Western Amateur: Aussie Ruben Sondjaja leads at 12-under
02 Aug 2017
by Pete Wlodkowski of AmateurGolf.com

see also: View results for Western Amateur, Exmoor Country Club, Ruben Sondjaja Rankings

Western Amateur leader Ruben Sondjaja shot 64 today (WGA photo)
Western Amateur leader Ruben Sondjaja shot 64 today (WGA photo)

GLENCOE, Illinois (August 2, 2017) -- With the 36-hole cut being watched closely at the Western Amateur by many players, Iowa State teammates Ruben Sondjaja and Nick Voke are comfortably inside the top-10. If both play steady golf in Thursday’s 36 hole marathon, they could make match play, and potentially bracket up against each other.

That would be interesting, to say the least.

Voke, of New Zealand and his Australian teammate Sondjaja were longboarding together one 2014 day when they were both freshman when Voke’s life changed quickly – he hit a pothole and went down hard, suffering a broken collarbone. With a titanium plate in his chest and eight screws holding his damaged collarbone together, Voke fought a long road back to competitive golf. (See footer below for more on his comeback and the summer he’s having.)

After holding a share of the first round lead at 5-under 66, Voke shot 70 today to stand T9 with scores still coming in.

Western Am : Five players shoot 66 to tie for early lead
Western Am Preview: Best Field of the Year Heads to Skokie

Sondjaja, a consistent performer both at home, in college, and on the summer amateur circuit, started 2-under on his first nine today (the back) then went ballistic on the front, shooting 5-under 30 on the heels of a birdie on No. 1, an eagle on No. 3, and two more on Nos. 5 and 7 to come in with 7-under 64.

And check this out. Sondjaja also went low on the front nine yesterday, posting a 31 on his way to another bogey free round (he’s the only player in the field without a bogey). At 12-under, he’s leading the medal play portion tournament by a stroke at the halfway point.

“I’m hitting those percentage shots and not trying to force anything too much,” Sondjaja told the WGA. “This golf course is tough. If you sleep on it, it can bite you pretty quick. I just did a great job of keeping the ball in front of me and playing smart golf.”

The one person who matched him today, and who everyone should have their eyes on is Brad Dalke. After rounds of 67-64, Dalke stands at 11-under 131. The Oklahoma star sunk the winning putt for his team on national TV as they won the NCAA DI title on May 31. He also competed in the Masters (MC) as a result of his runner-up finish at the 2016 U.S. Amateur.

So it would seem unlikely that Dalke would be star struck by his pairing for the last two days – with none other than recently retired Dallas Cowboy Tony Romo. He wasn’t.

“It was fun,” Dalke said. “I idolized him when I was younger. It was cool to play with him in a tournament. He’s a great guy, too.”

With the kind of guts he displayed at the U.S. Am last year and at the NCAAs, Dalke could certainly boost his Walker Cup potential with a win or high finish at Skokie Country Club this week.

Unfortunately for Romo, his triple-triple finish yesterday (which led to an 80) took him back to third and long, and today he had too many bogeys and doubles on his way to an 82 that sends him home early, as the cut to the top 44 and ties looks to be falling at 2-under.

The round of the day was posted by John Pak of Scotch Plains, New Jersey. Pak did Sondjaja one better on the front nine, posting a 6-under 29 after starting on the back nine with a 34. Pak, one of the highest ranked AJGA players, has committed to attend Florida State. He's certainly showing his ability to compete at the collegiate level at the Western.

But tomorrow, lots of things can happen. With 36 holes of golf being played, anyone that survives today’s cut can work themselves up into the Sweet Sixteen.

Defending champ Dylan Meyer, who shot 72-71 and stands 1-over, will likely be on the outside thinking about the four bogeys he made each day. Nothing terrible in his rounds, but this is one of the best fields in amateur golf.


Nick Voke (AmateurGolf.com photo)

We have enjoyed covering him this summer during some of amateur golf’s biggest events in June and July, as we traveled the U.S. on our “One Epic Summer Tour.” We didn’t know his comeback story at the time, but he was always available with a smile (and that great New Zealand accent) for an interview or photo.

As for Voke’s 2017 at Iowa State just three years after that nearly golf-career ending injury -- he certainly played like a Cyclone, going low on more than one occasion.

At the NCAA Western Regional he won the individual title with a course record final round 61 at the University of Texas Golf Club and tournament total of 199. His tournament total of gave him a share of 3 of the top 4 individual 54-hole scoring records in Iowa State history.

This summer, Voke finished T3, and just a shot out of a playoff with stars Collin Morikawa and winner Braden Thornberry at the Sunnehanna Amateur. He opened with a tournament-leading 63 and eventually finished T8 at another "Major of Amateur Golf" -- the Northeast Amateur in Rhode Island, just a week later.

It takes lots of birdies to shoot course records and post rounds of 63 -- Voke won't be an easy customer in match play should he advance to the Sweet Sixteen after tomorrow's round.

Results: Western Amateur
WinCANorman XiongCanyon Lake, CA150072-67-66-65=270
Runner-upNCDoc RedmanRaleigh, NC120072-67-66-69=274
SemifinalsNYDerek BardNew Hartford, NY90072-68-68-67=275
SemifinalsCACameron ChampSacramento, CA90071-67-71-66=275
QuarterfinalsNew ZealandNick VokeNew Zealand70066-70-69-68=273

View full results for Western Amateur

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 possibly the 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.

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