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Amateurs hold their own on Day 1 at Merion

Golf Talk Central
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ARDMORE, Pa. – For the second year in a row, an amateur found himself at the top of the leaderboard at the U.S. Open.

This time, it was Cheng-Tsung Pan, a rising junior at Washington, who briefly held a share of the lead at 2 under before posting a 2-over 72 in his opening round at Merion.

Last year, of course, Beau Hossler, then 17, briefly held the lead during the third round of last year’s Open at Olympic Club, only to fade over the final day and a half.

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The best score Thursday among the amateurs who finished their first round was Kevin Phelan, who recently completed his college career at North Florida. The Irishman, who also qualified for the 2010 U.S. Open at Pebble Beach, where he missed the cut, carded two late bogeys to shoot 71.

“I learned more in that week than the rest of my golfing career combined,” Phelan said of his first Open appearance. “It was a huge help today when I just wanted to stay patient. When I made a couple of mistakes, my experience of Pebble served me well. I went back to experience.”

Pan was a shot behind Phelan, and Michael Kim, a rising junior at Cal and the top-ranked player in college golf during the 2012-13 season, who made four birdies, five bogeys and a double in his round of 73.

“I didn’t really feel too nervous out there, other than maybe a couple of moments,” Kim said. “I just tried to have fun and try not to expect too much. I felt pretty good the entire day.”

No. 1-ranked amateur Chris Williams, NCAA champion Max Homa and reigning U.S. Amateur winner Steven Fox were among the players who would not finish their first rounds on Thursday.