Matt Hoffman made five birdies in his round Tuesday.
Aug. 12, 2008
Lethbridge, AB - Something clicked in Matt Hoffman's game early in his round Tuesday. The Illini junior played the final 16 holes of the Paradise Canyon Golf Course in Lethbridge, Alberta, at five-under par with five birdies and no bogeys and finds himself in the hunt after 36 holes of the Canadian Amateur Championship.
Hoffman shot one-over par 72 in the first round of the 72-hole event and found the rough off the tee on the 11th hole, his second of the day, en route to a triple bogey seven.
"From there, I just decided to take it one hole at a time," Hoffman said. "Slowly and surely I started making shots. I hit every fairway and every green the rest of the day."
The result was a two-under par 69 putting Hoffman at -1 141, good for a tie for 11th place midway through the event. The Thornhill, Ontario, native is three strokes behind co-leaders Cam Burke of New Hamburg, Ontario, and Graham Baillargeon of Mississauga, Ontario.
While Monday's round at the canyon course included wind gusts of over 40 miles per hour, Tuesday presented very little wind. That meant Hoffman could attack the course.
"I knew I needed to just hit the ball in the fairway," Hoffman said. "It's exciting to be in contention at a national championship. I just have to continue to take it one stroke, one hole at a time, and hopefully I'll be there at the end.
Over 1,500 miles away, four of Hoffman's Illinois teammates embarked on the first round of the Illinois State Amateur at Cantigny Golf Club in Wheaton, Ill. Of those four, junior Zach Barlow finds himself in the best shape with a first round 72 on the 7,055-yard par-72 course.
Best known for his short game, Barlow used that aspect to his advantage in staying in range of the leaders. He is in a seven-way tie for 11th, three strokes behind first-round leader Max Scodro. Barlow's round included four birdies and four bogeys.
"The rough around the greens reminded me of the NCAA course," Barlow said. "My short game was good to me today, and that made all the difference."
The 54-hole event continues Tuesday and Wednesday.
* Freshman Luke Guthrie, ranked 24th in the latest junior rankings, begins play Wednesday at the 33rd Junior PGA Championship at TPC River Bend in Maineville, Ohio. The 2007 Junior PGA Player of the Year is trying to make it back-to-back titles for Illini. Sophomore Chris DeForest claimed the title last year.