Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash. (June 12, 2012) -- Sean McMullen of Kent, Wash. fired an opening round 6-under-par 65 to take a two-shot lead in the 86th Washington State Men’s Amateur Championship, being held on the par-71 Eagles Pride Golf Course at Joint Base Lewis McChord. Only nine players broke par on the rain-softened 7,024 yard championship layout.
The championship, conducted by the Washington State Golf Association (WSGA), features the finest male amateur golfers in the state. Past champions include Fred Couples, Alex Prugh, Brock Mackenzie, Kermit Zarley, John Bodenhamer, and Pacific Northwest Golf Hall of Famers Al Mengert, Bud Ward, Jack Westland and Harry Givan.
McMullen, a graduate of Kentridge High School, just finished his freshman year at the University of Idaho, where he plays on the men’s golf team for the Vandals. His round began without much flare – he parred the reachable par-5 opening hole, then bogeyed the long par-4 third hole.
He went on to shoot a solid 2-under-par 34 on the front side, and then caught fire on the back side, recording six 3s on his way to a 4-under-par 31.
“My approach shots are what made the round,” said McMullen. “I don’t think I had a putt longer than eight feet on the back nine. I’ve played the course a few times before, so I knew where I could get aggressive and I stuck to my game plan.”
The course record at Eagles Pride is 64, shot in 1980 by Walter Morgan, who later became a three-time winner on the Champions Tour.
Tied for second at 4-under-par are Chris Williams, Mark Strickland and Nathan Strand. Williams, of Moscow, Idaho and who will be a senior next year on the men’s golf team at the University of Washington, is continuing his stellar play; he has previously represented the U.S. team in the Walker Cup and the Palmer Cup, is the defending champion at the Sahalee Players Championship and the Pacific Coast Amateur, and holds the record at the UW for individual victories; he also holds the course record at eight different golf courses. Strand, of Olympia, Wash., had a strong front nine, charging to 4-under-par after the first six holes, but cooled off on the back nine.
“I had many chances, but the putts stopped dropping,” he said. Strand eagled the sixth hole, a reachable par-5 with a risk-reward second shot over a pond. “I hit driver and 7-iron, and sunk the 30-footer for the eagle.” Past champion Jeremy Wendelken (2010) sits tied for 13th after an opening round of 72.