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George C. Thomas Invitational: Michael Jensen off to early lead
Michael Jensen (AmateurGolf.com photo)
Michael Jensen (AmateurGolf.com photo)

After starting with an eagle and posting a 68, former Cal Berkeley golfer Michael Jensen has the first round lead in the Mid-Amateur division at the George C. Thomas Invitational.

The tournament, being contested at Los Angeles Country Club's North Course -- where the U.S. Open will be played in 2023 -- also has a Senior Division, being led by Jeff Wilson of Green Valley CC in Fairfield, and Don Dubois of Big Canyon CC in Newport Beach. Both players posted rounds of 69, putting them a shot in front of Dan Sullivan of Brookside in Pasadena, and Mark Sear of the home club.

Jensen, the winner of the 2021 Stocker Cup Invitational in Carmel and the 2022 San Francisco City at Harding Park, eagled the par-5 first hole to start the round. The hole starts next to the putting green behind the stately clubhouse, with a city view in the backdrop behind the green. Players know that it's one of their best chances for birdie on a course that will host the U.S. Open next year. But Jensen did one better, then added a pair of birdies on Nos. 7-8 to get to 4-under on the day. Despite dropping two shots with bogeys at Nos. 17 and 18, he maintains a 2-shot advantage over the rest of the field.

That field is minus Los Angeles CC member and top-ranked Mid-Amateur Stewart Hagestad, the defending champ. Hagestad, after competing in the U.S. Open -- and being one of the four ams to make the cut at Brookline -- made the short drive to Rhode Island, where he is competing in the 72-hole Northeast Invitational.

Jensen is in great shape, but he is trailed by six talented players who posted even par, among them Drew Kittleson. You may recall Kittleson as a Florida State golfer who was defeated in the finals of the U.S. Amateur by Danny Lee in 2008 at Pinehurst. Despite not getting over the final hurdle, Kittleson got to compete in both the 2009 U.S. Open and Masters, before turning professional. He has since regained his amateur status, and in May partnered with his friend from Scottsdale, Drew Stoltz, to reach the quarterfinals of the USGA Four-Ball.

The second round is Friday, with the 54-hole tournament set to conclude on Saturday.

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ABOUT THE George C. Thomas Invitational

54-hole stroke play invitational with Mid-Am and Senior divisions is named for George C. Thomas, Jr., the legendary golf course architect who designed the courses for Bel-Air Country Club, The Los Angeles Country Club, Riviera Country Club and others in the 1920s. Thomas was a prominent rose breeder on the East Coast before gaining fame as a golf course designer. Los Angeles Country Club was the host of the 2017 Walker Cup.

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