Wittenberg (62) takes lead at Memphis sectional
CORDOVA, Tenn. –– Casey Wittenberg took advantage of local course knowledge to shoot a 9-under 62 and grab a one-stroke lead over Jeff Maggert and Peter Malnati after the first round of the 36-hole U.S. Open sectional qualifier at Colonial Country Club’s North and South courses.
“I played pretty clean golf,” said Wittenberg, who played his first round on the North course. “I hit it pretty tight and made some 10-15 footers.”
Wittenberg, a Memphis native, holed a bunker shot for eagle from the front-left greenside bunker on his first hole, the par-5 10th, and made the turn in 4-under 31. With his dad, James, on the bag, he birdied five of six holes between Nos. 2-7, breaking the string with a par at the fifth.
Wittenberg, who is playing the Web.com Tour this season, said he has a lot of experience playing at Colonial, dating to U.S. Junior Amateur qualifiers.
“This was the first time I played the North Course since they switched to Bermuda grass greens,” Wittenberg said.
Others enjoyed the course, too. Sixteen of the 17 morning rounds at 3 under or better were shot at the easier North course.
Maggert, 50, who is splitting time between the PGA and Champions tours, has competed in 15 U.S. Opens, but none since 2005 at Pinehurst. He canned a 25-foot birdie putt on his final hole, the ninth, to card a bogey-free 63.
“I made a lot of putts like that,” said Maggert, who opened with four straight birdies.
Former PGA champion David Toms led a group at 66, which included Joe Ogilvie, Daniel Chopra and David Gossett, the 1999 U.S. Amateur champion.
Amateur Trey Mullinax of NCAA national team-champion Alabama shot a bogey-free 4-under 67 in his first attempt to make it through sectional qualifying. Hudson Swafford posted the best score on the South Course with a 4-under 68.
Players were granted a 45-minute break between rounds. After 36 holes, the top-13 finishers will be rewarded with a spot in the 2014 U.S. Open field at Pinehurst Resort.