Justin Leonard was the last player to win back-to-back Southern Amateurs, 1992-93.
'I hit it straight, but except for that one, I didn't make many putts outside of a few feet,' said Williams, who holds a one-stroke lead over reigning USGA Mid-Am champ George Zahringer of New York City and Patrick Carter of Huntington, West Virginia.
Grouped with Williams and Zahringer, newly crowned young Southern Junior champ Beck Troutman experienced a nervous start, topping his first tee shot and soared to 3-over-par through his first five holes. However, the promising 18-year-old Mississippian regained his composure to shoot 2-under for the remainder of his round and finished at 71, tied for 17th. Low Virginian is Nick Mason of Alexandria at 72.
Only 13 players broke par 70 in the first lap around the difficult Cascades layout. The 156 contestants will be cut to the low 66 players following Thursday's second round. Final round is scheduled for Saturday.
FIRST ROUND LEADERS
Southern Amateur, Cascades Course, Par 70, 6615 yards
The Homestead, Hot Springs, Va.
Lee Williams, Alexander City, AL 33-33--66
George Zahringer, NY, NY 35-32--67
Patrick Carter, Huntington, WV 33-34--67
Ramon Bescansa, Santiago, Spain 33-35--68
Jack Hall, Macon, GA 34-34--68
Matt Robertson, Decatur, TN 35-34--69
Lance Goodson, Birmingham, AL 35-34--69
Ryan Cochran, Paducah, KY 36-33--69
James Nitties, Australia 34-35--69
Richard Moir, Australia 37-32--69
Trent Erb, Athens, GA 34-35--69
John Rattan, Montgomery Vill., MD 37-32--69
Russ Cox, Knoxville, TN 36-33--69
Adam Meyer, Fort Worth, TX 33-36--69