Gooch (64) Early Leader For APL Medalist July 9, 2012 By Michael Trostel, USGA

Talor Gooch's 64 on Tuesday at Soldier Hollow Golf Course was one stroke off the U.S. Amateur Public Links Championship record. (Steven Gibbons/USGA)

Midway, Utah – Talor Gooch shot a championship-best 7-under 64 for a 6-under-par 136 total on Tuesday morning to take the clubhouse lead for stroke-play medalist honors at the 2012 U.S. Amateur Public Links being conducted at the 6,670-yard Soldier Hollow Golf Course.

Playing in the first group off the 10th hole, Gooch, 20, of Midwest City, Okla., birdied his first two holes, making eight in total, en route to his nearly record-breaking round. Danny Green shot 63 at Rush Creek G.C. in Maple Grove, Minn., during the first round of the 2004 APL.

It was one of those days where everything was on, said Gooch, a rising junior at Oklahoma State University. I only missed one or two fairways and maybe one green. When you’re getting that many opportunities, you have a chance to shoot a score like this.

On Monday, Gooch four-putted the 10th hole for double bogey to drop to three over for the championship, but remained confident that he could turn it around.

Just because you’re three over through 10, it doesn’t mean the tournament is over, said Gooch, who lost in the round of 16 in the 2011 APL at Bandon Dunes Resort in Oregon. I tend to make my birdies in bunches so I knew if I just stayed patient and hit fairways and greens, I was eventually going to make some birdies.

First round co-leader Cheng-Tsung Pan of Chinese Taipei continued his consistent play, shooting an even-par 71 for a 36-hole total of 4-under 138.

In what he called a boring round, Pan, 20, made two birdies and two bogeys. While his ball-striking was just as sharp as it was during Monday’s 67, he felt he let some strokes get away on the greens.

I hit lots of fairways and lots of greens, but the putting wasn’t as sharp as yesterday, said Pan, who was accompanied by his sister, who lives in Chinese Taipei but has been visiting Pan in the U.S. for the past month.

Three months ago, Pan, a rising sophomore at the University of Washington, played a friendly match against BYU at Soldier Hollow. The 2011 U.S. Open qualifier feels that experience has given him an edge this week.

Because of the elevation, distance control is really important here, said Pan, and the two practice rounds I played helped me get an idea how far my shots would go.

Local favorite Zac Blair (71-69—140), 21, of Ogden, Utah, and BYU’s Justin Keiley (69-71—140) also played Tuesday morning and have positioned themselves to qualify for match play.

First round co-leader Jace Long (67), Dan Horner (69) of Sandy, Utah, and 2011 APL runner-up Derek Ernst (70) are among 78 golfers who have afternoon starting times on Tuesday.

After Tuesday’s second round of stroke play, the field will be cut to the low 64 scorers for match play, which begins on Wednesday. The 36-hole final is scheduled for Saturday.

Mike Trostel is the curator/historian at the USGA Museum. Email him at mtrostel@usga.org.