The Golden Isles Invitational was greeted Thursday by the hot July sun, which cooked golfers at 93 degrees by the time the final group teed off at Brunswick Country Club.
The lack of a breeze perhaps made the rounds grueling and the cold beverages more refreshing, but it also made for a good day to score low.
Trevor Smith led the field at 7-under 65 after the first round. Smith shot 5-under on the front nine, and his lone regret in the round was a bogey on par-4 No. 10 to start the back nine. He played the remaining five holes at 3-under, making birdie on Nos. 12, 14 and 18.
Smith said his putting carried him on Thursday, along with his ability to, as he modestly put it, avoid anything “obscenely stupid.”
“The way the course is, it’s pretty wide open so you can hit driver almost anywhere and be fine,” Smith said. “I made a lot of crucial putts today. … I got away with a lot of stuff today. It was just a day that really worked out for me.”
Smith said he seemed to put himself in position for makable putts, even when he didn’t like his approach, initially. On par-5 No. 14, he chipped on short of the cup looking at an uphill putt. When he approached his ball, he read a fairly simple put for birdie and converted.
Smith said he was able to put through some pin positions he considered difficult for Day 1 of the tournament, so he’s optimistic he can continue to score well Friday when they’ll be repositioned.
“I’m sure that was to set the tone for the week,” Smith said.
Smith is a former College of Coastal Georgia golfer. He posted two top five finishes during his sophomore season with the Mariners, a seventh place finish at the Southern States Athletic Conference Tournament his junior season and second at the Sand Shark Classic during his senior campaign.
Trailing him by one stroke was former teammate and Brunswick native Paxton Shuman at 6-under 66, tied with Dan McManus. Seven competitors remained well within striking distance at 5-under 67, four at 4-under 68 and two at 3-under 69.
Leading the Senior Division was Toshi Hirata at 5-under 67. He led Hal Johnson (3-under 69) by two strokes and the three-way tie fro third between Bob Young, Steve Melnyk and Joel Willis (2-under 70).
Play will resume Friday with the same tee times as Thursday. For Saturday’s round, golfers will be split up into separate flights based on ranking and division.