By RON BALICKI
LAKE FOREST, Ill. – It looked like Kevin Tway might be in for a long day as he began his opening round Tuesday in the 107th Western Amateur Championship at Conway Farms Golf Club.
Starting on the back side, the incoming junior at Oklahoma State, where he was an honorable mention All-America last season, was 2-over par after three holes.
Tway didn’t get rattled. Instead, he told himself there were plenty of holes left to play to get things right.
Over the next 16 holes he made five birdies and an eagle against another bogey and finished the day with a 4-under 67 to share the first-round lead with Andrew Yun and Zach Barlow.
Yun’s round was a bit more steady with four birdies and no bogeys, while Barlow notched five birdies and a lone bogey on his final nine.
They held a one-shot lead over Luke Guthrie and Dan Woltman, winner this year of the Northeast Amateur. In with 69 were Brendan Gielow, who last week captured the Porter Cup, Andrea Pavan, Sihwan Kim and Scott Rowe.
“I hit it over the green and didn’t get up and down at 11 and three-putted 12,” said Tway, who qualified for the 2008 U.S. Open. “I just told myself to keep doing what I was doing and the putts would start falling and I’d be fine.”
Tway got things going with a birdie at No. 15 and then closed out the back side with birdies at 17 and 18. He made birdie at No. 1, but followed with a bogey at No. 2. The shot of the day came at the par-4 seventh, where he holed out his second shot for an eagle and then closed the round with a birdie at No. 9.
“At No. 7 I hit my drive in a divot,” he said. “I was 95 yards out and hit a gap wedge. I was just trying to get it on the green. When I heard people yelling I figured it came out pretty good.”
Yun, who will be a freshman at Stanford this fall, is continuing his outstanding play since coming off a rib injury that forced him to pull out of the Dogwood Invitational and Players Amateur this summer.
He finished fifth at the Pacific Coast Amateur and last week tied for second – losing in a playoff – at the Porter Cup.
“The greens were fast and firm and with the rough the way it is, this is a really tough golf course,” said Yun, a four-time AJGA All-American, including first-team twice. “There were some tough pins out there so you had to be patient. I was very consistent, hit a lot of fairways and greens and that’s what I think it takes out here.”
Yun made the turn in 1-under with a birdie at No. 7, then came home with birdies at 11, 12 and 18.
Barlow got it to 5 under at one point. Starting on the back nine, he birdied Nos. 11, 14 and 15. Then he sank a 20-foot putt for birdie at No. 2 and drained a 50-footer at No. 3. But he made bogey at No. 5 to leave him in the three-way tie.
“I did everything pretty well today,” said Barlow, a senior at Illinois, and 2008 Illinois State Amateur champion. “The main thing was I kept it out of the rough and you have to do that or you can make a big number.”
Guthrie, from Quincy, Ill., and an incoming sophomore at Illinois, got it to 6-under through 15 holes, but hit his tee shot in the high weeks at the 16th and made double bogey and then three-putted the par-3 17th for bogey to finish at 3-under 68.
“Overall, I played solid and made some putts,” Guthrie said. “Everything was pretty good, except for 16 and 17. I just need to shake off those two holes and come out tomorrow and play well again.”