ERIN, Wis. – Blake Biddle, John Hahn and Gregor Main each shot rounds of 5 under to share the lead after the first round of stroke play at the U.S. Amateur.
Defending champion Peter Uihlein also got off to a good start in his title defense. The 21-year-old posted 68 at Erin Hills to lead a group of seven players one stroke behind the leaders.
“I felt free on the tee and I was relaxed out there,” Uihlein said. “I made a couple of really greasy pars, which I probably never should have but I missed a couple of easy birdie putts too.”
Biddle, a 19-year-old sophomore at UNLV, played on the 7,760-yard beast that is Erin Hills and shot 67 after making birdie on four of the first nine holes. Main, a 22-year-old All-American while at UCLA, and Hahn, an All-American from Kent State, both shot 65 at the shorter par-70 Blue Mound Golf and Country Club in nearby Wauwatosa.
“I’ll take it,” Biddle said. “It was a good day. The course was really long, although some guys might not think so. If you hit it well, you can score.
“It was kind of an easy round, believe it or not. Today was one of those days to keep it under my belt and keep myself in it and shoot par or better and obviously I did that.”
Main, runner-up at the 2010 Western Amateur, won 2009 Pac-10 Conference Freshman of the Year honors at UCLA but left the program after his junior season in 2011.
“It was fun,” Main said. “I hit it really well. It was probably the best round I’ve had all summer.
“I felt like the course was out there for the taking today, because the conditions were pretty benign. There was not too much wind. The greens were perfect, so you could get it going.”
Hahn advanced to the third round of the U.S. Amateur last year at Chambers Bay and lost to eventual champion Uihlein.
“I saw Gregor (Main) shot 65 in the morning, and I knew it was out there,” Hahn said. “I was thinking about it all day. Putts weren’t going in, so I was kind of getting frustrated. I luckily stayed in it and stayed calm and made them right at the end.”
Russell Henley, Patrick Rodgers, Jonathan Garrick, Anton Arboleda each shot 66 at Blue Mound while Justin Thomas and Blayne Barber and both shot 68 at Erin Hills.
Following Tuesday’s second round of stroke play the field will be cut to 64 for match play. The championship will end Sunday with a 36-hole final.