104th Amateur Championship
Cutrell's 67 Leads Amateur After Opening Round
MALVERN, Pa. - The round couldn't have started worse for Hannastown Golf Club's Arnie Cutrell. His tee shot on the first hole at White Manor Country Club went left and landed in an official's golf cart. His initial drop resulted in a decent lie, but was slightly closer to the hole, so he had to drop again. That drop landed in a tough spot in the rough, and Cutrell was forced to lay up. After a three-putt, he carded a double-bogey six. But that would be the only blemish on his card, as he recovered to make six birdies en route to an opening round of 67 (-4) and the lead at the 104th Pennsylvania Amateur, presented by LECOM.
"Sometimes that makes you bear down," Cutrell said of his tough start. "I was able to focus and get back on track and end up with a nice round."
Cutrell missed a makeable 12-footer on the third hole, but began his push to red numbers at the par-5 sixth hole. He was 100 yards out and hit sand wedge to three feet and sank the birdie putt. Then on No. 8, he drained a 35-footer to get back to even par, and that began a run of four straight birdies.
"I was just hitting it solidly and putting myself in good positions," Cutrell said. "I was fortunate to hit it in the right spots today."
Making Cutrell's performance even more impressive was that he is nursing a pulled calf that forced him to withdraw from a tournament last week. Combine that with the fact that he had not been on the property at White Manor CC until Sunday and that 67 looks even better.
"I feel marginally better today," Cutrell said. "I've just got to keep the same approach tomorrow."
After a pair of bogeys on his 11th and 12th holes of the day, Carlisle Country Club's J.D. Hughes dropped to 1-under par for the round and was looking at the possibility of a disappointing finish after an earlier stretch of four straight birdies. But then came the sixth hole at White Manor Country Club. Hughes hit his drive on the 546-yard par 5 solidly in the fairway and followed up with a 4-iron to the front edge of the green. With about 80 feet left to the hole and a putt that was going to move at least three feet to the left, Hughes played his putt way to the outside right of the pin, and a few seconds later, the ball dropped for an eagle, moving him to 3-under. After a couple of pars to round out his day, Hughes was in the clubhouse with a 68 and is one shot behind Cutrell.
"That was crazy," said Hughes, a rising junior on the Penn State golf team, of the eagle putt. "That putt would've gone five feet by if it didn't go in."
For Hughes it was the culmination of an up and down round with more highs than lows. He started play on the back 9 and had an early bogey at the par-3 12th hole. But when he got to the 16th, he hit a wedge close and sunk the short birdie putt. Moving to the par-5 17th hole, Hughes hit his second shot to the front of the green. There, he put his eagle try about 15 feet past the hole before making the birdie putt on the way back.
"It was a wild two-putt," Hughes said. "I was fortunate to make that comebacker."
With momentum on his side, Hughes continued his hot streak with a nice approach and another birdie on No. 18. Moving to the front side of the Bobby Weed design, Hughes made another birdie on the par-4 first hole.
The performance by Hughes was even more impressive considering his only prior round at the course was on Sunday afternoon.
"The golf course was in great shape," Hughes said. "The greens were running really well, without a lot of marks on them."
Playing as a twosome in the first group of the afternoon wave, Yardley Country Club's Chris Ault and Lancaster Country Club's Aaron Fricke made quick work of the course, playing in three hours and 39 minutes and at a combined 3-under par, as Ault fired a 69 and Fricke a 70. Ault's round was highlighted by No. 17, where he hit 7-iron from 195 yards to reach the green in two and sunk a 50-foot eagle putt.
Also finishing at 69 were Applecross Country Club's Liam McAnally, Radnor Valley Country Club's Carey Bina, Indiana Country Club's Matt Holuta and Hannastown Golf Club's Palmer Jackson. McAnally had a bogey-free round that also featured birdies on No. 6 and No. 16, but additionally some key par saves, highlighted by the 13th hole.
"On No. 13, I missed the green short but made a 12-footer down the hill to save par," McAnally said.
Bina made a few long putts in his round, though he said that he had some chances to go even lower.
"I lipped out putts on four of my last five holes," Bina said.
For Holuta, the key hole was the par-4 seventh. The Rutgers University golfer drove it to the back fringe on the 329-yard hole and sunk a 50-foot putt for eagle. He followed that with a five-foot birdie on No. 8, giving him the rare pair of back to back 2s on the scorecard.
"I was happy with my round," Holuta said. "There are some really tough holes out there, and you have to keep the ball in play off of the tee. Plus the greens are sneaky, with a lot of slope in them."
Playing in one of the final groups, Jackson started hot, with three birdies in his first six holes. But after a double bogey on No. 14, he was back to 1-under par for the day. His resolve showed with a quick bounceback, as he made birdie on the next hole to get back to 2-under par, where he finished the round.
The Pennsylvania Golf Association would like to thank the staff and membership of White Manor Country Club for their support and hospitality during the event.