Patrick Kelly battled through pink eye to lead the boys, and Delfina Acosta paced the girls’ field after the Orange Bowl’s first round.
Patrick Kelly of England had just finished his round in the Junior Orange Bowl International Classic at Biltmore Golf Course and could hardly muster up a smile even though his round of 6-under-par 65 was leading the tournament after the first day.
For Kelly, it was difficult to be elated. He felt extremely sick and knew that in a few minutes tournament director J.R. Steinbauer would be taking him to the emergency room just two miles away at Miami Children’s Hospital.
In recent days, Kelly has had an ever-increasing cold, pink eye (in his case, it was so severe it looked more like red eye if such a condition exists), and he was making his first trip to the United States and his family was back in England.
“My eyes hurt, and if I look to the side it really hurts,” he said. That was still the case even though he had been taking eye drops for many days back in England.
“I wasn’t expecting at all to be leading,” he said of the tournament. In fact, he almost didn’t play Thursday.
“Honestly, I wasn’t going to go out there,” he said. “I was just going to give it a miss, but then I thought it was too far to come to not play. I told myself, ‘Just play and see what happens.’ ”
And what happened was quite nice.
An eagle, by virtue of making a 15-foot chip-in on the first hole, improved his mood, if not his health. He added birdies on Nos. 5 and 6, and recorded a 31 on the front nine.
Even Kelly, 18, was surprised.
“I was just playing,” he said. “I was quite relaxed because I didn’t expect it. I had no expectations.”
On the back nine, he birdied Nos. 12 and 15, and finished with no bogeys for the round. That put him two strokes ahead of Matthew Marquez of Trinidad and Jonah Texeira of Northridge, Calif., who both posted 4-under 67s.
“I am happy, but I am not feeling well,” Kelly summed up. “Really, I’ve just been sleeping a lot when I’m not playing golf.”
Will he play Friday?
“I will not drop out,” said Kelly, who was released from the hospital on Thursday night.
In the girls’ portion of the tournament, Delfina Acosta of Argentina made an up-and-down birdie on the par-5 18th by chipping over a hill and onto the green and making a 12-foot putt to take a one-shot lead over Megan Khang of Rockland, Mass. Acosta shot 3-under 68, and Khang bogeyed the 18th for a 69.
Acosta, who said she has made recent corrections in her swing rhythm and putting, said, “I am very happy.”
Junior OB leaders
Boys: 1. Patrick Kelly, England, 65 (-6); 2. Matthew Marquez, Trinidad, 67 (-4); Jonah Texeira, Northridge, Calif., 67 (-4); 4. Robin Goger, Austria, 68 (-3); Jose Montana, Bolivia (68) -3; Corey Pereira, Cameron Park, Calif., 68 (-3); Hayden Porteous, South Africa, 68 (-3); Phillipe Schwerzer, Switzerland, 68 (-3); Alejandro Tosti, Argentina, 68 (-3). Girls: 1. Delfina Acosta, Argentina, 68 (-3); 2. Megan Khang, Rockland, Mass., 69 (-2); Franziska Friedrich, Germany, 71 (even); 4. Nicole Morales, South Salem, N.Y., 72 (+1); Rachel Rossel, Switzerland, 72 (+1); Maria Serrano Silva, Colombia, 72 (+1).