Nick Dunlap’s 8 Birdies Cards a First-Round 64 and the Lead at the 45th Boys Junior PGA Championship
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Nick Dunlap is fresh off a win at the Polo Junior Golf Classic, while Matthew Troutman has memories of Kearney Hill Golf Links as a 10-year old. Both are atop the leaderboard as one of golf’s major junior championships returned Monday with 30 players shooting below par in the first round at the 45th Boys Junior PGA Championship at Kearney Hill Golf Links.
Dunlap, 17 and from Huntsville, Alabama, birdied eight holes to secure the lowest first round at 7-under par 64. Troutman, also 17 and from Louisville, sits in second place having finished with a bogey-free 6-under 65.
“I got off to a good start,” Dunlap said. “I felt like I missed a pretty big putt on 10, birdied 11 and hit a great iron on 12. It just kick-started the round early. I took care of the par 5s today, which is always nice.”
Dunlap, who is No. 3 in the Rolex AJGA rankings and a University of Alabama commit, was just two shots away from the championship’s first-round record set in 2019 and three shots off Kearney Hill’s course record. He started his day on hole 10, rattling off birdies on Nos. 11, 12, 14 and 18.
“I had a really good putt on 17 that missed, had a good up and down on 18 to keep the momentum going. Had a good par save on one - made about a 6-footer for par - then hit an 8-iron that I thought went in but was 3 ½-4 feet away on two and hit one even closer on three. I gave myself a ton of opportunities on the back nine. Putts on 6 and 7 went in. It was just a solid, really solid back nine.”
Troutman was just as steady. He settled in with six birdies on the day, relying on a good short game.
“It wasn’t a conventional round for me,” Troutman said. “I kind of felt like Jordan Spieth out there. I normally hit a decent amount of fairways and hit a lot of greens. I struggled with the driver, but I got the putter going, and I was able to grab a couple from 20-30 feet. I was able to hole out from the bunker on 12 for birdie, which helped a lot. Besides my driver, I was just really sharp around the greens and with my irons.”
Troutman, who is coming off a fourth place finish at the Western Junior Championship on June 21, played bogey-free golf picking up a couple of birdies on the par 3s at Nos. 2, 8 and 12, par 4s Nos. 5 and 13 before finishing his round with a birdie on par 5 No. 18, which totalled 528 yards.
“It’s cool to be playing at this course,” he said. “I don’t play a lot here. I definitely remember playing when there’s been a high school event every year at this course. I remember playing local tour events at this course back when I was 10-years old. It’s pretty special to be playing a very high level event at a course that I’ve got memories from when I was younger, when I was just out there having a good time with my friends.”
Four players are tied for third including Wells Williams (33-34 67), a Vanderbilt University commit who secured two eagles on Nos. 7 and 14; Alabama commit Jonathan Griz of Hilton Head Island, South Carolina; John Wild of Glen Ellyn, Illinois, and University of Notre Dame commit Kevin O'Regan of Northbrook, Illinois.
Six players are tied for seventh at 3-under par, including Jacob Modleski of Noblesville, Indiana; Florida State University commit Luke Clanton of Miami Lakes, Florida, and Georgia Tech commit Aidan Tran of Fresno, California.
Matt Doyle, who’s making his first appearance in the Boys PGA Junior Championship despite battling a hip disorder known as Legg-Calve-Perthes disease, is tied for 18th after shooting one-under 70.
The Blue Grass Eight
Eight Kentucky natives are competing in the Boys Junior PGA Championship this week. Below are their first-round scores:
- Matthew Troutman, Louisville - 2 - 6-under-par 65
- Hayden Adams, Lexington - T18 -1-under par 70
- Cayden Pope, Lexington - T31 - Even par 71
- Zach Watterson, Richmond - T31 - Even par 71
- Rylan Wotherspoon, Florence - T47 - 1-over-par 72
- Luke Coyle, Campbellsville - T59- 2-over par 73
- Jackson Finney, Louisville - T59 - 2-over par 73
- Rocco Zakutney, Paducah - T92 - 5-over par 76
The 45th Boys Junior PGA Championship continues Tuesday at Kearney Hill Golf Links in Lexington. Second round action gets underway at 8 a.m.