EVERETT — On a day of struggles for several past champions and other veterans, the youngsters took charge during Saturday’s first round of the 81st annual Snohomish County Amateur golf tournament.
Leading the way was 19-year-old Reid Martin, who posted a round of 6-under-par 66 under mostly
sunny skies at Legion Memorial Golf Course. Martin, a 2009 graduate of Mukilteo’s Kamiak High School and a member of the University of Central Florida golf team, finished with seven birdies and a bogey while setting a tournament course record from the back tees.
“I really didn’t hit it that great,” said Martin, one of the longest hitters in the first-division field (handicaps of 4.9 or better). “I kind of scrapped it around, made some putts here and there, and put together a good round.”
Martin is one stroke better than Kris Jackson and two shots ahead of Sean Fitzpatrick, a pair of 2007 high school graduates. The 21-year-old Jackson is a Lynnwood High School alum and Fitzpatrick, 22, attended Mill Creek’s Jackson High School.
The only other players under par on Saturday were Stephen Lee of Everett, the 2009 County Am champ, and Mill Creek’s Conner Denessen, who are tied for fourth after shooting 1-under 71s.
Martin started the day with a birdie on No. 1 and made the turn at 1-under 35. But from there he went on a birdie binge with five over the last nine holes, including consecutive birdies on Nos. 13, 14 and 15.
“I was struggling off the tee at the start and wasn’t making solid contact for the first six or seven holes,” he said. “When I hit the back nine I really didn’t hit it that much better, but my putter got hot.”
Martin had a 20-foot birdie putt on the first hole, an 18-footer for birdie on No. 6, and 15-footers for birdie on the 14th and 18th holes. But his best swing was probably his tee shot on No. 13, a 230-yard par-3 that was devilish on Saturday due to distance and a tricky pin placement.
Using a 3-iron, Martin dropped his ball a mere 8 feet from the cup, leading to another birdie putt. It was, he said, “definitely my best shot of the day.”
Though 36 holes of golf remain, Martin allowed himself to imagine the thrill of winning a County Am title.
“A lot of great players have played (in this tournament) and won it,” he said, “so it’d mean a lot. I’ve been right there the last couple of years, but haven’t got it done. So it’d be a confidence booster for me that I was finally able to get it done.”
Jackson, who recently completed his senior season at Seattle University, bogeyed the first hole, parred the next two, and then birdied six of the next seven holes on his way to a 5-under 67. He has played sparingly of late as he prepares for his upcoming college graduation, but “I’ve been putting a lot in my apartment and I made a lot of putts today,” he said.
Fitzpatrick, who played two years of golf at Chabot College in Hayward, Calif., turned in a 4-under 68 despite a disappointing double-bogey on No. 13. His round also included a bogey, five birdies and a terrific eagle on the par-5 18th hole.
Defending champion Lance Kilbride finished with a 3-over 75 and is tied for 22nd.
Alex Stamey and Todd Tibke are both four-time champions hoping to win No. 5 and tie Bob Whisman for the most County Am victories in tournament history. But both have some work to do. Stamey had a 2-over 74 and is tied for 18th, and Tibke was in the tie for 22nd after a 3-over 75.
The first division moves to Marysville’s Cedarcrest Golf Course for today’s second round before Monday’s traditional final round at Everett Golf and Country Club.
The second division (for handicaps of 5.0 to 10.0) and third division (10.1 and higher) played their opening rounds at Cedarcrest. Bob Bissitt leads the second division with a low-net 65, one stroke better than Bob Wallin, Gene Tompkins and Ira Armad. Rob Sprague leads the third division with a low-net 62, one shot ahead of Darrell Stubblefield and James Spring.
The second and third divisions will play their second rounds today at Everett Golf and Country Club.