Lee opens strong at US Amateur

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2008 U.S. AmateurPINEHURST, N.C. ' A whirlwind of a month is almost over for Danny Lee.
 
First, he became only the sixth player in the 106-year history of the Western Amateur to sweep medalist and match play honors, joining a group that includes Phil Mickelson and Curtis Strange.
 
Then came a tie for 20th over the weekend in his PGA TOUR debut at the Wyndham Championship. Those performances leave the 18-year-old player from New Zealand as one of the favorites in the U.S. Amateur at Pinehurst, where he opened with a 1-over 71 in the opening round of stroke play Monday.
 
Can his confidence level get any higher?
 
It actually doesnt stop, he said. It goes up and up.
 
Qualifying for the 312-player field is split between Pinehursts No. 2 and No. 4 courses.
 
The low 64 scores after the second round will advance to match play, and a 36-hole championship match is scheduled for Sunday.
 
Because he was stuck about 90 miles away in Greensboro for the Wyndham, Lee hasnt had a chance to play the historic No. 2 course that hosted the 1999 and 2005 U.S. Open.
 
Some of my friends told me its a totally different course than No. 4, and they said its pretty hard around the greens, he said. All youve got to do is try to hit it on the center of the green. Im pretty good at that.
 
Heavy rain a day earlier left both courses playing a bit easier than usual, with approach shots landing softly and holding instead of skittering across the green. That was the case for Wesley Bryan, who posted a 3-under 67 on No. 2 to lead the morning groups.
 
Andrew Putnam later matched Bryans score on No. 4. Barden Berry (No. 2), Isaiah Telles (No. 4) and Matt Cook (No. 4) were a stroke back after 68s in the morning. Sihwan Kim (No. 2), David McDaniel (No. 4) and Jeff Edelman (No. 4) tied that score in the afternoon.
 
I hit four fairways and scrambled around all day, Bryan said. I was hitting it so far offline that I had some good lies in the pine straw and on the packed-down cart paths. You name it, I was on it. I got it up-and-down from everywhere.
 
Bryan will be a freshman at South Carolina this fall, where he will join his brother, George. Both are in the field this week; George Bryan didnt fare quite as well as his younger brother, finishing with a 73 on the No. 4 course.
 
Two of the other pre-tournament favorites, Kevin Tway and Jamie Lovemark, struggled.
 
Tway, whose father, former PGA champion Bob Tway, was on his bag, had three bogeys in his final six holes to shoot 73 on No. 2. Lovemark was one stroke worse at 74 on No. 4.
 
Last years winner, Colt Knost, turned professional and currently plays on the Nationwide Tour. No one has successfully defended his title since Tiger Woods capped his run of three consecutive U.S. Amateur titles in 1996.
 
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