Scott Langley, the first alum of The First Tee program to earn a PGA TOUR card, took the first-round lead at the Sony Open in Hawaii in his debut as a TOUR member.
Langley made six birdies and an eagle in his bogey-free opening-round 62 that left him one shot ahead of fellow rookie and Thursday playing competitor Russell Henley.
Scott Piercy and Tim Clark are another shot back at 6 under whole Jeff Overton and Stephen Ames round out the top 5 at 5 under.
It was the rookies stealing the show, however.
A total of 23 PGA TOUR rookies teed it up at the Sony Open and three are currently inside the top 10 -- Morgan Hoffmann is T7 at 4 under.
Langley, who won the 2010 NCAA title while at Illinois, has made the cut in four of the six events he's previously played on the PGA TOUR, including two top-30 finishes at the U.S. Open.
He opened the day with three birdies on his first four holes then added an eagle on No. 9 to make the turn in 5-under 30. Langley added birdies on Nos. 10 and 16 before breaking a tie with Henley on the 18th with a 6-foot birdie conversion to take the overnight lead.
Henley, who said he was just trying to keep pace with Langley, birdied eight holes but had a bogey on the par-3 11th in his first event as a TOUR member. Henley won two of his last four events on the Web.com Tour in 2012, including the Winn-Dixie Jacksonville Open at TPC Sawgrass, to secure his 2013 TOUR card.
Langley and Henley will tee off their second round with Luke Guthrie (+1) at 8:30 a.m. local/1:30 p.m. ET Friday.
Stricker, the two-time defending champion, said Illini Day should give him a boost, but admitted that that the support might also put pressure on him.
"You know, it can work both ways," he said. "If you're going well, you know, you can really ride that momentum. If you're playing poorly, you know, you feel like you're dragging everybody down with you. So it's hard. You want to play well and there's that little extra bit of pressure, but it's good to have that support."
Stricker also said Wednesday at the John Deere Classic that he will not be putting Titleist's new irons in play this week.
"I hit them and I really liked them, but I want to hit them some more at home, so probably after the British I'll give them some more time to hit," he said.
The recent NCAA champion and the man who won the Fred Haskins Award earlier this week will battle for low amateur honors at Pebble Beach.
Illinois’ Scott Langley, who won the individual NCAA crown, has the edge at 2 over and in a tie for 13th. He fired a 69 on Friday and moved 53 spots on the leaderboard.
Georgia’s Russell Henley is 5 over for the tournament and tied for 39th. He shot a 74 in the second round.
“Low am obviously would be cool,” Langley said. “I’ve got two more rounds to go. Russell’s playing great so we’re going to have a fun battle for it. I’m just going to go out and try and play my best this weekend.”
Langley, who teamed with Dana Quigley to win the Home Care and Hospice First Tee Open at Pebble Beach in 2006, said he has embraced the challenge this week.,
“I think it’s fun playing in front of crowds like this and people are cheering for you,” Langley said. “I think it helps having people give you words of encouragement at every hole, almost. I had a blast today.
“I’m just going to try and keep having fun this weekend. Obviously the course is difficult, but that’s the way it’s supposed to be, and I’m looking forward to tackling it the next couple of days.” – Helen Ross
Scott Langley, who recently won the individual title at the NCAA Championship, is going to play the weekend at his first U.S. Open.
The 21-year-old amateur from the University of Illinois shot a 69 on Friday that left him in a logjam at 2 over for the tournament – which is just five shots off the lead. Langley has been extremely accurate off the tee this week, hitting all but five fairways in the first two rounds, and 22 of 36 greens in regulation.
Langley should have a comfort zone at Pebble Beach. After all, he teamed with Dana Quigley to win what is now known as the Home Care and Hospice First Tee Open at Pebble Beach in 2006. – Helen Ross