The melting pot that is the 2014 Azalea Invitational field was well-represented Thursday in the first round of the 66th playing of the event in Charleston, S.C.
With an impressive field of juniors, collegians and mid-amateurs, the Azalea got underway Thursday from the Country Club of Charleston. And that ecclectic group showed that age or experience doesn’t matter when it comes to the highest level of amateur competition as all three groups were well-represented atop the leaderboard.
Hilton Head-area mid-amateur John Patterson holds a one-shot lead over the field after Round 1. The former pro turned in a 6-under 65 on the 6,587-yard Seth Raynor design.
Patterson caught fire late in each nine, recording birdies on Nos. 7, 8 and 9 before doing the same on 15, 16 and 17. His only blemish on the day came on a bogey on the par-4 18th.
Hans Reimers of Mercer and Edward Figueroa of Florida Gulf Coast both shot 5-under 66 and are positioned well to contend in one of the season’s biggest events.
Michael Johnson of Auburn, who won the Dogwood Invitational last summer in impressive fashion and recently conteded at the Jones Cup, shot 2-under 69 and is tied for fourth alongside Parker Derby of the University of Georgia.
North Florida’s M.J. Maguire and Arizona State’s Grayson Murray are among a group of 10 players tied for sixth place at 1 under.
Defending champion Austin Langdale, a freshman at Clemson, shot 1-over 72.
Following Patterson in the mid-amateur contingency is Missouri’s Skip Berkmeyer and Brad Wilder of Kentucky, who are tied for 16th at even par.
North Carolina’s Scott Harvey, New Orleans’ Patrick Christovich and John Sawin, the reigning Stocker Cup champion, are part of a big group locked at 1-over entering Friday’s second round.
Former U.S. Open competitor Andy Zhang is the top junior competitor. The No. 3-ranked player in the Golfweek Boys Junior Rankings, Zhang shot 1-under 70 and is tied for sixth.
Following Saturday’s third round, the field will be cut to the low 60 and ties.