted a 68 score. Gabrelcik, who plays for nearby North Florida in Jacksonville, climbed to No. 10 in the world amateur rankings after repeating as champion last week at the Sea Best Invitational hosted by his school at TPC Sawgrass in Ponte Vedra Beach.

The four golfers tied at 3-under after round one were Jake Hall, Kelly Chinn, Ben James and Matt Sharpstene.

An 8-player group was tied for ninth after shooting 2-under on Friday. Among those were Garret Barber, the 2018 tournament champion and the only player to win both the Jones Cup and Jones Cup Junior which is also hosted by Sea Island.

Also in this large grouping were Nicolas Cassidy, a University of Georgia golfer who finished tied for second last summer in the Dogwood Invitational outside of Atlanta, and Ohio State’s Maxwell Moldovan, who is ranked 17th in the world amateur rankings coming into the Jones Cup.

Results: Jones Cup
1PAPalmer JacksonMurrysville, PA120066-69-76=211
2OKLogan McAllisterOklahoma City, OK90073-70-71=214
3CTBen JamesMilford, CT70069-75-73=217
T4FLNick GabrelcikTrinity, FL70068-76-74=218
T4VAKelly ChinnGreat Falls, VA70069-74-75=218

View full results for Jones Cup


The Jones Cup is probably the biggest of the springtime amateur majors in the United States, and the reason is the venue and the strong U.S. and international field. The past champions list is littered with PGA Tour stars, including Justin Thomas, Patrick Reed, Luke List, Kyle Stanley, Beau Hossler and several others.

This 54-hole individual stroke-play event, inaugurated in 2001, is played at Ocean Forest Golf Club. The Rees Jones design opened in 1995 and has hosted the Georgia State Amateur Championship, the Southern Amateur Championship and the 2001 Walker Cup Match. The Jones Cup brings together many of the finest amateurs from the United States and abroad for a three-day competition.

The Jones Cup was born from a deep commitment to amateur golf by the A.W. Jones family, who founded the Cloister and Sea Island Golf Club in 1928. The Sea Island Golf Club has played host to seven USGA championships. The Jones Cup is yet another extension of the family's strong involvement in amateur golf.

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