Will Zalatoris snags First Round Trans-Mississippi lead
Will Zalatoris <br>(Wake Forest Athletics Photo)</br>
Will Zalatoris
(Wake Forest Athletics Photo)

SAN FRANCISCO, CA (July 12, 2016) -- Wake Forest junior Will Zalatoris made the most of his homecoming in the first round of the 113th Trans-Mississippi Amateur Championship. He shot a sizzling 4-under 66 on Tuesday to lead a deep field at The Olympic Club’s Lake Course, one of the most celebrated golf courses in the country and home to five U.S. Opens.

Zalatoris, a 19-year-old who grew up in San Francisco and learned the game at nearby California Golf Club, moved with his family to Plano, Texas, when he was 9. Two summers ago, he went on a dominant tear when he won the 105th Texas Amateur, 111th Trans-Miss Championship and 2014 U.S. Junior Amateur in the span of five weeks. In May 2015, Zalatoris suffered a burst appendix days before he was scheduled to play in the PGA Tour’s AT&T Byron Nelson Championship on a sponsor’s exemption.

The 6-foot-2 Zalatoris lost nearly 20 pounds after the appendectomy; he bottomed out at 139 pounds. Now fully healthy and up to 170 pounds thanks to the training staff at Wake Forest, Zalatoris said he was excited to return to the Bay Area and play in the Trans- Miss Championship again.

“I love it here,” he said. “I’m still a Golden State Warriors fan, and I’m a Giants fan. It feels good to play a course I’m comfortable on. This place is really special.”

After two birdies and as many bogeys on the front nine of the hilly terrain of The Olympic Club, Zalatoris caught fire on the back nine. He birdied four consecutive holes, draining putts of 9, 6, 15 and 10 feet over holes 14-17. He hired a local caddie named Reiner Binsfeld, and Zalatoris gave him much of the credit for the day’s lowest score.

“He’s a stud reading the greens,” said Zalatoris, the 60th-ranked amateur in the world. “I was trying to read too much break a lot of the time and Reiner reigned me back in. Having that much course knowledge is really comforting.”

Zalatoris leads Oklahoma senior Max McGreevy, the 92nd-ranked amateur in the world, by one shot. A 2016 Third-Team All-American selection from Edmond, Okla., McGreevy cruised around the Lake Course without a single bogey, something no other player in the field managed. He posted 3-under 67.

“That probably was the best ball-striking performance I’ve ever had,” said McGreevy, who finished fifth at the 112th Trans-Miss Championship at Flint Hills National and eighth the year before that at Southern Hills Country Club. He only missed one green all day. “I didn’t have a par putt over a foot and a half.”

Four players are tied for third place at 2-under 68. KK Limbhasut from Berkeley, Calif., John Oda from Honolulu, Braden Bailey from Groves, Texas and Ruben Sondjaja from Ames, Iowa, are two shots off the lead headed into Wednesday’s second round.

The low mid-amateur (ages 25 and older) through one round is Brad Wilder from Fort Wright, Ky. He made four birdies on his way to a 1-over 71. There are 18 mid-amateurs in the field; at the conclusion of 72 holes, the low mid-amateur will be awarded a medal.

What began as a typical chilly San Francisco summer morning with overcast skies and temperatures in low 50s blossomed into a glorious afternoon. The sun pushed away the clouds at high noon and brought the mercury more comfortably into the mid-60s. Despite the sun splash, 8-10 mph winds with gusts up to 20, combined with the Lake Course’s time-tested narrow fairways, deep round and confounding greens proved to be a stiff challenge for the 144 players in the field.

The scoring average for the first round was 73.67. The 505-yard, par-4 first hole played the most difficult at an average of 4.65. Two holes played under par for the day: the 294-yard, par-4 seventh (3.79) and the 522-yard, par-5 17th (4.95).

Thirteen players finished under day in the first round. Only two came from the morning wave, when the temperatures were at their coldest. Brandon Bauman from Las Vegas and Andre Garcia from Mansfield, Texas, braved the brittle elements early to post 1-under 69s.

Home of two 18-hole courses and an Oceanside par-3 course, The Olympic Club’s original 18 holes were designed in 1927 by then-course superintendent Sam Whiting. The Lake Course is widely regarded as one of America’s best championship venues. In addition to the five U.S. Opens – most recently in 2012 won by Webb Simpson – the proud club has hosted three U.S. Amateurs, two PGA Tour Championships, the 2004 U.S. Junior Amateur and last year’s inaugural U.S. Four-Ball Championship. It recently was awarded the 2021 U.S. Women’s Open.

Past winners of the Trans-Miss Championship include the likes of Jack Nicklaus (twice), Ben Crenshaw, Deane Beaman and Mark Brooks. Current PGA Tour player Bryson DeChambeau won the Trans- Miss Amateur Championship in 2013. Last summer DeChambeau captured both the U.S. Amateur and NCAA Individual titles.

This week’s field is one of the strongest in Trans- Miss Championship history. Twenty-two of the top 200 players in the World Amateur Golf Rankings in the field, including World No. 1 Maverick McNealy, the 2015 NCAA National Player of the Year.

The second round begins Wednesday at 7:30 a.m. Following play, the field will be cut to the low 54 scores (and ties). The final 36 holes will be contested Thursday, at the end of which the 113th Trans-Miss Champion will be crowned.

Results For Trans-Mississippi Championship
1TXWill ZalatorisPlano, TX120066-65-74-69=274
2AustraliaRuben SondjajaAustralia90068-70-67-70=275
3ILDoug GhimArlington Heights, IL70071-67-69-71=278
T4FLMax GreysermanBoca Raton, FL70074-71-70-65=280
T4HIJohn OdaHonolulu, HI70068-69-77-66=280

View full results for Trans-Mississippi Championship

ABOUT THE Trans-Miss Championship

The Trans-Miss is one of the oldest and most storied golf tournaments in the United States. For 106 years the championship was played in a match play format. Past champions include Jack Nicklaus (1958 and 1959), Charles Coe (1947, 1949, 1952 and 1956), Deane Beman (1960), George Archer (1963), Ben Crenshaw (1972), Gary Koch (1973), Bob Tway (1978), Mark Brooks (1978) and other professional tour notables. In 1987 the championship was changed to a mid- amateur age requirement, and a senior division was also added. Starting in 2010, the Trans- Mississippi Championship, returned to its roots as an open amateur tournament, and immediately established itself as a "must-play" among top collegiate and mid-am players, while changing to a 72-hole stroke play format. The field size starts at 144 players from Trans- Mississippi Golf Association member clubs (or players receiving a special invitation from the Championship Committee). After 36 holes, a cut is made to the low 54 and ties who play the final two rounds.

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