ST. AUGUSTINE, FL (October 13, 2017) – Michael Saccente (Edgewater, FL) shot a three-under 67 to take the first-round lead at the 14th St. Augustine Amateur at St. Johns Golf Club.
Saccente, a redshirt freshman at the University of North Florida, was in contention in every round last year and finished fourth at two-over 212. Today, he offset an early bogey with four birdies, including three in five holes from 13-17.
Only two other players broke par in the first round. Rasmey Kong (W. Palm Beach, FL) had a three birdie, one bogey 68. Cody Carroll (Jacksonville, FL), a North Florida commit, was three over through eight holes but had four birdies after that to finish at one-under 69.
Will Echelmeier (Columbia, MO), a recent graduate of the University of Missouri, shot an even-par 70 to sit tied for fourth with 16-year-old Sam Nicholson (Atlantic Beach, FL) and 15-year-old Gordon Brixi(Potomac, MD).
Brixi is no stranger to the leaderboard in big amateur events, having led the Middle Atlantic Amateur last month before finishing third.
Tied for seventh at one-over 71 are two players from Argentina, Mauro Antonio Baez and Juan Iturra; two players from Italy, Giulio Castagnara and Luigi Botta; and Matt Kleinrock of Jacksonville.
Once again tournament director Wes Tucker has developed a diverse field that has incorporated high school, college, mid-amateurs and even some golfers who are pushing 40.
In the 13 years since the tournament was created in 2014, players in the St. Augustine Amateur have gone on to enjoy success on the biggest stages in professional golf.
“It’s high-level amateur golf,” said Tucker to Will Brown of the St. Augustine Record. “It’s going to be people you see on your TV, potentially, in the next four to five years. We’ve had Ryder Cup (players). We’ve had PGA Tour winners and we’ve had European Tour winners play in the event. You get to see the future of the event up close and you get to interact with them. To experience some of these guys on the way up is a great thing.”
“Your past champions really validate your tournament,” Tucker said. “You have guys like Peter Uihleinwho won a Web.com event and has a (PGA) Tour card next year. You have Julian Suri, who has had wins in Europe and a European Tour card — the guy is pretty hot. Zach Sucher played on (the PGA) Tour for a couple of years.”
Round two of the 2017 St. Augustine Amateur will be played on Saturday with the final round on Sunday.