AVON - The No. 1 rule for golfers is this: Every round could have been better.
Every single one.
Now, finding a way to improve on the bogey-free, 8-under-par 64 Beau Titsworth shot in Tuesday's opening round of the Cleveland Junior Open at Red Tail Golf Club might not be easy. But it can be done.
Like, say, how about those putts that lipped out on the 14th and 18th holes?
Still, the Avon resident, St. Ignatius senior and Red Tail member wasn't complaining after he tied the tournament record for low round, set the opening-round record and came within a shot of his personal best at Red Tail.
The sizzling start gave Titsworth a five-shot lead in the three-day tournament. Mitchell Homb of Dixon, Ill., and P.J. Collier of Houston, Texas, are tied for second after 3-under 69s, while Will Seger of Jasper, Ind., is fourth after shooting 70.
If Titsworth's pursuers are expecting him to play it safe the rest of the way, they've got another thing coming.
"I'm looking to keep it going," said Titsworth, who tied for second in last year's tourney and finished second in the Division I high school state tournament. "I'd like to beat Patrick's score of 15 under."
Patrick is Patrick Rogers, who fired the tournament's previous 64 on the way to the abive-mentioned 15 under and the 2009 title.
One of Titsworth's few trouble holes might actually have been the turning point for him.
Though he made the turn at 3 under, he found himself in a tough situation on the 10th when his second shot found a bad lie in the bunker on the right side of the green.
Titsworth, however, nailed his bunker shot to within 18 inches of the hole and saved par.
"The ball was almost plugged," Titsworth said. "I haven't been hitting bunker shots very well lately so it really could have been trouble. But I got a nice shot out of the bunker and actually thought it might go in from there.
"But I'll take putting it to within a foot-and-a-half any day."
Titsworth proceeded to reel off birdies on his next three holes and go 5 under the rest of the way for a back-side 31.
Homb, the Illinois 2-A champion, isn't conceding Titsworth anything, though he also knows he has some work to do.
"I made the turn at 2 under and was looking to stay there at worst," said Homb, who attends Southern Indiana University Edwardsville. "Anything under par is always a good score but I have my work cut out for me. I like the greens and the layout, so we'll see what happens."
There was a good story on the girls side, too, as Mika Liu of Bradenton, Fla., shot a 71 to grab first place by a stroke over Jennifer Peng of San Diego. While the score itself might not seem noteworthy, it stands out since Liu, 12, is the youngest player in the field by two years.
The seventh-grader had five birdies, two bogeys and a double bogey in her first appearance at the tournament.
"I thought the course was pretty tricky at first," said Liu, who was born in Taiwan. "But then I got to know where to hit it."
Liu was even par before making double bogey on the ninth. If that hole wasn't enough to deal with, she also lost her towel, lunch box and broke her rake.
"I told myself to forget about it and move on," she said of the ninth hole.
From that point on, she was 3 under. She hit 8-iron on both back-nine par 3s, putting the ball within 7 feet on 12 and within 10 feet on 17 en route to birdies.
Despite being a typical 12-year-old who enjoys swimming, playing with her dogs and drawing, her desire to be the best is what drives her, according to her mother, Machi.
"She doesn't want to lose," Machi said. "She never wants to leave the course and will stay to practice until she gets it right."
Avon Lake's Nikolette Schroeder, who will be a freshman this fall, is the only local girl in the field, She shot an 85 to leave her 14 behind.
"It was a little bit of everything," said Schroeder of what went wrong. "I just couldn't get anything going. Hole 15 really sums up my day. I missed the green, three-putted and ended up with a double bogey.
"It just was not a good day."
The field has players from 12 states and six countries. Play resumes today at 7 a.m.
Contact Hans Schneider at 329-7135 or email@example.com.
Beau Titsworth, Avon, 64; Mitchell Homb, Dixon, Ill., 69; P.J. Collier, Houston, Texas, 69; Will Seger, Jasper, Ind., 70; Jake McBride, Hartville, 71; Eric Peng, San Diego, 72; Tom Nettles, McMurray, Pa., 73; Andrew Bieber, Shaker Heights, 73; Brendan Gramley, Sharon, Pa., 73; Benjamin DuCarne, McMuray, Pa., 73; Nicky Beunaventura, Weston, Mass., 74; Matt Kern, Springboro, 74.
Mika Liu, Bradenton, Fla., 71; Jennifer Peng, San Diego, 72; Brook Henderson, Smith Falls, Ontario, 73; Jessica Porvasnik, Hinckley, 73; Kari Belville, Granger, Ind., 74; Mary Fran Hillow, Orlando, Fla., 75; Catherin Peters, Clarence Center, N.Y., 75; Lauren Grogan, Columbus, 76; Maria Mancini, Poland, 76; Karishma Thiagaraj, Haymarket, Va., 77; Lauren Gros, Gainesville, Fla., 77; Kelly Grassel, Chesterton, Ind., 77.
LOCAL: Nikolette Schroeder, Avon Lake, 85.