He was only four holes into his round Monday and already Tim Hume's name was circulating around the grounds at Oak Hill County Club.
Did you hear about the eagle Hume made on No. 2? Bounced it into the hole off the ball of his playing partner.
Hear about the 2-putt par he made on No. 4? But get this: his first putt came more than 300 yards from the green.
Hume, Western New York's top-ranked amateur, performed some memorable feats Monday in the first round of the U.S. Amateur.
But then again, his survival depended on it.
Plagued by an errant driver, Hume had to rely on his bold shot-making ability to carve out a respectable 5-over-par 75 on Oak Hill's demanding, rain-drenched, wind-whipped East Course.
Hume's score give him a reasonable chance to making the cut of 64 players advancing to match play following today's final medal round. Although there are some 80 golfers ahead of him, fewer than 40 of those played the long, tight East Course. Of the 30 scores of 70 or better, 24 were carded on the shorter, more forgiving West Course.
"This is as hard as it gets," said Hume, who plays out of the Park Club and Cherry Hill. "Hopefully it (the East) plays hard tomorrow."
Hume is one of three golfers with a Western New York connection in the tournament.
Paul Scarletta, a Niagara Falls native who has spent the last three years honing his game in Richmond, Va., shot a 73 on the East Course and has an excellent chance at advancing to match play.
Frank Broderick, the club champion at East Aurora Country Club, shot 77 on the East Course and probably will have to shoot par or better to move on.
Defending Amateur champion Matt Kuchar is in good shape after shooting a 71 on the West. Seven players tied for low score of the day at 68, with four of those coming on the West track.
Hume's day got off to a magical start. One of his playing partners, Eric Schreiber of West Palm Beach, Fla., dropped his approach on No. 2 just over the trap guarding the green's right side, with the ball releasing and stopping 8 inches from the hole. Hume's approach, a 9-iron from 137 yards, followed the same route, released, rolled 25 feet, deflected off Schreiber's ball and fell into the cup for an eagle 2.
But it quickly became clear that instead of serving as a launching pad, Hume's eagle was a safety net. Errant drives gave him blocked approaches to numerous greens, with the result a string of four bogeys in five holes. The one hole he didn't bogey in that stretch, the 570-yard, par-5 fourth, was a memorable par.
An errant tee shot left Hume with virtually an unplayable lie against a tree. He pulled out his putter and did well to knock the ball 15 yards, but still in the rough. He curled his next shot back into the fairway to within about 90 yards of the green, stuck a wedge and made the 2 1/2 -footer.
"It was big," Hume said. "Just keeping cool, making par."
The West Course offers more room to stray, but Hume will have to drive the ball straighter if he's going to make a move today.
"I'm just a little quick at the top," he said.
"It's just not trusting it and letting it cut, like (I did) on 18. I hit it perfect on the range. (But) you know, a little pressure. The Amateur and whatnot. I've just got to work it out."
While Hume rarely hit a fairway, Scarletta missed just two in his round. A former standout at LaSalle High School, Scarletta moved to Richmond with his sisters three years ago and made the golf team at Virginia Commonwealth as a walk-on. He shot a team-leading eight rounds of 70 or better this year and finished second in the Virginia State Open two weeks ago.
Scarletta learned the game at the Cataract Golf Club and still depends on the teaching of former Cataract ace Frank Garcia Sr. His caddie Monday was Brent Gadacz, the Western New York Class A Publinx champ out of Cataract.
"I'm happy to be here, but I also want to play well," Scarletta said. "I've really been playing well the last month and a half, two months."
A pair of double bogeys hurt Broderick's chances of advancing. The first came when he found Allen's Creek on the 167-yard sixth hole.
"I'm not confident cutting the ball, and that shot called for it," Broderick said. "I hit it off the toe of the club and it went in the water. Other than that, I played well."
His other double bogey came on 440-yard No. 1, the start of his back nine. He pull-hooked a 4-iron approach, with the ball deflecting off a tree and into Allen's Creek fronting the green.
"I have no idea what happened there," Broderick said. "I one-putted to make 6."