Carson Kim shakes hands with a caddie after shooting 5-under 66 (USGA Photo)
Will Hartman, 16, of Charlotte, N.C., shot a bogey-free 66 Monday and was one of five players at the top of the leaderboard on the first day of stroke play in the 75th U.S. Junior Amateur Championship at Daniel Island Club.
Hartman, Tommy Morrison, 18, of Dallas, Texas, and Carson Kim, 18, of Yorba Linda, Calif., were 5-under on the par-71 Beresford Creek Course. Joshua Bai, 17, of New Zealand and South Carolina native Andrew Gregory shot their 6-under-par scores on the par-72 Ralston Creek Course.
“Ball-striking carried me today,” said Hartman, who is competing in his first USGA championship. “I only missed one green. It was a lot of smart golf to the middle of the green and then make your fair share of 8-10 footers and it ended up adding itself up at the end.”
Bai, who is playing in his second U.S. Junior Amateur, canned nine birdies, including his last two holes, against three bogeys. Gregory, of Spartanburg, who made the field as a first alternate from qualifying, hit his 90-yard approach to within 4 feet on the par-5 18th to put an exclamation point on his round.
“Just kind of a smooth round,” said Gregory, who is competing in his third consecutive Junior Amateur. “I had a lot of tap-ins and didn’t really make any long birdie putts. The other kid [Max Herendeen] in my group we were going back and forth so he kept me pushing the whole way.”
Morrison birdied his last three holes on Beresford Creek in the afternoon. He got up-and-down from greenside on the par-5 eighth and hit his tee shot on the par-3 ninth, his last hole, to within 12 feet behind the flagstick.
“I was pretty patient the whole day and was waiting for something to happen,” said Morrison, who played as a freshman this past spring at the University of Texas. “Thankfully, it paid off. The last three holes were gettable. I am glad I took advantage of it and put myself in a better spot for tomorrow.”
Kim strung together four birdies and an eagle in a five-hole stretch en route to a 5-under round in the morning on Beresford Creek. The highlight was when he holed a 60-degree wedge from 40 yards with his third shot on the par-5 10th.
“I was a little short left, and I thought it was going to be a pretty tough spot,” said Kim, who is competing in his first U.S. Junior Amateur and has club member Ryan Propes as a caddie. “I got it up and luckily, it hit the pin and went right in.”
Kim, who recently made his college commitment to Georgia Tech, jump-started his round with that same wedge when he hit it to 2 feet on No. 7 before making birdie on the par-5 eighth after his wayward tee shot found the trees to the right. He made another birdie by striking his approach to within 6 feet on No. 11.
This is probably one of the best rounds I have played, especially in a tournament,” said Kim, who won all three of his matches for the U.S. team in the 2022 Presidents Cup. “This course is certainly not easy. The rough is really punishing and the greens are firm. I really felt like my game was solid today.”
A 6-foot par putt on Beresford’s 18th hole horseshoed out, preventing Ethan Fang from posting a bogey-free opening round. The 18-year-old from Plano, Texas, still carded a 4-under 67 with five birdies.
Colin Salema, 17, of Matthews, N.C., Zihang Qiu, 16, of the People’s Republic of China, and Max Herendeen, of Bellevue, Wash., all shot 4-under 68 at Ralston Creek.
Billy Davis, 17, of Spring Valley, Calif., is in a group of six players at 3-under 69. Davis, who made four birdies with one bogey, is the twin brother of Anna Davis, who has competed in two U.S. Women’s Opens (2022, 2023).
Rowan Sullivan, 18, of Charleston, S.C., hit the championship’s opening tee shot and went on to register a 2-under-70 on Ralston Creek. While he found several fairway bunkers during his round, he offset that misfortune with three birdies, including a 45-footer on No. 14.
