Player Information/Pairings/Results 

 

 

July 13, 2024

 

 

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July 12, 2024

Salinas resident AJ Fitzgerald has already had a solid season. Things could soon get even better.

Fitzgerald, who's currently at No.5 in the race for NCGA Player of the Year honors, took a two-shot lead over the field at this weekend's NCGA Amateur Stroke Play Championship on Friday at Poppy Hills thanks to a stellar, first-round 5-under 66.

The runner-up at this year's San Francisco City (he'd lose a heartbreaker on the 36th hole to friend Mikey Burkland), Fitzgerald had a sensational 31 on the front-nine that was highlighted by a stretch of four consecutive birdies on holes Nos. 4 though 7. He'd also tack on a birdie on the par-5 9th.
Just how good was the 66? There have been only two lower rounds--a pair of tournament-record 65s--posted by Kevin Lucas and Jonathan De Los Reyes in 2010 and 2015, respectively since the event returned in 2004 after a hiatus. Lucas went on to win, De Los Reyes did not. Last year's winner, John Stembridge, also opened with a 66 on his way to hoisting the trophy.

Also going low early were University of Seattle junior Ben Ragland and University of Oregon junior James Gould-Healy, who each shot 68.

Four players came in at 69 including two-time champion Nick Randazzo (2018, 2020) and Jeremy Gearhart. Randazzo is chasing his 12th NCGA title, which would be third-most all-time behind only NCGA Hall of Famers Casey Boyns and Randy Haag. Gearhart, winner of the 2023 NCGA Public Links Championship, earlier this year finished as runner-up at the NCGA Mid-Amateur.

Following Saturday's second round, a cut will be made with the low 30 (and ties) advancing to Sunday's final round.

 

 

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