Teen Hall's magical week ends on a high note
VERONA, N.Y. -- Age didn't seem to matter to Gavin Hall following a first-round 78 at the Turning Stone Resort Championship. Despite being only 15, the resident of nearby Pittsford had arrived at Atunyote Golf Club on such a roll that he simply expected to play better.
He proved he was up to the task in his second attempt.
Hall bounced back to fire a one-under 71 under windy conditions in Friday's second round. And while the amateur, playing in his first PGA Tour event on a sponsor's exemption, didn't make the cut, he proved he could hold his own, even finishing higher on the leader board than 10 other players through 36 holes.
"I think the back nine was a little taste of how I've been playing the last three or four weeks," said Hall, who shot a 34 on his final nine. "I'm glad I finished strong and had a respectable score."
Just two weeks ago, Hall set the U.S. Junior Amateur scoring record with a 62 at Egypt Valley Country Club in Ada, Mich. He lost in the quarterfinals to another New Yorker, eventual champion Jimmy Liu of Smithtown, but the lefty bounced back to win his local qualifier to earn a spot in the U.S. Amateur at Chambers Bay at the end of the month.
This week, he got a great learning experience by seeing some of the best players in the world up close. With his local connections, the sophomore-to-be also drew some of the biggest galleries in the first two rounds.
"I think controlling your emotions is what I took from (playing with the pros)," said Hall, who played with Cameron Tringale and Tim Wilkinson. "They're so even-keeled on the golf course. They don't get too high, they don't get too low. I think that's what you need and also putting good rounds together and they're just so consistent. ... You can only be a better player by watching them."
Hall showed plenty of cool himself. On his second to last hole, the par-5 eighth, he went way long and left of the green in two. After hitting a difficult pitch shot fat, he calmly walked to his ball, took a couple practice swings and hit a great chip that helped him save par.
With his supporters cheering wildly as he head to the next tee, Hall maintained total focus. He then smoked a 330-yard drive down the middle and hit a short-iron to six feet behind the pin on the 479-yard, par-4 ninth. Hall was unable to close with a birdie as he did in the first round, but he still walked away all smiles.
"Oh, I'm happy," he gushed when asked to assess his performance. "I had nothing to lose this week, no expectations and I think I beat a couple people."
-- Alex Myers