Ralston grinds out 36-hole lead as cut falls at Western Am
Spencer Ralston (Georgia Athletics photo)
Spencer Ralston (Georgia Athletics photo)

NORTHFIELD, Ill. (Aug. 1, 2018) – A year ago, Spencer Ralston was on the outside looking in when the 36-hole cut fell at the Western Amateur. This year, he’s the pace-setter.

Ralston and the rest of the field at Sunset Ridge Golf Club still have 36 holes to qualify for the 16-man match-play bracket, but Ralston, for one, is looking decidedly different in his return to one of the top amateur events in the country. The University of Georgia junior shaved 23 shots from last year to this year. After opening with 8-under 63, Ralston followed with 5-under 66. At 13 under, he leads Collin Morikawa and Sam Stevens by two shots.

The miraculous thing about Ralston’s round is that he hit only one fairway but still managed to get eight birdies.

“I made a ton of putts,” he told the Western Golf Association in explanation. “That can make up for a lot. I’m really confident in my putter right now.”

Despite a two-shot lead, Ralston is certainly not guaranteed a match-play spot at this point – there’s too much golf still to play – but there’s no question he displayed a grit that should serve him well in that format.

“I know I’m a grinder, and that’s a good quality to have,” he said.

Morikawa, a Cal senior, tied the low round of the tournament with a bogey-free 63. Stevens, who just finished his senior season at Oklahoma State, shot 66.

“Really, everything was working for me,” Morikawa said. “I started off by hitting it well off the first tee and hitting it close for a birdie. I gave myself a lot of chances, and I took advantage of them. It was a good day.”

Morikawa is playing in his fifth Western Amateur and looking for his first trip to the Sweet 16. His best finish came last year when he tied for 23rd at Skokie Country Club in Glencoe, Ill.

“My goal out here is to win,” Morikawa said. “I will keep my foot on the pedal and make as many birdies as I can. At the end of the week, I want to be the last one standing, but I have to worry about tomorrow first and go from there.”

Two players with big victories already this summer also climbed the leaderboard in the second round. Pacific Coast Amateur champion Isaiah Salinda and Players Amateur champion John Augenstein rose to fourth. Salinda, a Stanford senior, had a 65 to reach 10 under and Augenstein, a Vanderbilt junior, had 68.

Three players returned from last year’s Sweet 16, but after 36 holes, only one of them remains. Min Woo Lee of Perth, Australia is in a tie for 10th at 8 under. Brad Dalke and Will Gordon missed the cut.

Results: Western Amateur
WinTXCole HammerHouston, TX150065-68-61-67=261
Runner-upMSDavis RileyHattiesburg, MS120066-68-63-72=269
SemifinalsNYBrandon WuScarsdale, NY90066-69-67-64=266
SemifinalsFLTyler StrafaciDavie, FL90066-68-66-67=267
QuarterfinalsGASpencer RalstonGainesville, GA70063-66-69-70=268

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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