CARMEL, Calif. (Oct. 25, 2018) – Brian Blanchard’s day did not fall into the category of particularly stellar until his last three holes. Blanchard, the 26-year-old from Scottsdale, Ariz., was 2 under through the opening 15 holes of the Stocker Cup, and then suddenly he was 5 under. Blanchard made birdie on the par-4 seventh and followed it with an eagle at the par-5 eighth.
The crowd at 3 under is distinguished after one round at the Preserve Golf Club, and Blanchard effectively separated himself. Blanchard, a member at Mesa (Ariz.) Country Club, qualified for the U.S. Amateur at Pebble Beach earlier this summer but missed the match play cut. He had led after the first round of the Carlton Woods Invitational earlier in the year before finishing an eventual T-8. Blanchard, a software engineer for Workiva, is the quintessential amateur, having never turned professional and never wanting to.
The birdies were plentiful for Blanchard’s chasers, who are all at 3-under 69. Patrick Christovich, a four-time Louisiana Mid-Amateur champion, was 3 under after the first four holes, and kept it there. Kyle Hudelson, runner-up at the 2017 U.S. Amateur Four-Ball with partner Clark Collier, opened with a bogey on No. 10 but more than made up for it with six birdies on his round.
Josh Swanson shot 31 on his outward nine (he started on No. 10) thanks to three birdies and an eagle, then had three bogeys coming in. USGA veteran Jason Anthony, winner of the 2018 San Francisco City Amateur, also had an eagle in his round.
The two past champions in the field remain within striking distance. Joseph Deraney, the 2016 winner, had an uneventful round of even par and so did 2013 winner John Sawin. Each matched three birdies with three bogeys.
Much of the Stocker Cup’s unique vibe can be attributed to the team competition that runs simultaneously with the individual competition.
Blanchard and fellow Arizona native Daniel Licursi got it to 10 under when Licursi added three crucial birdies on the front nine. Licursi had an impressive 68 on his own ball that included only one bogey.
Anthony is tied for second alongside his father Jack Anthony. The father-son duo, who won the gross team title at 18 under in 2015, are tied with Daniel Buchner and Nicholas Bock at 7 under.
Richard Tuohey had a 73 on his own ball and got help in a few crucial spots from partner Brian Harris on their way to a 6-under 66. Perhaps most impressive, however, is another team tied for fourth at that number. Tony Thornley, a player who has seen his 70th birthday come and pass, had four birdies in a five-hole stretch on the back nine that carried him and partner Bobby Leopold to 66.
In the team Net division, Derek Meinhart and partner Alan Dunckel lead with an 11-under 61. Meinhart had a 70 on his own ball. Two familiar teams are close behind at 10 under: Harris and Tuohey and Blanchard and Licursi.