“You’d rather be in a bunker than be in the rough,” said Sullivan, one of five players from the host state South Carolina in the field. “I was able to get away with some bad drives that would have gone in the rough but luckily ended up in a bunker. With these bunkers, you’re not dealing with heavy sand so it’s easy to hit those longer shots that you need to hit. It was a mix of good fortune and being able to miss in the right spots.”
Bo Carpenter, 18, of Tifton, Ga., vaulted to the lead midway through his round when he recorded a 6-under 30 on his outward nine that included an eagle on the par-4 fifth at Ralston Creek. However, Carpenter was derailed by a double-bogey 7 on No. 11 and finished with a 2-under 70.
A semifinalist in last year’s U.S. Junior Amateur, Eric Lee, 18, of Fullerton, Calif., birdied his last hole, the par-3 ninth at Beresford, to shoot even-par 71.
Round 2 of stroke play will take place on Tuesday. Players will switch courses, after which the field of 264 will be reduced to the low 64 scores for match play. Should a playoff be necessary to fill the remaining spots in the bracket, it will take place on the Beresford Creek Course (holes 9, 10 and 8) on Wednesday beginning at 7 a.m. EDT. All of the matches will take place on Ralston Creek, starting at 8 a.m. on Wednesday.
Brian Harman became the fifth U.S. Junior Amateur champion to claim the Open Championship on Sunday with his winning score of 13-under 271. Harman won the 2003 Junior Amateur at Columbia Country Club, in Chevy Chase, Md. The other players to win both championships are – Johnny Miller (1964 Junior, 1976 Open), David Duval (1989 Junior, 2001 Open), Tiger Woods (1991, 92, 93 Junior, 2000, 05, 06 Open) and Jordan Spieth (2009, 11 Junior, 2017 Open).
In addition to Harman, three other U.S. Junior Amateur champions posted 72-holes scores in the 151st Open at Royal Liverpool Golf Club, in Hoylake, England. Scottie Scheffler (2013) and Spieth tied for 23rd. Min Woo Lee (2016) tied for 41st.
Akshay Bhatia, the runner-up in the 2018 U.S. Junior Amateur at Baltusrol Golf Club, in Springfield, N.J., defeated Patrick Rodgers in a playoff to win the Barracuda Championship on Sunday. It was his first PGA Tour victory.
Owen Corby was the last golfer added to the 264-player field as the first alternate from the Rome, N.Y., qualifier when Jordan Indra Marcello withdrew one day prior to the championship. Corby arrived at the course at 6:45 a.m. on Monday, just 26 minutes prior to his tee time, after driving to Charlotte, N.C. to pick up his lost clubs. The 17-year-old from Pittsford, N.Y., won this year New York State Federation Championship at Bethpage State Park’s Black Course, the site of the 2002 and 2009 U.S. Opens.
Chase Kyes, 17, of Birmingham, Ala., is hopeful that his caddie Jeff Curl can provide some of the same magic that assisted Nick Dunlap in his run to the 2021 U.S. Junior Amateur title. Curl tied for 56th in the 2012 U.S. Open at The Olympic Club as a two-stage qualifier. His father, Rod, played the PGA Tour for 20 years and competed in nine U.S. Opens.
Dylan Burcham, of Valencia, Calif., advanced to this first USGA championship by surviving a 7-for-1 playoff in qualifying at Seven Oaks Country Club on June 26. Burcham, 17, who birdied the second extra hole in the Bakersfield, Calif., qualifier, shot 3-under 69 in the first round at Ralston Creek. He started playing competitive golf three years ago.
Jack Harrington, a 16-year-old from Portland, Ore., became a third-generation USGA competitor at this year’s U.S. Junior Amateur. His father, Adam, played in two U.S. Amateurs and Jack caddied for him in the 2021 U.S. Mid-Amateur. Jack’s grandfather, Bob, competed in the 2003 U.S. Senior Open and was president of the Oregon Golf Association. His uncle, Scott, is currently on the PGA Tour and advanced to match play in the 1998 Junior Amateur.