Aussie Richardson starts well at Players

Kalem Richardson fired an opening round of 4-under-par, 68, to be in 2nd position and a stroke behind current leader, Georgia Tech golfer James White, at the Players Amateur in Bluffton, South Carolina.

Richardson last week at the Dogwood Invitational secured his first top-20 finish in a main US tournament and has brought his recent fine run of form to the Belfair West Course this week, in an opening round where the majority of the 80 strong field struggled to break par.

"The course is playing very tough out there," remarked Richardson this evening.

"The main reason being the greens, which are extremely firm and fast. I was lucky enough to roll the ball really well today holing a few massive putts in the first 9 holes. The course is great. I don't think there is going to be any real low scores at all this week, so I'm happy to put a good score on the board early and keep working away at it over the next few days."

This is Richardson's first main US tour and with a sold result already with the Dogwood, the Tasmanian's confidence with each round his plays continues to climb.

"Last week playing the Dogwood gave me a load of confidence," he says.

"Just holing some putts in the last round and striking the ball the way I was visualising in these events is a real buzz. It was a great week to get the feel for the level of competition out here, that was for sure and I've taken so much away from the experience."

Richardson could not have asked for a better start in the Players Amateur and he remains coy about his strategy over the remaining rounds and how he'll cope should he be in contention on Sunday.

"With today's opening round of 4-under obviously reflects that last week has carried on through for me," says Richardson.

"My confidence is really good at the moment. I have a few self-talk strategies in place when I'm feeling unsure on a shot, which is helping my game management and the scores are showing this. Lets just see how things go over the next two rounds and then I'll look at Sunday."

Bryden Macpherson, fresh from a tied 3rd place finish at last week's Dogwood, Kevin Tway of Oklahoma State and Brooks Koepka of Florida State, are tied for 4th position following an opening rounds of 70, three behind leader James White and a stroke behind Justin Thomas who opened with a 69 to be in 3rd position.

"My opening round was really solid," said Macpherson, 19.

"I putted really well out there. I'm hoping to stay in about 3rd place or thereabouts going into the weekend. That's where I feel most comfortable."

Macpherson is presently based at the University of Georgia where the dual 2009 Australian and New Zealand Amateur Stroke champion has played an integral part of the college's golf team since he joined the college in January. His game continues to be on the way up and last week at the Dogwood, Macpherson carded rounds of 72-69-64-68 to finish at 15-under-par and 3rd place, four strokes behind eventual winner, American, Andrew Yun.

"My game is in good shape at present," he says.

"I think that biggest difference now is my belief in what I can achieve out there on the course. After last week, I truly believe now I can compete. And who knows, maybe win and event out here!"

An eleven strong Australian contingent is contesting the Players Amateur this week in South Carolina, one of the largest Aussie contingents for the tournament in recent years.

Jordan Sherratt, winner of the Master of the Amateurs last January in Melbourne, opened with a 1-under-par,71, to be in a share of 7th position along with Mitch Krywulycz to be the next best placed Aussies behind Richardson and Macpherson.

Krywulycz recently finished in a tie for second at the Southeastern Amateur at the Country Club of Columbus in Georgia a few week's back and was instrumental with Augusta State team winning their first NCAA Championship title earlier in the month over collegiate golf powerhouse, Oklahoma State, at The Honors Course in Ooltewah, Tennessee.

Tim Hart and Jason Scrivener find themselves in a tie for 25th position after opening with a 2-over-par 74. Brendan Smith opened with a 75 to be in 40th position, along with Ryan McCarthy and Kieran Pratt.

Luke Bleumink and Daniel Beckmann will need to make their respective moves over the next two rounds to make Sunday's cut mark, with Bleumink firing an opening round of 4-over-par, 76, to be in a tie for 49th position and Beckmann with a 7-over-par, 79, to be well down the leader board in a tie for 65th position.

Defending champion and the highest ranked world amateur at The Players Amateur, Bud Cauley, fired a 2-over-par, 74, to be currently in a tie for 25th position and seven behind the leader.

The cut will come in at the top 48 plus ties following Saturday's 3rd round and The 2010 Players Amateur winner receives an exemption into the PGA Tour Verizon Heritage, which is played at Hilton Head's Harbour Town Links.

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