Oliver Whatley, from Chevy Chase, Md., rang up eight birdies on his way to a 5-under-par 33-34–67, and the first-round lead in sectional U.S. Amateur qualifying at Hobbit’s Glen Golf Club in Columbia, Md., July 8.
Gone was the heavy rainstorm that had wiped out play the day before; leaving instead a warm, sunny day, and an official starting field of 101. With a cut to 40 per cent of that (and ties), it resulted in 48 players who shot 74 or better and who will move on to a second round of qualifying, July 9. At stake are four places and two alternates in the championship on-site field Aug. 12-18, at Pinehurst, N.C.
Evan Katz, from Washington, followed Whatley with 36-32–68, trailed by four players at 69: Peter Gasperini, South Boston, Va.; Elliott Grayson, Shelby, N.C.; Nick Sorkin, Jupiter, Fla., and Bart Mease, Gaithersburg, Md. Grouped at 70 were Morgan Egloff, Chevy Chase, Md.; Doug Hurson, Bethesda, Md.; Michael Brennan, Leesburg, Va.; Ben Warnquist, Olney, Md., and Noah Peck, Hunt Valley, Md.
That last bunch is particularly impressive, as Warnquist has won two Maryland State Amateurs; Brennan has won the last two Middle Atlantic Amateurs, and Egloff has won one MSGA Amateur.
Whatley, 20, and a rising junior at Rutgers University, finished with four birdies on each nine, including all four par-5’s, and three bogeys. Along the way, he used 30 putts, none longer than 15 feet. The Argyle member was an alternate last year after losing out in a 3-for-1 playoff in a Pennsylvania sectional.
A lost ball at the 395-yard third that led to a double-bogey marred Katz’ card, but he offset it with two birdies before the turn. Coming back, he ran off four successive birdies ahead of the finishing hole. His putts were in the 10-12-foot range and overall he reached 17 greens in regulation.
Katz, who just turned 21, has qualified for one Amateur with a playoff win for the final berth, and lost a playoff for second alternate another time Last year, he and Lee Ditmer shot a tournament-tying record of 61 in winning the Maryland State Four-Ball at Bethesda CC, Katz’ home course.
Results and start times are ⇒ HERE