HIGHLAND PARK, Illinois (July 31, 2012) - LSU sophomore Curtis Thompson shot a 5-under par 67 to take the first-round lead Tuesday at the 110th Western Amateur at Exmoor Country Club in Highland Park. Playing in his second Western Amateur, the 19-year-old from Coral Springs, Fla., shot 34-33 despite missing a three-foot par putt on No. 8, his second-to-last hole.
Four players shot 68 and were tied for second, including Theo Lederhausen of Hinsdale, Ill., who plays college golf at Harvard; Australia's Matt Stieger, Jace Long of Missouri, and recent Texas graduate Alex Moon of Dallas.
"It went well all day," said Thompson, who started on the back nine. "I took my shots when I had opportunities. I'm playing more of a 'feel' game now and I'm not so mechanical. I'm free swinging it now."
Moon, 22, said he changed putters before the tournament, which helped him eliminate his difficulties with three-putting. "I've been hitting it great all summer," Moon said. "The only thing different today was that three-putting wasn't the issue it has been all summer." Moon missed getting into the Sweet 16 last year by one stroke.
Lederhausen shot 34-34 to get to his 4-under total, saying he missed only one or two greens in regulation.
"I've never played Exmoor before [this week] but I'm used to Chicago golf courses," Lederhausen said. "It'd mean a lot to get to the Sweet 16...It would be a great confidence boost for me to see myself playing with the best players in the world."
Long, who plays for Missouri, shot 30 on the front nine, thanks to back-to-back eagles on Nos. 6 and 7. On the 518-yard, par 5 6th, he hit driver, 6-iron to 20 yards in front of the green and chipped in for eagle. On the 355-yard, par 4 7th, he blasted a driver down the fairway and hit a pitching wedge.
"It hit one foot behind the hole, spun back and fell in," Long said.
The winner of the Australian Amateur, Stieger, 21, of New South Wales, has had an outstanding summer. He finished T-4 at the Scottish Amateur and made it to the quarterfinals of the British Amateur and came in fifth at the Porter Cup earlier this month.
Stieger said winning the Western Amateur would be "massive if only just for the recognition and the invitations you'd get...it's the third biggest [amateur] event in the world. It is always played at great golf courses and the field is great."
Now in his third year of traveling in the U.S., Stieger said he feels more prepared than ever to win here.
"I just feel ready," he said. "More physically fit, in better shape...Just have to keep the bogeys off the card."