James Clark had been dreaming for a long time of the day he would finally tee it up in the Southeastern Amateur. And Wednesday couldn't have gone much better.
The former Brookstone standout shot a 4-under-par 67 to tie for second place. He is tied with Shad Tuten and Bennett Baker.
"It was great," Clark said. "It was pretty cool to have my dad (Jim Clark) caddying for me.
"I tried to just play my game and be myself.
"It was a nice start, but we have a long way to go."
Clark is two shots behind the leader John Jonas of Jacksonville, Fla. Jonas' 6-under 65 matched the hot start that Tuten got off to last year. Tuten went on to lose to Grant Hirschman in a playoff for the 2014 title.
Hirschman opened defense of his title with an even-par 71.
Jonas made six birdies and no bogeys for his 65.
The scoring was exceptional in the first round as 49 golfers shot par or better with 36 breaking par.
Seven players shot 68s, while 17 shots 70s. Among those at 70 were local players Bobby Brent III, David James and Charlie Flowers.
Clark made five birdies (Nos. 2, 3, 11, 16 and 17) and one bogey (No. 5).
Clark, who won four team state titles and two individual state titles at Brookstone, was disappointed that he parred Nos. 1 and 4, both pars 5s.
"If you ask any golfer, they are always going to believe they left some shots on the course," Clark said. "But I hit the ball pretty solid. My putting was a little iffy."
Clark grew up playing the Country Club of Columbus course. He was scheduled to play in the Southeastern Amateur last year for the first time, but he dislocated his shoulder in a water-skiing accident.
Wednesday's 67 was just one off the best round he has played at CCC. He shot a 66 a couple of weeks ago.