Scott Gump of Merritt Island, Fla., the medalist and semifinalist in this summer's U.S. Amateur golf tournament, made five birdies on his way to a 2-under-par 70 in the wind yesterday at Chartwell to take a two-stroke lead after the first round of the 72-hole Middle Atlantic Amateur.
Area golfers Joe Hoffman of Clinton, Jim Estes of Greenbelt and Wes Lacey of Columbia stayed close at 72.
Gump, 21, who recently graduated from the University of Miami, is eligible to play in next year's Masters by virtue of his U.S. Amateur showing, and is tuning up by playing in as many national tournaments as possible.
He made five birdies in the wind and his face had a weathered look when he finished.
"It was brutal out there. When I got up this morning, I said to myself if I shoot 74, I would be pleased," Gump said. "I always notice the wind, but I try to pay as little attention to it as possible. When you mis-hit a shot, that's when the wind magnifies it," Gump said.
Estes, the 1985 Maryland Amateur winner who plays out of Bethesda Country Club, was helped by his normal low shots that were less affected by the breezes.
Hoffman, a junior at the University of Maryland, where he plays on the golf team, opened with three straight birdies and shot the front nine in 34. Lacey, who plays out of Hobbit's Glen, took the first of three bogeys on his opening hole but offset that with three birdies.
Next at 73 were Paul Hiskey of Washington Golf and Country Club and Dick Bowen of Evergreen. The course was set up at only 6,200 yards -- the shortest it will play in the four rounds -- but the wind, which gusted at more than 30 mph, made conditions difficult.
"In walking through the tree-lined fairways, you can't tell where the wind is coming from," said Gary Moore of Crofton, who shot 77. "It's really difficult to tell how the wind is going to affect you. It makes it difficult. I never felt like the wind was with me or against me; it ws always coming at a slant."
"That's about the hardest the wind has blown lately, and it picks this time to do it," lamented former Maryland and Metropolitan amateur champion Buddy Peoples, whose 78 included four three-putt greens and no birdies.
For today's second round, the tees are set farther back, but the wind is not expected to be as severe.