GLENCOE, Illinois (August 3, 2010) - Blayne Barber of Lake City, Fla. fired a 4-under par 67 Tuesday to take a one-shot lead in the opening round of the 108th Western Amateur, presented by Callaway, at historic Skokie Country Club.
The 20-year-old junior from Auburn leads by a stroke over two-time Canadian Amateur champion Cam Burke of Eastern Michigan University, incoming USC freshman Jeffrey Kang, and Sweden’s Henrik Norlander, a member of Augusta State’s 2010 NCAA championship team.
Barber is ranked 15th in the Golfweek/amateurgolf.com Men's World Rankings.
Seven players at 2-under include Illinois senior Chris DeForest, Sihwan Kim and David Chung of Stanford, reigning NAIA champion Justin Lower of Ohio, and 2009 Western Amateur medalist Cheng-Tsung Pan of Taiwan.
Defending champion John Hahn shot an even par 71 despite missing several of what he called make-able birdie putts on the front nine. Meanwhile, the world’s No. 1 amateur, Jin Jeong of Korea, opened with a 4-over 75.
“It was a good, solid day,” Barber said. “I feel like I handled the course well. I love it. It’s a great course, tough but fair. It’s always nice to be in the lead.”
Playing in the afternoon wave, Barber started on the back nine and opened his round with birdies on Nos. 11 and 15 and an eagle on No. 13 to go 4-under par through his first six holes. He bogeyed the difficult 17th and 18th and made the turn 2-under 34 before adding birdies on Nos. 6 and 7 for a 33 on the front.
Included among a group of seven players at 1-under par are 1995 Northwestern graduate Scott Rowe, Illinois senior Luke Guthrie, 2010 U.S. Public Links champion Lion Kim from the University of Michigan, and former three-time U.S. Junior champion Philip Francis.
The morning wave of players teed off in a light but steady rain that lasted a little over an hour, drizzling just over an eighth of an inch of rain on the 7,091-yard Donald Ross layout. The moisture combined with high humidity and virtually no wind created ideal scoring conditions all day. Nevertheless only 17 of the 156 starters broke par.
“The first two holes it was raining but it wasn’t a big disadvantage,” said DeForest, one of seven Illini players competing in this year’s championship. “I just tried to keep a good attitude and keep going."
Chris Morris, a senior at Division III Centre College in Kentucky who also shot 2-under, said the greens were receptive but the difficult rough made it crucial to hit fairways off the tee. “There are really a lot of tough golf shots out there,” said Morris, whose father caddied for him.
Players representing 20 nations are represented in the elite field, which features 80 of the world’s top 300 amateurs.
This is Barber’s first Western Amateur. He said other players had spoken highly of the championship and recommended he play.
“This is one of the best amateur events in the world,” Barber said. “I’m honored to play.”