PINEHURST, N.C. Robbie Fillmore, who never touched a club during two years away from golf, shot 5-under 65 on Tuesday to win the stroke-play portion of the U.S. Amateur.
The lowest score in two days of qualifying came on the No. 4 course at Pinehurst and followed Fillmore's opening 69 on Pinehurst No. 2, giving him a total of 6-under 134.
Fillmore leads the group of 64 players who will start the match-play portion today. The final two qualifiers will be determined in a playoff among 26 players who tied at 5-over 145.
A junior at BYU, Fillmore left golf behind during his Mormon mission to Chile but quickly made up for lost time when he returned in 2006. He went to the golf course about three hours after his plane landed in Salt Lake City.
"I got it back pretty quickly, but from sunup to sundown, I worked pretty hard at it," said Fillmore, a first-team All-Mountain West Conference player last season.
Fillmore finished two strokes better than first-round leader Wesley Bryan, an 18-year-old South Carolina freshman who shot 1-under 69 on Pinehurst No. 4.
"The goal was to make match play," Fillmore said. "To shoot 65, to do it makes it that much better. I feel really good about the way I've been playing."
Among those also moving on were top-ranked amateur Danny Lee (141), Kevin Tway (143) and Jamie Lovemark (143), runner-up at the North & South Amateur earlier this summer at Pinehurst and one of the top college golfers in the nation.
"I had some moments of greatness mixed in with some pretty awful shots," Lovemark said. "That was the hard part. I'm not saying that match play is easy, but I just feel more comfortable knowing I can take a deep breath and validate my game."
Brady Exber, a 52-year-old member of the Southern Nevada Golf Hall of Fame, was the oldest to advance. He made it through qualifying for the first time in his fourth U.S. Amateur, narrowly missing a hole-in-one on his final hole, the par-3 ninth at Pinehurst No. 2. His 7-iron caught the left lip of the hole and rolled a couple of feet past.