GERMANTOWN, Tenn. – Andres Gonzales’ Twitter bio says, “half man, half amazing.” He was full-on amazing in the opening round of U.S. Open sectional qualifying at Germantown Country Club.
Gonzales fired a 7-under 64 in the morning of the 36-hole U.S. Open sectional qualifier, one stroke shy of Phil Mickelson’s course record set in 1992.
“I drove it well, struck it well, and putted well. I’d say it was a solid day all in all,” Gonzales said.
He made a 30-foot eagle putt on 18 to tour his first nine in 5 under. The next best score at Germantown CC was a 66 by Brice Garnett.
Gonzales has one previous U.S. Open appearance in 2011. He played the Germantown course for the first time on Saturday. That was one more time than Robert Allenby, who carded a 5-under 66 at Ridgeway Country Club, the second course in use at the Memphis sectional qualifier this year. Allenby drove around both courses on Sunday, but said it was too busy and too hot.
“I’ve been doing this too long,” said the 44-year-old Aussie.
Allenby said he hit all 18 greens and made one bogey.
“Boring golf,” he said.
Former PGA champion David Toms matched Allenby with 66 at Ridgeway. Toms failed to qualify for last year’s Open, ending a streak of 16 straight years he had qualified for his national championship. At age 49, he still hungers for a chance to win another major.
“I think it was a lot easier for me to do this 20 years ago than it is now,” Toms said.
The youth brigade fired a few low numbers too. Amateur Dawson Armstrong of Brentwood, Tenn., shot 66 at Ridgeway, and shared third place.
Amateur Sam Burns of Shreveport, La., who finished his freshman year at LSU, signed for 67 at Ridgeway and was among a large group at 4 under. The top 10 finishers will earn a berth to the 2016 U.S. Open at Oakmont Country Club outside of Pittsburgh.
Sunshine, low humidity, and soft conditions made for low scoring in the morning. The wind is expected to pick up in the afternoon and the greens may dry out. Nerves certainly will fray.
“It’s a long day no matter, but it’s worth it if you make it,” Toms said.