By Jay Skurski
At the top: University of Virginia sophomore Denny McCarthy, 19, shot a 6-under 64 to lead the 78-player field after the first round in the 54th Porter Cup at Niagara Falls Country Club in Lewiston. A shot behind tied for second are University of Florida senior Trever McCumber and Texas A&M sophomore Tyler Dunlap.
Featured group: Defending champion Patrick Rodgers didn't do anything to hurt his chance of repeating, opening with a round of 3-under 67. Rodgers had back-to-back bogeys on the par-3 16th and par-4 17th, but made a big birdie on the par-3 18th to close the round with some momentum. Justin Thomas, the top-ranked college golfer in the country according to the Golf Week rankings, was cruising along nicely at 3 under before hitting the ball out of bounds on the 16th. He took a double bogey and finished the round 1 under, the same score as the third member of the threesome, 18-year-old Matt NeSmith.
My bad: Scott Harvey, a 34-year-old Mid-Amateur from Greensboro, N.C., shot a 2-under 68, but it could have been better. Harvey was assessed a two-stroke penalty for playing the wrong ball on the par-4 10th hole. The ball Harvey hit was a Titleist 2, like he was playing it, but after he hit it, he found his ball and saw its distinctive mark, meaning he played the wrong one.
Gotta go: The oldest player in the field, 49-year-old Mike McCoy, recorded a nice 4-under 66 as part of the third group off the tee. The reason for the early tee time? McCoy, who works in the insurance industry, had to get to a business meeting in Toronto. He talked with this reporter while waiting in line on the bridge to Canada.
Locals report: Niagara Falls Country Club club champion Mike Boss was the low Western New Yorker with a 3-over round of 73. Buffalo's Chris Covelli and Clarence's Matt Stasiak both shot rounds of 4-over 74, tied for 70th, while North Tonawanda's James Blackwell and Hamburg's Brian Jurkiewicz carded 5-over 75s, in a tie for 75th.
Quotable: "You’re dealing with a lot as a Mid-Am. You’re married, you have a family, you’re working. You feel like you should just get a medal for being here for five days in a row," 33-year-old Nathan Smith, on how tough it is for the older players to compete against college-age opponents.
Follow me on Twitter, @JaySkurski, for updates from Round Two on Thursday.
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