The Jefferson, Md., golfer started his round under slightly overcast and damp conditions from Friday’s two-inch downpour. As the sun warmed things up, Ligi did also as he worked his way around Beaver Creek for a record-tying 5-under-par 67.
Little did Ligi, or anyone else, know that three hours later his 67 would not be good enough for the first-round lead.
Out of nowhere came 14-year-old Chris Navarro with a bogey-free, 6-under-par 66, a WACO record for the lowest opening-round score, beating the 67 initially established by Kenny Smith in 2002.
In third place was Alex Hoffman, of Middletown, Md., with a 2-under-par 70, leaving himself, Navarro and Ligi as the lone subpar shooters. They’ll be in the final round Sunday afternoon.
Two players — 2000 WACO champion Drew Forrester and Rob Cimarolli — were next at even-par 72.
With a front-nine 32 already under his buckle, Navarro knew he had something special going. And it was good enough to challenge Ligi at the top.
“I didn’t know until I saw the leaderboard at 18 from the 15th fairway where I stood,” said Navarro, who hails from Davidsonville, Md., and will be a sophomore at Archbishop Spalding High School. “I just didn’t want to blow up coming in. I got two birdies and just played lights out.”
Navarro’s game was all-around sharp, as he hit 10 of 14 fairways. His putter was working, as he drilled a 40-foot birdie on the third and a 30-footer on the sixth.
“I came in with the expectation of even par, maybe one under,” said Navarro. “I just wanted to play my game. This is a big accomplishment.”
Ligi, who was at home relaxing with his family in the early afternoon on Saturday, will get a late call Sunday. He won’t mind.
“I’ll get up and go to church with the family and then head off for some golf,” Ligi said of Sunday’s itinerary.
Back pain has kept Ligi off the course for most of the last three weeks.
“This (67) is not something I expected,” he said. “I haven’t played much, just at home with the family.”
Ligi said he had a good par-saving putt on the first hole and then followed with a birdie on the par-5 second. Additional birdies on Nos. 6 and 8 helped him to a front 33.
“Those birdies helped me get in the rhythm,” said Ligi.
Players can usually make up some ground on 13 through 15, but Ligi went one over. Then he finished two under on the final three holes for his 67.
Hoffman, who will soon head for Memphis University, had only one bogey — on the par-4 18th — on a card that was otherwise clean with three birdies.
“I didn’t play that well, but scored well,” said Hoffman.
Following the completion of the first round, players were placed into the Championship, Second, Third and Fourth flights. Full field scores from Saturday appear on page B4. Tee times are available on the Beaver Creek website at beavercreekcc.com.