After a grueling 36 holes on a course that is boasting some of its toughest conditions ever, San Diego State golfer Xander Schauffele emerged as the early leader at the 113th SCGA Amateur Championship. Schauffele carded a two-round score of 5-under par 139 on the Big Canyon CC course, leading 47 golfers past the cut and into the final two rounds.
“Winning is the ultimate goal, but for the 36-hole day I just wanted to get myself in contention,” said Schauffele. “You know, you can shoot yourself out the first two rounds, it’s all about making the cut, but it turns out I did better than I thought I would.”
Schauffele, the 2011 California High School Champion, fired 10 birdies and just five bogeys in his 36 holes, taking advantage of the par 5s and struggling a bit on the par 3s. The San Diego native was a combined -5 on the par 5s, and +3 on the par 3s.
“I played here about a year ago, and I thought it was tough then, but they got the rough long and the greens are rock hard so I think this is the hardest this course can possibly play,” said Schauffele.
Eighty-four golfers began the day, with only the low 42 scores and ties advancing into the weekend. With 5-inch roughs and hard and fast greens, competitors were met with quite the challenge. Only six were able to break par by the end of the day.
Among those to master the course was 2011 California Amateur Champion Bhavik Patel, who since his state championship win has been on a tear, finishing fifth at last year’s SCGA Amateur and medaling at this year’s California Amateur. He continued to impress at Big Canyon Friday, firing back-to-back rounds of 1-under par 71 for a two-round total of 142. He sits three strokes behind leader Schauffele.
“If you had told me yesterday I’d be at 2-under after 36 holes I wouldn’t have been thrilled, but with the course in such great condition and playing so tough I’m definitely happy with it,” said Patel. “I really enjoy this event each year. I prepare for it more than I do others and it seems to really pay off.”
The first round of play was highlighted by two hole-in-ones, one by Gary Robinson of San Diego and one by incoming UCLA freshman Reilly McMahon. McMahon scored the ace on the 202-yard 12th hole.
“I knew I hit the shot well, and I saw it sitting on the edge of the hole, and the next time I looked up it was gone,” said McMahon. “As soon as I saw my dad’s hands go up in the air, I kind of knew it had gone in. It was my first hole-in-one, so it’s pretty special to get it on a stage like this.”
Competitors will be back on the course for one round starting at 8 a.m. tomorrow, with tee times extending through 9:40 a.m. Play will conclude Sunday with the final 18 holes.
Ever wondered how the projected cut is determined? Asst. Director of Rules & Competitions Jimmy Becker explains.