US Amateur Stars Shine After Opening Round In Texas


Canadian Tour-LargeFormer U.S. Amateur champion Jeff Quinney had a memorable start to his Canadian Tour career Thursday during the opening round of the Texas Classic near Houston.
Playing in his initial tour event after gaining an exempt card at last months Winter Qualifying School in Florida, the 2000 U.S. Amateur champion fired a Kingwood Country Club record 8-under 64. He holds a two-shot lead over fellow Americans Roger Tambellini, Brian Payne and reigning U.S. Amateur champion Bubba Dickerson.
Having not yet turned pro, Dickerson was exempted into the Canadian Tours first official event of the season as an amateur.
Texan Chris Wall is three strokes off the pace, while Bryan Parry, Andrew Smeeth and Brett Bingham are the top Canadians at 3-under.
Spectators and viewers watching live on The Golf Channel were treated to a rare opportunity of seeing three U.S. Amateur champions playing in the same group when 1998 champion Hank Kuehne was teamed with Quinney and Dickerson. Kuehne shot an even-par 72 and is tied for 57th spot.
Quinney, who won his U.S. Amateur title over fellow Canadian Tour member James Driscoll, played a bogey-free round Thursday, carding an identical 4-under 32 over both the front and back nine.
Yeah, it was a pretty good start for me on this Tour, smiled Quinney, a member of the 2001 U.S. Walker Cup Team. It was a great group for me to play in, and I was hitting it close to the pin all day. You can make a lot more birdies when your putts are from four feet instead of fifteen.
Quinner, a three-time All-American at Arizona State, took full advantage of the unique chance to play with Driscoll and Dickerson Thursday. He hit 15 of 18 greens in regulation and needed just 26 putts for the round.
It was a lot of fun, we just laughed and shared some of our experiences,' he said. 'You just have to go in and play your own gameI know I cant hit the ball as far as Hank off the tee, not many people can, but its what happens after that that counts. I had a chance to play with Hank a lot at Q-school last month, but this was the first time I have been paired with Bubba.
It feels good to start strong, but there is still 54 holes left and a lot can happen between now and then. I just wanted to show everyone I have improved my game and I am here to try and win this thing.
Wall, who hails from Dallas, finished his round a few minutes before Quinney and was actually the clubhouse leader for a short time. As Quinney signed his card, Wall must have had a sense of deja-vu - at last years season-ending Bayer Championship in Sarnia, Ontario, the 27-year-old fired a Huron Oaks course record 10-under 61 during the final round. A few hours later, Atlantas Jason Bohn put the final touches on a 13-under 58, winning the tournament and erasing Walls benchmark along the way.
Theres no doubt about it, getting a start like this is just what I was looking for, said Wall, who chipped in for par on the final hole, salvaging his own bogey-free round. That shot on 18 was key. If you look at the guys who grabbed cards at Q-school, plus the guys who have played this Tour in the past, you know that out here one shot is going to mean so much.