ADA, Mich. – Gavin Hall has shattered the record for lowest 18-hole score at the U.S. Junior Amateur, carding a 10-under 62 Tuesday at rain-softened Egypt Valley Country Club.
Hall, 15, of Pittsford, N.Y., recorded nine birdies, an eagle and a bogey to beat the previous Junior Amateur mark by two shots and set a new course record at Egypt Valley.
Despite an opening-round 73, Hall is the clubhouse leader at 9-under 135, with the afternoon wave just getting under way. That group of players includes defending champion Jordan Spieth, who shot 67 in the opening round.
“After seeing the low scores yesterday, I really thought a low number was possible,” Hall said.
It was easily the lowest score Hall has posted in competition. In fact, he carded his previous low round (65) a week earlier, at the Rochester District Golf Association’s Ryan Championship at Oak Hill, an event he won by 12 shots. He had top-7 finishes in both AJGA invitational starts this season.
“I had a lot of confidence coming in,” Hall said, “but wanted to prove myself and redeem myself for last year.”
After rounds of 76-78 last year at Trump National, Hall failed to advance to the match-play portion of the championship, even though the cut ballooned to 11 over.
“I just learned to never give up,” Hall said. “Coming down the stretch I didn’t play as well as I needed to, and you’ve really just got to keep grinding out there because anything is possible.”
Starting on the back nine Tuesday, Hall birdied three of the first four holes to turn in 31, then poured in five more birdies coming in to shoot 62. His second-nine 30 also tied the lowest nine-hole score ever at the Junior Amateur, a feat matched some 30 minutes earlier by Justin Thomas (67).
Now that he’s guaranteed a high seed entering match play, Hall said he “can’t look at it and drag on (the 62). I’ve got to go into match play and play well and have a whole different mindset going in there.”
Thomas, playing his first Junior Amateur, made the turn in 1 over but finished with a flourish, birdieing the par-3 16th, chipping in for eagle on the par-5 17th, and stuffing his approach to a foot on the finishing hole for a closing birdie. Thomas is tied at 8 under with Davis Womble, who shot 69 in the second round. Ben Warnquist (68) and Emiliano Grillo (68) are four back of the lead.
“I struggled with my swing earlier but I started hitting it better and everything started clicking,” Thomas said. “The putts were falling, and it all came together on the back nine.”