Fil-Am golfer Rico Hoey off to fine start; three share first-round lead at US Amateur Championship

RICO Hoey had a roller-coaster round of 70 for joint 24th at the start of stroke play qualifying in the US Amateur Championship on Monday in Atlanta (Tuesday, Manila time).

The young Fil-American golfer, a member of the Philippine team that won the Putra Cup last year, scattered five birdies at Atlanta Athletic Club, to sit five strokes off co-leaders Jimmy Beck and Taylor Moore of the US and Sam Horsfield of England.

It was a tough start on the back nine of the par-71 Highlands Course for Hoey, making birdie on No. 12 only to give it up right on the next hole. He then made double-bogey on the par-3 No. 15 but recovered that with back-to-back birdies.

Hoey, a shotmaker from Rancho Cucamonga in California, played a little steadier on the front with two birdies against one bogey.

Beck, from Columbus, Georgia, had a 65 on the Highlands Course, while Horsfield and Taylor shot 66s on the par-72 Riverside Course.

Lee McCoy of Clarkesville, Georgia, was one shot back after a 67 on Riverside. Tied for fifth at 4-under were Jonathan Garrick of Atherton, California, who shot 67 on Highlands, and Cameron Young of Scarsborough, New York, who had a 68 on Riverside.

The field of 312 players will be cut to 64 after Tuesday's round. The format then switches to match play on Wednesday, leading up to the championship on Sunday.

Beck, a senior at Kennesaw State University, won the 2013 Georgia Amateur champion and finished second in the Georgia Open two weeks ago. He got off to a fast start Monday with birdies at Nos. 2 and 3 and finished with seven birdies and one bogey.

"I've been playing well coming into this and just to see putts fall, continue to fall and just hit it where you want to hit it, it's a good feeling," Beck said. "I was just really trying to have fun and end the summer right and what better way to do it than right here in Georgia."

Horsfield, 17, is playing in his second US Amateur and has an impressive record in USGA events. He reached the semifinals at this year's US Junior Amateur and has made match play three times at the US Public Links Championship.

"Hopefully I won't have to worry about the cut," Horsfield said after a round with six birdies and no bogeys. "Hopefully I can just go out there and play toward the center of the greens, don't do anything stupid. I don't have to fire at pins like I would if I was close to the cut line."


The outcome was a surprise for McCoy, a junior at the University of Georgia, who was frustrated by his poor performance on the practice tee prior to the first round.

"I had probably the worst warmup session in my life this morning," McCoy said. "Going to the first tee, I told my dad, 'I'm hitting it sideways.' I was hitting it so bad. I had a good swing thought on the first tee. Something kind of clicked and had a good tee ball and I kind of rolled from there, made a couple long putts I should have made."

In danger of failing to advance to match play is No. 1-ranked amateur Ollie Schniederjans of Powder Springs, Georgia. The Georgia Tech senior shot a 2-over 73 on Highlands and is tied for 106th. Second-ranked Robby Shelton of Wilmer, Alabama, is among 10 players tied for seventh at 3 under.

The Highlands Course, which hosted the 1976 US Open and three PGA Championships, played to an average of 74.6. The Riverside Course, site of the 1990 US Women's Open, played to an average of 74.9.

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