CLEMSON, S.C. — Clemson senior Jacob Bridgeman fired a seven-under-par 63 and has the lead out of 312 golfers after the first round of the 2021 United States Amateur in Pennsylvania on Monday. The first two rounds serve as a stroke play qualifier over Monday and Tuesday. Each player will play one round at the Longue Vue Golf Club in Verona, Pa and one round at the famed Oakmont Country Club in Oakmont, Pa.
Bridgeman played his first round at the statistically easier Longue Vue Golf Club on Monday and he responded with a round that tied for the fourth lowest in the history of the United States Amateur. The tournament dates to 1895. It was just three shots off Billy Horschel’s record 60 at Chaska Town Course in Chaska, Minn in 2006.
Forty-one of the 42 golfers who shot under par in the first round played the Longue Vue Club. The only one who shot under par at Oakmont was Cole Sherwood of Vanderbilt. Bridgeman has a one shot lead over Joe Highsmith of Pepperdine, Mark Goetz of West Virginia and Alex Fitzpatrick of ACC rival Wake Forest who all had rounds of 64.
Knowing he was playing the easier Longue Vue Course in the opening round, Bridgeman took a conservative approach. “We took the approach that we would play smart and conservative and take what the course gave us,” said Bridgeman after his round. “The par-three holes were difficult except for number-10 (which played at 133 yards). The par-four holes were getable if you took advantage of some of the slopes on the greens. And the par-fives were regular par fives.”
Bridgeman did not get off to an explosive start. Beginning at the ninth hole, the native of Inman, SC made a birdie on the short par-three 10th, but he made bogey on the 211-yard par-three 12th. He was just even par after five holes before he made a move up the leaderboard. Bridgeman made birdie on the 14th, 15th and 18th holes to finish with a three-under-par 31 on the back side, his first nine of the day.
After making consecutive pars on the holes 1-3, he made birdies on the fourth and sixth holes. The 314-yard par four seventh hole was a highlight. “I hit a really good drive down the left and it ran onto the green to within four feet of the pin.” Bridgeman made the eagle putt, something he did just twice for Clemson this year when he earned second-team All-America honors.
The ACC Scholar Athlete of the Year for Men’s golf had a par five left, but missed a 14-foot putt for birdie and finished with the seven-under-par 63, his lowest round in a US Amateur by six shots and the lowest round by any Clemson golfer in history at the event. “I can’t remember the last time I shot a 63,” said Bridgeman. “It was a great day out there, but I know tomorrow will be much harder (at Oakmont).”
Bridgeman’s career low playing for Clemson is a 64, achieved three times with the last coming in the first round of the Palmetto Amateur at the Palmetto Club in Aiken, SC last March. He went on to win that tournament with a 199 score for three rounds.
While he would love to be the medalist for the 36-hole qualifier, he just needs to get into the 64-player match play tournament at the end of play Tuesday night. Each of the last two years he has failed to advance from large playoff groupings that featured 18 and 27 players, in 2019 and 2020, respectively.
Lowest 18-hole Stroke Play Qualifying Scores US Amateur History
60, Billy Horschel, 1st round, Chaska Town Course, Chaska, Minn, 2006
62, Jeff Wilson, 1st round, The Home Course, Dupont, Wash., 2010
62, Wilson Furr, 2nd round, Bandon Dunes (Banndon Trails), Bandon, Ore. 2020
63, Robert Godfrey, 1st round, East Lake Golf Club, Atlanta, Ga. 2001
63, Chris Mundorf, 2nd Round, Druid Hills Golf Club, Atlanta, Ga., 2001
63 Scott Langley, 2nd round, blue Mount Golf and Country Club, Wauwatosa, Wis. 2011
63 Jacob Bridgeman, 1st round, Longue Vue, Verona, Pa., 2021