Notes: Sterbinsky holds his own; 2nd hole tough

Kyle Sterbinsky finished with a 1-over 73 during Thursday's first round of the Junior Invitational at Sage Valley.

Boys Rankings »

#NameYearStateRating
1Sam Burns2015LA68.22
2Austin Connelly2015TX68.37
3Jorge Garcia2015FL68.39
4Andy Zhang2016FL68.4
5Davis Riley2015MS68.6

GRANITEVILLE, S.C. –– Kyle Sterbinsky played alongside two top-10 players in the Golfweek/Sagarin Junior Rankings during Thursday's first round at the Junior Invitational at Sage Valley.

Grouped with Brad Dalke and Sam Burns, Sterbinsky, a Wake Forest commit, said it felt like he was part of the featured pairing on Day 1.

“It was good, both good players and good guys,” Sterbinsky said. “Everyone had a good vibe going.”

After making the turn at 1 over, the 5-foot-10, Peddie School (Hightstown, N.J.) junior made birdies on Nos. 10, 13, 15 and 16 to get to 2 under for the tournament, but collapsed coming down the stretch. He finished double bogey-bogey at Nos. 17-18 to end up with a 1-over 73.

On 17, he thought he hit a good shot, but it landed on the front third of the green and rolled back into the water. Trying to remove that image from his head, Sterbinsky hit a decent drive on 18 to the middle of the fairway, but followed with a poor approach shot short of the green.

His bad luck continued when he failed to get his chip shot to stop on the green and the ball rolled back down to the front edge.

“This week is all about shot making,” the Yardley, Penn., native said. “I made three bogeys with wedges and I need to work on that. Except for 17 and 18 I had a solid round. But everything else feels solid.”

Sterbinsky said that Sage Valley suits his game perfectly and added that knowing the course from 2013 also helps.

He currently sits tied for 13th, four shots back of leader Theo Humphrey.

• • •

NO. 2 WRECKS HAVOC: The second hole played to an average of 4.04 strokes in Thursday’s first round, creating havoc early for the 54-player field.

England’s Ashton Turner, who teed off at 9:40 a.m., said it was very calm when he arrived at the 169-yard, par-3 hole.

“It (my tee shot) finished pin-high left, but with how the greens are and how quick they are, it’s not a guaranteed par from there,” Turner added.

Turner finished with a bogey after three-putting on the fast, tricky green at No. 2, but he wasn’t the only player to have trouble with Sage Valley’s signature hole. Four other players made quadruple-bogey six on the hole.

“It’s pretty tough,” Turner said. “With everything running off on the bottom half of the green, you want to go past the pin, but if you go past the pin then you have a shot coming back down. It’s playable but tough.”

As the greens get faster throughout the tournament, No. 2 could play a huge factor on the leaderboard.

Check out the aerial view of No. 2 at Sage Valley:

• • •

SHORTS SHOTS: The top seven spots belong to American players, but three of the five players tied for eighth at even par are international: Robin Dawson of Ireland, Renato Paratore of Italy and Matt Williams of Canada. . . . Keenan Huskey of Greenville, S.C., was a late addition to the field after George Cunningham withdrew Saturday night with a wrist injury. Despite two bogeys to close, Huskey finished with a first-round 72. . . . South Africa's Keegan de Lange began his first round with a quadruple eight at the par-4 opening hole and bogeys at the par-3 second and par-4 third holes. But he played his final 15 holes in even par to end up with a 6-over 78.

–– Brentley Romine contributed

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