Women’s Scoring

Men’s Scoring

By Alex Podlogar

As Kaitlyn Schroeder lined up her putt from about 35 feet behind the hole location on the 18th hole of Pinehurst No. 2, the opportunities for distractions were myriad.

To her left, a construction truck was moving in reverse behind where the stadium-sized scoreboard for the U.S. Open had stood two weeks ago, its scaffolding in various forms of dismantling. A hollow pipe was dropped, connecting with another already on the ground to emit a loud ping, mixing inharmoniously with the beeping from the reversing truck. In the distance beyond the pin, a forklift carrying an air conditioning unit rattled by the front of the 18th tee. To her right, the massive spectator grandstand has noticeably been reduced by about half, and work continued behind it to clear stairways and other structures that had entertained the more than 225,000 fans who attended the 2024 U.S. Open, which began here only 12 days ago.

Folks enjoying lunch murmured on the veranda behind Schroeder as she swayed her putter back and forth, back and forth, her head up and eyes reading the line. As she addressed her ball, the sounds surrounding her didn’t discriminate. There’s work to be done. Rome wasn’t deconstructed in a day.

Moments later, as the putt dropped for birdie and murmurs gave way to a shout here, cheering there and clapping throughout, Schroeder capped a brilliant 3-under 69 for one of the best early scores in the 122nd North & South Women’s Amateur on Tuesday.

“That,” Schroeder said after her birdie, “was really, really cool.”

There have been only a smattering of rounds played on No. 2 in the few days since Bryson DeChambeau’s triumph and Rory McIlroy’s heartbreak were etched into history here. Tuesday’s first round on No. 2 featured many of the best women amateur players in the world. A short shuttle ride away, the men were playing their first round of the 124th North & South Men’s Amateur on Pinehurst No. 8 as both championships are being played concurrently this same week. After the fields switch courses for a second round of stroke play on Wednesday, the championships will shift to match play on No. 2, and both the men’s and women’s champions will earn their coveted Putter Boy trophies on Saturday afternoon when the final matches are played in back-to-back tee times.

Only the North & South Amateur could one-up the U.S. Opens in 2014, when the USGA staged the men’s and women’s national championships on consecutive weeks. And where was that done?

You know the answer.

What you might not know – and what a handful of these players actually do know, those who have qualified and played in U.S. Opens before – is what it is like to play a round on a venerable course with grandstands still framing many of the holes.

“It’s pretty cool to have the grandstands out there and to see them,” said Avery McCrery, who carded two eagles on her way to a 4-under 68 to share the lead with Scarlett Schremmer after the first round. “There are some distractions – people might be yelling in the background – but you just need to tune it out and keep your focus, which is what I tried to do.”

Clearly. McCrery fired second-shot approaches into the par-5 5th and 10th holes to 6 and 4 feet, respectively, dropping both putts to offset a double bogey on the 6th and a bogey on the par-5 8th.

“I was totally not trying to do that,” McCrery said her darts on 5 and 10. “I was not trying to go for either of those pins because they were very difficult today. But, you know, that’s what ended up happening.”

It indeed was a softer, gentler Pinehurst No. 2 than what was broadcast to the world less than two weeks ago. Fairways continue to brown out as Pinehurst has not experienced significant rainfall since the Sunday before the first U.S. Open practice round on June 10. But the greens were certainly more receptive than they were, and green surrounds were a bit easier for players to navigate.

“I watched a lot of Sunday’s final round on TV, and I felt like I saw a lot of players going to the putter from off the greens,” said Chloe Johnson, who had a 1-under 71. “I was able to do fairly well getting up-and-down.”

In all, 17 players finished the day under par, looking ahead to making the top 32 for match play as they turn their sights to No. 8.

That’s where the men opened their championship, and from where many who completed their morning rounds eventually made their way out to No. 2 in the afternoon to scout hole locations and follow the afternoon groups. As play for the day was ending, 40 players still remained under par after playing No. 8, setting the stage for potential chaos during Wednesday’s round on No. 2.

Leading all of them was Parker Bell, who will be able to tell everyone on Wednesday just how different – or similar – No. 2 played two weeks ago. A qualifier for the U.S. Open, the Florida junior shot rounds of 77-70 and missed the cut on No. 2. But No. 8 was much more forgiving, and with five birdies on the back nine, a 6-under 65 was good enough for the 2023 U.S. Amateur semifinalist to lead the field by two shots.

“When we played (No. 8 in a practice round) two days ago, you could hit a lot of irons off the tee and still have wedges in, or if you wanted to hit driver up by the green, you could,” Bell said. “I just knew there were a lot of birdie opportunities out there and tried to stay patient.”

Local favorite and North & South Amateur veteran Jackson Van Paris was impressive in his first round, shooting a 2-under 69 to put himself in position to reach match play. He is tied for 11th.