FAIRFAX ““ University of Texas senior golfer Johnathan Schnitzer shot a career low 61 Tuesday, one off the competitive course record at the Meadow Club, to lead after the first round of the 110th Trans-Mississippi Championship presented by TaylorMade-Adidas.
USF golfer Cory McElyea, from Santa Cruz, playing in one of the last groups of the day, was second at 62.
“It was just a matter of going low today and then keeping it going. When I made the turn today, I saw there was a 61 on the board, so it was just like, “˜let’s see if we can keep up,'” said McElyea.
Cal All-American and NCAA Champion Max Homa highlights five golfers tied for third at 5-under-par 65 under bright, sunny skies with no wind and perfect scoring conditions.
Schnitzer, who had never seen the par 70 Alister Mackenzie layout before Monday’s practice round, highlighted his round by chipping in for birdie on the first hole (his 10th of the day) and holing a 50-foot birdie putt on the second hole.
“When things like that happen, you start to think it’s going to be your day,” he said.
The Houston, Texas resident recorded nine birdies and no bogeys for his best round ever in competition.
“I hit the ball so well off the tee you knew it couldn’t be a bad round and the course was just set up perfectly. The greens are just pure.”
McElyea recorded eight birdies and no bogeys and finished with birdies on holes 15-17.
Tied at 65 was Cal’s Max Homa, Carlsbad, California’s Trevor Simsby along with former University of Arkansas golfer Austin Cook, who finished third in the Trans- Miss last year.
Fresno’s Bryson DeChambeau, a sophomore at SMU in Dallas, and Cal golfer Brandon Hagy, who won a college tournament at the Meadow Club last fall, also shot a 65.
Homa was one of the earlier finishers and accurately predicted his 65 would not lead, but feels good about his early tournament position on his college home course
“I just feel comfortable here, knowing where to hit the ball off the tee and put the ball on the green. I think four rounds in the 60s here will put me in good shape.”
Starting on the 10th tee, he got off to a very quick start with five birdies on his first eight holes, then cooled off with two bogeys and two birdies the rest of the round.
“I am ready to go this week, it’s just a matter of getting putts to go in.”
Cook actually led the Trans-Miss going into the final round last year before he faltered and said he was motivated this year.
“I must like the courses where they bring the Trans-Miss to. They’re great courses which fit my game, just hitting fairways and greens.”
Simsby will be a senior at the University of Washington this year and while he has played against many of players in this year’s field, he had never seen the course.
“I won the Pac-12 Preview last year, played well in the spring and have taken that to the summer. This is a great course and I’m excited for the chance to play three more rounds.”
Defending champion Tyler Raber from UC Davis shot an opening round 71. There will be a 36-hole cut to the low 54 scores and ties after Wednesday’s second round.
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