Ellis shot a two-under par 68 to tie with three others for the lead with many in the field of more than 300 players still on the two courses at The Olympic Club in San Francisco.
Ellis played the Ocean Course today, as did the others tied for the lead at this point. He will play the Lakeside Course tomorrow, which is the more historic of the two courses and the site of past U.S. Amateurs and U.S. Opens.
It was a long day for the Rebel senior. But the amateur from Senatobia handled it like a pro.
"We had a four-hour fog delay," said Ellis, who redshirted at Ole Miss this past school year. "I was hitting balls on the range at 6:30 a.m. (Pacific Daylight Time) and could not see more than 12 feet in front of me. I was supposed to tee off at 7 a.m. but finally started at 11 a.m."
That's a long wait for a weather delay. This is the U.S. Amateur. Nerves were already a part of the equation for all participants. And then this.
Ellis admitted it was a little bit of an unsettling morning.
"I was anxious and ready to play while we waited," he said. "They would update us every 30 minutes. I would go to the car, and then to the locker room, and then to the putting green until finally they said we'd start at 11. So I went to the range to hit balls - for the third time."
Eliis, accompanied on the trip by his parents, Debra and Bill Ellis – his father being his caddy for the event, was pleased with his first round.
"I drove the ball straight which you have to do here because the rough is so deep," said Ellis, who qualified for the event earlier this month at The Reunion Golf and Country Club in Madison. "I had only one bogey, and that was on 16 when I hit it in the left rough. My round could have been better. I missed two birdie putts from about eight feet, but you aren't going to make them all."
Ellis, who played practice rounds on both courses over the weekend, recalled one particular moment that spurred him on through the round when things could have gone either way.
"I saved par at No. 9. My tee shot hit a tree and I had to punch a 4-iron and I got it on the green and two-putted for par. That kind of kept me going, turning nothing into something on that hole."
He had one birdie on the front for 34 and two birdies and the lone bogey on the back for 34. His tee time tomorrow is supposed to be at 12:15 PDT, but Ellis is certain that won't be when he begins round two. Because of the fog delay today, there are some players who teed off for their first round as late as 6:15 PDT this afternoon.
"I don't believe I will start until at least 2 or 2:30 at the earliest," Ellis said. "Right now I feel like I'm in good shape (to make it to the match play portion of the event which begins Wednesday). I just need to make as many birdies as I can. That's the name of the game right now."
Ellis shoots 68, tied for U.S. Amateur lead
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