CHICAGO, Ill. (June 22, 2011) -- Fifteen-year-old Connor Black of Katy, Texas, battled the wind and rough Wednesday to post a 1-over-par 72 and take the lead in the 2011 Western Junior at The Beverly Country Club.
Black, who started the day alone in second at 2 under, had a fast start Wednesday morning with a pair of early birdies. After struggling in the middle of his round, he birdied his final hole - the 413-yard, par 4 ninth - to move back below par for the championship at 1-under 141.
"The wind was tough, ridiculous at times," said Black, who finished third at last week's AJGA Footjoy Invitational in Greensboro, N.C. "It made it hard to keep the ball in the fairway, and when it went in the rough, it was hard to get it out. I hit one chip about a foot."
With steady winds of 15-20 miles per hour, gusting to 35, low scores were scarce Wednesday. That was good news for Black.
"With these conditions, if the wind keeps blowing, it will be hard for anyone to shoot under par, maybe 1 under but not much more," he said. "I feel like I could have had a little better score, but I'm happy with how I played. I grinded it out."
Black’s prediction held true throughout the day. No one except Black finished under par for the two days. Three players tied for second place at even par: Nick McLaughlin, 17, from New Castle, N.H.; Daniel Chian, 17, from Covina, Calif.; and Adam Wood, 15, from Zionsville, Ind.
"It's a fun course," Chian said. "There are a lot of tricks out there and you have to put your ball in the right spots, so you don't short side yourself. Usually I play municipal courses where the rough is only one or two inches. Here the rough is about four inches."
Black, a sophomore at Cinco Ranch High School in Katy, is one of the nation's top-ranked juniors. As a freshman this spring, he won seven of eight high school tournaments and was named the All-Greater Houston Area Boys Player of the Year.
First-round leader Taylor Moore, 17, Edmond, Okla., who fired a 5-under 66 on Tuesday, fell out of the top with a combined score of 2-over 144.
73 players made the 36 hole cut at 11-over-par 153. These 73 will advance to Thursday and Friday's final two rounds.
View results for Western Junior Golf Championship