Ada, Mich. (July 20) -- Cloud cover visited western Michigan’s Egypt Valley Country Club on Tuesday morning, but that didn’t stop Gavin Hall, 15, of Pittsford, N.Y., from shooting a scorching 10-under 62 to set a U.S. Junior Amateur Championship record in the second day of stroke-play qualifying. Hall’s round eclipsed the Junior Amateur’s previous best-ever mark of 64 set by Joe Monte in 2004 at Longmeadow (Mass.) Country Club.
Hall’s total is also the second-lowest score in a USGA championship. Billy Horschel shot 60 in the first round of the 2006 U.S. Amateur Championship at Chaska (Minn) Town Course (the second stroke-play course) and went on to take medalist honors.
The clubhouse leader following the morning wave at 9-under 135, Hall also posted a competitive course record at Egypt Valley, breaking Larry Nelson’s score of 9-under-par 63 at the 2000 Foremost Insurance Championship, a Champions Tour stop that year.
Justin Thomas, 17, of Goshen, Ky., posted a second day 67 and is tied for the second low qualifier at lunch at 8-under 136, along with Davis Womble, 16, of High Point, N.C., who carded a second day 69. Argentina’s Emiliano Grillo and Ben Warnquist of Rockville, Md., had 68 (138, six under).
Hall is the story of the championship. After shooting a first-round 73, he birdied three of his first four holes and shot five under on his front nine (Nos. 10-18), including eagling the par-5 17th hole from 20 feet. Firing at flagsticks all day, he played a six-hole stretch on his second nine in five under par with his longest putt coming from 15 feet.
After seeing all the low scores [Monday], I really thought a low number was out there, Hall said. It’s exciting. To go out to a course that I’ve played twice, it’s definitely cool to set [a record] at the U.S. Junior.
I didn’t want to do anything abnormal, stuck with the game plan and got hot coming down the stretch, which was nice. It’s a good feeling, but I have to go into match play and play well.
Hall wasn’t the only record-setter on day two. Thomas’s inward-half aggregate equaled a U.S. Junior Amateur record for nine holes, set three times previously. It was a tale of two nines for Thomas, who shot one over on the outward nine before collecting four birdies and an eagle coming in and finishing his round birdie-eagle-birdie. Thomas chipped in for eagle at the par-5 17th hole and got some putts to fall on the second nine.
I’ve been putting so well, but just nothing’s going in. I’ve been waiting for when they’ll all start falling in. I’ve been working so hard at it, said Thomas, who won the 2009 FootJoy Invitational to earn a sponsor’s exemption into PGA Tour’s Wyndham Championship, where he made the 36-hole cut.
Womble also wielded a hot putter on the inward nine, playing a five-hole span of holes from Nos. 13-17 in four under. He started the surge by holing a 35-footer at No. 13, then drained downhill birdie putts of 18 and 20 feet, respectively, at Nos. 16 and 17 to complete the run.
Another 78 competitors had afternoon starting times.
Andrew Blair is the communications director for the Virginia State Golf Association. He’s contributing articles at this week's U.S. Junior Amateur for the USGA.