Local product Joe Highsmith, a sophomore at Bellarmine Prep High School, shot a 76 on Tuesday in the first round of the American College Development Services and Ryan Moore Golf Championship at the RMG Club at Oakbrook Golf Course in Lakewood.
Highsmith struggled on the back nine and finished at 6 over.
The tournament is part of the American Junior Golf Association, and 24 girls and 72 boys competed on a warm, sunny afternoon.
After round one, Mason Anderson from Gilbert, Arizona, was tied with Chris Mogg of Sammamish for the lead in the boys group after both fired 2-under 68s.
“The first 11 holes were all good,” Highsmith said. “The last seven holes gave me some trouble.”
After the first 11 holes Highsmith was even, but he bogeyed the 12th and 14th holes. He then double-bogeyed No. 15 and No. 18. He shot a 40 and finished 5 over on the back nine.
Highsmith said he feels more confident about the second round.
“I made some stupid mistakes,” Highsmith said. “I know I can fix those tomorrow.”
Highsmith had family members watching him all day, including his grandfather, Warren Highsmith.
“It’s pretty cool to play in my hometown in front of everyone,” Joe Highsmith said. “It’s also pretty convenient.”
Last week, Highsmith qualified for the 2015 U.S. Junior Amateur Championship in Bluffton, South Carolina, after finishing first and shooting a 145 at the RMG Club in Spanaway.
The championship starts July 18, and Highsmith and his family plan on leaving July 16.
“We’ve never been,” Warren Highsmith said. “We’ll make a little vacation out of it.”
Joe Highsmith said he was excited to qualify and even more excited about the national tournament.
“My old friend, Chris Ming, caddied for me in Spanaway, so he’s coming to South Carolina to caddy,” Highsmith said. “That will be really fun.”
Highsmith is 15, but according to his grandfather, he’s been practicing his swing since he could walk.
“When there was golf on, he would stand in front of the TV and practice his swing,” Warren Highsmith said.
Joe Highsmith swings a golf club as a lefty, but is naturally right-handed, his grandfather said.
“He watched Phil Mickelson and said, ‘That’s who I want to be,’ ” Warren Highsmith said. “Ever since then, he’s always swung lefty.”
Joe Highsmith will tee off at 11 a.m. Wednesday for the second round of the ACDS and Ryan Moore championship.
Morgan Goldstein, from Las Vegas, secured the lead in the girls tournament, shooting an even-par 70.