Even though he’s only a high school senior, Austin Langdale knows the Country Club of Charleston golf course well. The 18-year-old Clemson signee from Townville played in last year’s Azalea Invitational amateur golf tournament and has played the course several years in the Beth Daniel Junior Azalea.
That familiarity paid dividends Thursday as Langdale overcame difficult weather conditions to shoot a 5-under-par 66, good for a three-shot lead over Brian Westveer of Charlotte, Danny Guise of Greenwich, Conn., Will Long of Gastonia, N.C., and Clark Palmer of Augusta in the 65th Azalea Invitational.
“It was tough,” Langdale said of the conditions which included chilly temperatures, brisk winds and slick putting surfaces. “But I like this golf course a lot. I’ve been hitting the ball well lately. I changed some stuff on my putting the last couple of days, and it was working.”
Langdale’s six birdies Thursday included short putts on the second and 12th holes, a two-putt birdie on the par-5 ninth, along with putts from 15 on the 18th and 25-30 feet on Nos. 7 and 11.
His only bogey came on the par-5 15th, where his drive rolled under the lip on a fairway bunker and he had to hack it out, leaving a 180-yard approach. He was unable to get that close and three-putted from 60 feet.
Westveer had three birdies and a lone bogey. Guise made four birdies and two bogeys. Long’s scorecard included four birdies, three bogeys and an eagle-3 on the par-5 fifth hole. Palmer birdied the first four holes of his round and had seven on the day, but also made three bogeys and a double bogey.
Michael Miller of Brewster, N.Y., the No. 8-ranked amateur in the world, was tied for sixth at 1-under 70 with Carolinas Golf Association player of the year Scott Harvey of Greensboro, N.C., Bo Andrews of Raleigh and Sherrill Britt of West End, N.C.
The tournament continues through Sunday, with the field cut to the low 60 and ties after Saturday’s round. Tee times today begin at 8 a.m. and continue until 2:10 p.m.
Steve Harwell of Mooresville, N.C., made a hole-in-one on the 164-yard 17th hole on his way to shooting a 74.
AZALEA INVITATIONAL LEADERS
Austin Langdale, Townville 33-33—66
Brian Westveer, Charlotte 35-34—69
Danny Guise, Greenwich, Conn. 37-32—69
Will Long, Gastonia, N.C. 35-34—69
Clark Palmer, Augusta 34-35—69
Bo Andrews, Raleigh 35-35—70
Scott Harvey, Greensboro, N.C. 35-35—70
Michael Miller, Brewster, N.Y. 37-33—70
Sherrill Britt, West End, N.C. 37-33—70
Matthew Crenshaw, Burlington, N.C. 36-35—71
David Kennedy, Savannah 33-38—71
Nick Biesecker, Staunton, Va. 35-37—72
John Wright, Aurora, Ill. 34-38—72
Michael Muscatell, Lake Wylie 35-37—72
Bryce Howell, Blythewood 36-36—72
Carson Young, Pendleton 35-37—72
John Engler, Augusta 37-36—73
Kevin Marsh, Henderson, Nev. 35-38—73
Jack Maguire, St. Petersburg, Fla. 37-36—73
Kristopher Gray, New Castle, England 41-32—73
Neil Henderson, Davenport, Fla. 38-35—73
Steve Harwell, Mooresville, N.C. 40-34—74
Brad Wilder, Fort Wright, Ky. 38-36—74
Matt Laydon, Charleston 39-35—74
Parker Derby, Columbus, Ga. 37-37—74
Cameron Champ, Sacramento, Calif. 35-39—74
James Fox, Dublin, Ireland 39-35—74