Chase Carlson of Puyallup, Wash. shot a 6-under par 66 today at the 90th Washington State Men’s Amateur Championship to grab the first round lead. The championship is being held at historic Tacoma Country & Golf Club, which is fortunate for Carlson because it happens to be his home course, being a junior member at the club.
Carlson, 19, went to Puyallup Senior High School and will be a sophomore at Colorado Christian University, where he redshirted last year and is looking forward to competing with the team this coming year. “I leave for school this Friday (a day after the final round of the State Amateur),” he said. The small university’s men’s golf team will be trying for a third consecutive NCCAA National Championship title.
After seven holes, Carlson was even par, but then went on a tear of six birdies in a row, beginning with a birdie on the difficult 473-yard par-4 eighth hole. “I don’t think I’ve experienced that before,” he said. “I was completely in the moment, and just hit a shot at a time.” After a birdie on the par-5 16th hole, he was 7-under, but on the par-5 18th he hit a tree with his tee shot, then hit his third shot into a greenside bunker and ended up with bogey. In all, he carded eight birdies on the day.
Caddying for Carlson was John Dimmer, who is also a member here. “John is a good buddy of mine and he helped a lot,” Carlson said. “This is my best round at this course, and best round in a tournament. This will be the first time I’ve slept on a lead in the clubhouse during a tournament. I like playing under the radar; I don’t like the spotlight on me.” That may be difficult for Carlson, if he keeps playing this way.
This is the first time Carlson has played in the State Amateur, and he had to qualify just to get into this year’s championship, shooting a 1-under par 71 at the qualifier held a few weeks ago at The Home Course in DuPont, Wash.
Carlson is three shots clear of Michael Baldeck, Drew McCullough, Sam Warkentin and Nicholaus Mandell, who are tied for second after each shooting 3-under par 69s. Five players are tied for fifth place, at 2-under par.
Warkentin, who last week won his third consecutive WJGA State Championship, will be a freshman in the fall at the University of Washington. Mandell will be a senior at Washington State University. In last year’s championship, McCullough, of Richland, Wash. finished in the top-10. And Baldeck is a former standout at Clarkston (Wash.) High School.
Tee times for the second round will begin at 7:30 a.m. on Wednesday, August 10.