Log Jam at Top After First Round of Stroke-Play Qualifying at 115th PNGA Men's Amateur
Even though Wine Valley Golf Club was stretched out to 7320 yards, many of the 168 players in the 115th Pacific Northwest Men’s Amateur had no problem in posting some low numbers in the first round of the championship’s stroke-play qualifying.
In today’s morning wave of play, several players in the international field took advantage of the benign weather and jumped on the board quickly. James Grierson of Australia had the early clubhouse lead. He played the back nine first, and immediately drained five birdies, making the turn at 5-under. Heading over to the front nine (his second nine of the day) was a little different, with the front nine, at 3817 yards, playing the more difficult of the two sides. Grierson did get it to 7-under after 14 holes, but bogeyed two of his last four holes to finish the day at 5-under 67.
After Grierson finished, Carl Yuan posted the round of the day, a 7-under par 65. Yuan, a rising sophomore at the University of Washington, earlier had made the cut in a European Tour event held in China (the Shenzhen International), and entered the UW as the No. 72-ranked amateur in the world. There were no bogeys on Yuan’s card today, and he blistered the front nine – arguably the most difficult of the two nines – with a 4-under par 32.
Joining Grierson with 67s is Harrison Murphy of McKinney, Tex. and Pete Griffith of Westlake Village, Calif.
Another young player to shoot 67 was Frank Garber of Kirkland, Wash. Garber is a sophomore on the University of Washington golf team, and was the 2013 PNGA Junior Boys’ Player of the Year. While in high school, he twice won the 3A state championship, and won the Washington Junior Golf Association state title four times.
Andrew Spilman, a rising sophomore at University of California-Riverside who played in the 2014 U.S. Junior, played in today’s afternoon round, posting a 4-under par 68.
Other Northwest players of note are Kevin Geniza of Corvallis, Ore., who shot a 3-under 69. Geniza recently won his third consecutive 5A Oregon High School Championship, and in the fall will attend the University of Oregon to play for the newly-crowned national champion Duck men’s golf team.
Li Wang of Sammamish, Wash. also shot a 69. Wang is a senior at Yale, where he is captain of the men’s golf team. Colten Kleis of Kirkland, Wash., a former standout at Bellevue College and Chico State, also shot a 69.
Thirty players broke par in today’s first round.
The second round of stroke-play qualifying will take place tomorrow, after which the field will be cut to the low 64 players who will be seeded into the single-elimination match-play bracket to determine the champion. Each match will be 18 holes, with the exception of the final match, which will be played over 36 holes on July 23.