If one had to predict which of the last four holes at Niagara Falls country club cost Gavin Hall his only bogey of the day, number 15 would scarcely rate fourth. The 342-yard hole (barely 300 when played directly at the green) is often driven during competition and typically yields a number of birdies. Somehow, the Rochester native made 5 but still managed to take the day-one lead with a five-under 65. Much like Denny McCarthy in 2015, Hall seems like a young man on a mission, and that mission is to win the tournament in which he has shined since age 15.
Chasing the UTexas rising senior are a number of golfers at -2, including 2015 NYS junior champion and local favorite Ben Reichert. Reichert began the day with bogeys on holes 1 and 2, but bounced immediately back with birdies on 3 and 4. He added 2 more birdies and an eagle on the par-five 11th hole, offset those with two more bogeys to finish at 68 on the day. Tied with Reichert are Tyler Strafaci (freshman to be at Georgia Tech), Jake Shuman (rising junior at Duke), Will Long (rising senior at Auburn) and Gaston Bertinotti (rising senior at Campbell). Experience seemed to matter little on Wednesday, as the majority of those chasing Hall are competing in their first Porter Cup.
After his round, Jake Shuman engaged in a Twitterview (which may or may not be a term I’ve coined, mashing “Twitter” and “Interview” for a trendy item.)
Despite the three-stroke advantage, Hall knows that 54 challenging holes await. Much like a professional event, the tournament doesn’t truly begin until the final nine holes. Chasing Hall will be UTexas teammate Taylor Funk, Clemson freshman-to-be Doc Redman, Rochester’s Trevor Sluman, and Australian national team members Harrison Endycott and Travis Smyth.