Amateur roundup: Fitzpatrick fires 71 despite penalty

Amateur Matthew Fitzpatrick hits his tee shot on the fifth hole during the first round of the U.S. Open at Pinehurst No. 2.
Amateur Matthew Fitzpatrick hits his tee shot on the fifth hole during the first round of the U.S. Open at Pinehurst No. 2. ( Getty Images )

Thursday, June 12, 2014

PINEHURST, N.C. – Matthew Fitzpatrick knew the fans hadn't shown up at 7:51 a.m. to watch the reigning U.S. Amateur champion take on Pinehurst No. 2.

The amateur had two pretty big names on the 10th tee that would keep him company all day – Phil Mickelson and Justin Rose.

Yet, it was the 19-year-old who provided the early fireworks and buzz.

Fitzpatrick matched Mickelson's birdie at No. 10 and then added a 20-footer at No. 12 to leap into a very early tie for the U.S. Open lead. He'd add two bogeys and a birdie on his first nine to make the turn in red figures at 1 under.

"With everyone supporting Phil, you feel kind of left out and everyone is against you. But at the same time, to hear the cheers like that is pretty special," said Fitzpatrick, playing his last tournament as an amateur before his pro debut at the Irish Open next week. "… Once I started playing pretty solid, I had quite a few people shouting my name, so that was quite nice, as well."

They got a little louder after the Englishman birdied the par-4 second to move to 2 under and into a tie for the lead.

But the wheels came off as he got closer to the clubhouse, posting bogeys at Nos. 5 and 6 to fall back to even par. After a par at No. 7, Fitzpatrick went over the back of the eighth green. While taking practice swings, his ball moved. He motioned for an official and it was determined Fitzpatrick would receive a one-shot penalty and the ball would be moved back to its original position.

"I think looking back it was the right decision. Everyone seems to tell me it was the right decision. And now I think it is the right thing to do for me at the time. And it was important to take my opportunities while they were there, really. I think it was the right move," said Fitzpatrick.

The youngster would manage to get up-and-down to save bogey and then finished off with a solid par at No. 9. Fitzpatrick, the low amateur at the Open Championship in 2013, is tied with Oliver Goss for the same distinction after their 1-over 71s.

Here's a look at how the other amateurs in the field fared on Thursday:

Oliver Goss (71) is the only other amateur in earshot of any potential cut line, playing very steady golf with 14 pars, two birdies, a bogey and a double bogey. The Tennessee junior was on the first page of the leaderboard after a birdie on No. 10, but followed with the double at No. 11 before finishing with seven pars.

Maverick McNealy (74) stole some TV time early after he birdied the par-4 13th hole to move into red figures and put a second amateur on the leaderboard. Unfortunately for the Stanford sophomore, it was short-lived. McNealy posted bogeys at Nos. 17 and 18 before making the turn; he added bogeys at Nos. 2 and 7, with a double in between at No. 4. McNealy did manage to end his day on a positive note, posting a birdie on the difficult par-3 ninth.

Hunter Stewart (75) had bogeys on four of his first seven holes, but had two birdies on his incoming nine to salvage a 5-over round. The Vanderbilt senior only hit 8 of 18 greens on the day.

Brian Campbell (76) opened his round with a double bogey and was never able to recover, posting four additional bogeys against no birdies. The rising Illinois senior hit 12 fairways and 10 greens in regulation, but used 33 putts en route to the 76.

Will Grimmer (77) didn't like simple pars all that much Thursday, picking up eight bogeys, two doubles and five birdies in a wild first round for the 17-year-old. The Ohio State commit had four bogeys before the turn, Grimmer posted three consecutive birdies to start his incoming nine.

Cory Whitsett (77) had seven bogeys and a double en route to his less-than-stellar afternoon round. The Alabama product did have two birdies, but will need something special to even sniff the cut.

Cameron Wilson (78) bogeyed five of his first six holes and the NCAA individual champion had a forgettable first round at Pinehurst. Wilson had 44 putts on the round despite hitting 15 of 18 greens in regulation.

Robby Shelton (78) failed to keep his NCAA momentum going in the opening round, failing to record a birdie, posting six bogeys and a double. While hitting 12 fairways, Shelton only managed to hit 9 of 18 greens, a bit surprising consider the morning conditions were more benign.

Andrew Dorn (79) went out in 8-over 43, but returned a 1-over 36 on the back nine to avoid shooting 80. The Coastal Carolina senior hit only 7 of 18 greens in regulation.

Brandon McIver (82) tripled his first hole of the day – the par-5 10th – and seemed to be rattled for the remainder of the day, posting only one birdie despite his tremendous length off the tee. readers: We value your input and welcome your comments, but please be respectful in this forum.