Co-leader Collin Morikawa tees off while defending champ Dylan Meyer (left) looks on
GLENCOE, Illinois (August 1, 2017) -- The problem with being a celebrity athlete from another sport playing a major golf tournament is that all eyes are on you.
That's going to be true at this week's Ellie Mae Classic -- where all sorts of prop bets are being made on Steph Curry -- and it's the case at The Western Amateur, where the recently-retired Cowboy Tony Romo is in the field.
Related: Western Am Preview: Best Field of the Year Heads to Skokie
Romo drew a featured pairing that included 2016 U.S. Amateur runner-up Brad Dalke and mid-am Stewart Hagestad, who finished T13 at The Masters and qualified for the 2017 U.S. Open. But Romo's place in the Western field doesn't have the controversy of the Steph Curry exemption on the Nationwide Tour, which many argue takes a spot away from a deserving pro.
Romo has advanced through local qualifying in the U.S. Open and shot rounds in the 60s in major amateur events like the Azalea. But today, as Sean Martin from PGATour.com wrote, "Tony Romo scored two late touchdowns today. Unfortunately, he was on the golf course."
The legendary quarterback was going along alright until that point, but the 7-7 position cost him a round of 80 and a spot way down the leaderboard, where nobody would be looking if it wasn't for him being in the field.
In his group, Dalke was obviously anything but starstruck, posting a 4-under 67 to stand tied with 8 other players in second place. Among them is the youngest player in the field, Australian Karl Vilips, 15. Just over a week ago Vilips stunned everyone with his play at Country Club of North Carolina in Pinehurst as he posted a 15-under total in winning the Southern Amateur.
Hagestad posted a disappointing 77, but the 2016 U.S. Mid-Am champ is going to need a low round on Wednesday to make the 36-hole cut if he hopes to contend for the all important "Sweet Sixteen" who make match play.
Collin Morikawa, the Northeast Amateur champion from Cal Berkeley, posted seven birdies against two bogeys (including one at the last) in his round of 66 that ties him with Dawson Armstrong of Lipscomb Univ; Nick Voke of New Zealand (we've been looking for a breakout win from this solid player); Ruben Sondjaja of Australia and Stephen Franken of North Carolina.
“A lot of good things happened today, and I’ll use that for the rest of the week,” Morikawa told the WGA. “I left a few shots out there, but that’s golf. I was happy to give myself a lot of looks. Today was a really solid day.”
In a phone interview, Morikawa told us he enjoyed playing with Dawson Armstrong, especially when Armstrong got it going on the back nine.
"It's always nice to be paired with players who are playing well, and kind of feed off of that," he said.
Among the group, Sondjaja was bogey free, and Armstrong displayed the most firepower, posting 5-under 31 on the back nine with three birdies and an eagle after starting the day with a double-bogey.
“It feels really good to play a lot better golf than I did last year at Knollwood Club [in Lake Forest, Illinois],” said Armstrong. “I had a few thoughts of maybe having a run like last year where things just fell off the rails with the golf game. But I ended up rolling on in.”
Defending champion Dylan Meyer posted 1-over 72 and stands T66. With 63 of the top 100 players in the world in the field, he's going to need something in red numbers tomorrow.
Coverage will continue Wednesday as round two of the medal play portion of this marathon event continues and the 36-hole cut is made.
ABOUT THE Western Amateur
Invitational event, and the most important
tournament in American amateur golf outside of the
U.S. Amateur. With a grueling schedule, it's quite
hardest amateur tournament to win.
156 invited players come from across the
globe to play one of the toughest formats in
amateur golf. The tournament starts with 18
holes of stroke play on Tuesday and
Wednesday after which the field is cut to the
low 44 scores and ties. Thursday it's a long
day of 36 holes of stroke play to determine
the “Sweet Sixteen” who compete at Match
Play on Friday and Saturday (two matches
each day if you're going to the finals) to
decide the champion.
View Complete Tournament Information