Coming off the biggest week of his career, Clemson golfer Corbin Mills wasn't even sure he had a game plan going into this week's 12th annual Players Amateur at Belfair Golf Club.
Maybe he doesn't need one.
Less than a week removed from winning the U.S. Amateur Public Links title in Bandon, Ore., Mills made eight birdies en route to a 5-under-par 67 on Belfair's West Course in Thursday's opening round, giving him a one-shot lead over Australian Kalem Richardson and Northwestern's Eric Chun.
As evidenced by his romp last week in Oregon, where he was the stroke play medalist before rolling through six matches in four days, Mills has been playing the best golf of his life. His sometimes balky putter has been especially dependable.
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But after last week's marathon, he wasn't sure how to approach things at Belfair.
"I've had trouble trying to come up with a game plan," he said. "I talked to our sports psychologist back at (Clemson) some yesterday, and he just told me to embrace it and go have fun."
That was easy enough to do Thursday. He has his younger brother, Parker, caddying for him, and he started with four birdies in his first seven holes. Even after a three-putt double bogey at No. 8 and a bogey at No. 9, he kept his cool and rebounded with four birdies on the back nine.
Mills has plenty of company on the leaderboard, though.
Richardson and Chun are one shot back, and a group of six players including NCAA individual champion John Peterson of LSU sits two shots back.
In all, 28 players carded rounds under par.
Richardson and Chun also had their putters working well. Richardson made five birdies on the front nine before giving one shot back on the back. And Chun closed with a 20-foot birdie putt at No. 18, the last of several lengthy putts with a new putter he added to the bag in the middle of Wednesday's practice round.
The easy-going approach that served Mills so well also worked for Alabama's Hunter Hamrick, who is among the group at 3 under. Hamrick is playing his first tournament of the summer after recovering from mononucleosis and a broken thumb suffered two weeks ago.
The down time forced him to take a more cautious approach, and it paid off in a relatively clean round with four birdies and only one bogey.
"I'm just kind of easing my way around the course," Hamrick said. "Your expectations are a hair lower and you're just trying to play smart golf because you know you're not real sharp. I'm not hitting it as well as I could if I had been able to practice more, but I think I thought well and didn't make many mistakes."
If Mills keeps up the torrid pace he has set for the past two weeks, though, conservative play might not cut it. Someone will have to chase him down, or else hope he falters somewhere along the way.
"I can only get myself in trouble mentally, really," Mills said. "That's my biggest problem. As long as I stay laid-back, I can just let everything else happen and we'll add them all up at the end of the week."
PLAYERS AMATEUR SCORES
Thursday, at Belfair Golf Club, West Course; Par: 72; Yardage: 7,080
Corbin Mills 67
Eric Chun 68
Kalem Richardson 68
Hunter Hamrick 69
Trey Delgreco 69
Cameron Smith 69
Max Homa 69
John Peterson 69
Todd Sinnott 69
Bank Vongvanij 70
Kramer Hickok 70
Matt Nagy 70
Matthew Stieger 70
Bo Andrews 70
Matthew Nesmith 70
Blayne Barber 71
Austin Reeves 71
Conrad Shindler 71
Chris Lane II 71
Jordan Russell 71
Jeffrey Kang 71
James White 71
Curtis Thompson 71
Michael Cromie 71
Nathan Holman 71
Ryan McCarthy 71
Todd White 71
Brant Peaper 71
Brooks Koepka 72
Ethan Tracy 72
Patrick Rodgers 72
Dominic Bozzelli 72
Wesley Bryan 73
Michael McGowan 73
Michael Hebert 73
Anthony Paolucci 73
Jack Fields 73
Crawford Reeves 73
Andrew Yun 73
Byeong-Hun An 73
Max Scodro 73
Scott Strohmeyer 74
Brett Drewitt 74
Brinson Paolini 74
Conrad Ray 74
Tommy Mou 74
Cameron Peck 74
Jon Pannone 74
Julio Vegas 74
Richy Werenski 74
Tim Hart 74
Justin Thomas 74
Harold Varner 75
Brett Patterson 75
Case Cochran 75
T.J. Mitchell 75
David Erdy 75
Cody Proveaux 75
Cory Whitsett 75
Coley Davis 75
Ben Campbell 76
Drew Czuchry 76
James Rim 77
John Voetsch 78
Drew Ernst 78
Brad Gehl 78
Chase Parker 78
Franklin Dolan 79
Tucker Wadkins 79
Patrick Grimes 79
Tarquin Macmanus 82
Morgan Hill 82
Derek Chang 83
Michael Johnson 83
Rick LaRose 84
PLAYERS AMATEUR TEE TIMES
Tee times for today's second round of the Players Amateur at Belfair Golf Club's West Course:
7:00 a.m.: Todd White, Moore; Rick LaRose, Tucson, Ariz.
