ORLANDO, Fla. – It was a rough day on the course for recent Dartmouth graduate Peter Williamson.
In his first PGA Tour start, Williamson shot an 11-over 83 at Bay Hill Club & Lodge during Thursday’s first round of the Arnold Palmer Invitational. He was exempt after winning the 2012 Southern Amateur.
Although he shot four strokes higher than any other competitor in the morning wave, Williamson, a participant in the Walker Cup practice session in December, is just taking it all in.
“This is a lot of fun,” he said. “I came out working on a lot of things over the winter to try and get used to that 12-month golf season. But obviously I didn’t have it in the cards today.”
His scorecard consisted of two birdies, seven bogeys, one double bogey and one quadruple bogey.
“I’m just not on top of my game right now,” Williamson said.
He said that playing competitors Ross Fisher and Erik Compton were accommodating to his play. As golfers know, it’s hard to play with someone who is struggling.
“They were both very nice,” Williamson said. “I was a little apologetic today because I didn’t play that well, but that’s golf. They were both good to me though, very patient and said a few good words.”
Williamson, who also won the North & South Amateur last summer, insisted that he wasn’t nervous on the first tee or during his round.
“I just didn’t have it,” he said. “I had two-way misses all day today, and you really can’t play this golf course when you have a two-way miss.”
He ended his round birdie-par on Nos. 8 and 9. On No. 8, he was the only player in the group to hit the fairway – then hit his iron to 3 feet. A high five with his father/caddie, Doug, ensued when the putt fell. On No. 9, after hitting draw after draw all day off the tee, he hit a fade and went into the tents in the right rough. He found his ball, hit his approach shot short, then was able to get up and down from just off the green.
“At least that puts a good taste in my mouth heading into tomorrow,” Williamson said. “If I could get out tomorrow and somehow get hot, and maybe make the cut on the number or something like that. Obviously the idea is to shoot as low as I can go, but at the end of the day, I’m going to go out and have fun.”