For the better part of three hours, the procession of long, wind-battered faces cast serious doubt over whether anyone might break par in Saturday's opening round of the Sea Pines Junior Heritage.
When someone finally did, he did it with some zing.
Bluffton's Shiso Go, one of a handful of IJGA students in the field, carded four birdies on the way to a 3-under-par 69 at Heron Point, surprised to find himself with a three-shot cushion as the tournament shifts to Harbour Town for its final day.
"There was no rain in the morning, so I thought some players might shoot a couple under (par)," said the Japanese teen. "I was definitely surprised."
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J.J. Gresco of Scottsdale, Ariz., was the only player to match par, nudging to the front of a logjam that found 11 players bunched within two shots of each other. That cluster included Bluffton's Alec Weary (73) and Arjun Puri (74), along with Hilton Head Island's Andrew Orischak (74).
Charlotte's Madison Moosa grabbed the girls' lead right from the start, posting a 73 and watching no one come within three shots. She actually led by five most of the day until Hilton Head Island's Hanna Kiefer and Lexington's Gracyn Burgess carded 76s near the end.
"I hit every fairway, so that definitely helped a lot," said Moosa, who chipped in for her only birdie but also had just two bogeys on her scorecard. "I've been building a lot of confidence the last couple of months in my game, and today it just kind of all came together."
Golfers dealt with blustery winds and temperatures that barely crossed 50 degrees all day, with rain showers adding to the equation for the latter half of the 84-player field. Saturday's scoring averages were 77.69 for the boys and an astounding 84.44 for the girls.
Nearly one-third of the boys and two-thirds of the girls could not break 80 on the Pete Dye layout.
"The elements were tough with all the wind and water out there," Burgess said. "This course is a tough course and you've got to be able to hit it straight."
A quality short game certainly helps as well. Despite struggling with his iron play, Go managed to go bogey-free for his final 16 holes after an early stumble. He carded two birdies on each side, capped by a 30-foot putt at the par-4 14th.
Go already has won recently at Harbour Town, capturing the IJGA Invitational in a seven-shot romp in mid-December. The Junior Heritage would raise his stature even more.
"I just try to do my best," he said. "Focus on each shot and maybe make a couple of birdies."
Gresco typically spends Super Bowl weekend at his hometown PGA Tour event, one of some 20,000 who pack the raucous arena built around the 16th hole at the Waste Management Phoenix Open. He said this is the first time in five years he's missed the carnival.
"Yeah, I definitely don't want to not be there and not have a fun time here," said Gresco, whose round featured just one birdie and one bogey.
Weary found himself 2-over through his first seven holes, finally turning the tide with back-to-back birdies at Nos. 17 and 18 before playing his back nine in 1-over. That left him in a four-way tie for third with Georgia entrants Spencer Ralston and Chandler Eaton, along with Patrick Golden of Murrells Inlet.
Puri's six birdies were the most of anyone on Saturday, stringing together three in a row once on each side. But an up-and-down day also included a run of three straight bogeys, plus a pair of double bogeys.
"It was a mixed round," he said.
Orischak, seeking an elusive Junior Heritage title after losing a playoff last year and finishing one shot out of the 2014 playoff, also endured a roller-coaster day. Struggling to harness his driver, he carded five birdies but countered with five bogeys and a double.
"That's not typical for me at all," said Orischak, runner-up at last summer's U.S. Junior Amateur. "It's actually a little encouraging because I was making a lot of birdies and not hitting it as well. I usually drive the ball straighter and that allows me to not make as many big numbers. We'll try to improve on it."