7:10 a.m.: Ethan Tracy, Hillard, Ohio; Jeffrey Kang, Southern California
7:20 a.m.: David Erdy, Indiana University; Curtis Thompson, LSU
7:30 a.m.: John Voetsch, New Vernon, N.J.; Trey Delgreco, Vanderbilt University
7:40 a.m.: Blayne Barber, Lake City, Fla.; James White, Georgia Tech
7:50 a.m.: Matthew Stieger, Narrabri, Australia; Ben Campbell, Masterton, New Zealand
8:00 a.m.: Corbin Mills, Clemson University; Andrew Yun, Chandler, Ariz.
8:10 a.m.: Brooks Koepka, Florida State University; Byeong-Hun An, Seoul, Korea
8:20 a.m.: Cameron Peck, Olympia, Wash.; Kalem Richardson, Launceston, Australia
8:30 a.m.: Conrad Shindler, Texas A&M; Anthony Paolucci, Rancho Santa Fe, Calif.
8:40 a.m.: Tucker Wadkins, Dallas, Texas; Jon Pannone, Bluffton
8:50 a.m.: Franklin Dolan, Wake Forest University; Nathan Holman, Melbourne, Australia
9:00 a.m.: Brinson Paolini, Duke University; Michael Hebert, Auburn University
9:10 a.m.: James Rim, University of Toronto; Bo Andrews, Georgia Tech
9:20 a.m.: Drew Czuchry, Auburn, Ga.; Michael McGowan, UNC-Chapel Hill
9:30 a.m.: Case Cochran, Texas A&M; Chris Lane II, USC Beaufort
9:40 a.m.: Brett Patterson, Middle Tennessee State; Chase Parker, University of Kentucky
9:50 a.m.: Austin Reeves, Furman University; Brant Peaper, Indiana University
10:00 a.m.: Dominic Bozzelli, Auburn University; Max Scodro, University of Notre Dame; Todd Sinnott, Essendon, Australia
10:20 a.m.: Conrad Ray, Stanford; Cody Proveaux, Leesville
10:30 a.m.: Cameron Smith, Brisbane, Australia; Justin Thomas, Goshen, Ky.
10:40 a.m.: Julio Vegas, Maturin, Venezuela; Scott Strohmeyer, Santa Rosa Beach, Fla.
10:50 a.m.: John Peterson, Ft. Worth, Texas; Bank Vongvanij, University of Florida
11:00 a.m.: Max Homa, University of California; Tim Hart, Brisbane, Australia
11:10 a.m.: Jack Fields, Southern Pines, N.C.; Ryan McCarthy, Burnie, Australia
11:20 a.m.: Tarquin Macmanus, Cairns, Australia; Patrick Rodgers, Avon, Ind.
11:30 a.m.: Crawford Reeves, Clemson University; Harold Varner, Gastonia, N.C.
11:40 a.m.: Hunter Hamrick, Univeristy of Alabama; Richy Werenski, Georgia Tech
11:50 a.m.: Cory Whitsett, Houston, Texas; Jordan Russell, Texas A&M
Noon: Brett Drewitt, Inverell, Australia; Wesley Bryan, Chapin
12:10 p.m.: Patrick Grimes, Palo Alton, Calif.; Coley Davis, Bluffton
12:20 p.m.: Eric Chun, Northwestern University; Tommy Mou, Bradenton, Fla.
12:30 p.m.: Brad Gehl, Oklahoma State University; Michael Cromie, University of Georgia
12:40 p.m.: Morgan Hill, Florida Atlantic University; Michael Johnson, Hoover, Ala.
12:50 p.m.: Matthew Nesmith, North Augusta; T.J. Mitchell, University of Georgia
1:00 p.m.: Derek Chang, Augusta State University; Matt Nagy, Kennesaw State University
1:10 p.m.: Drew Ernst, Seneca; Kramer Hickok, University of Texas