John Wright (CDGA photo)
There’s a crowd at the top of the Illinois Amateur leaderboard, and it doesn’t thin out much the farther down you go. Three men – David Perkins, Orion Yamat and John Wright – all opened with 4-under 68 at Cantigny Golf in Wheaton, Ill., on Tuesday.
The first two are collegians, who got plenty of practice throughout the spring season with Illinois State and Loyola University, respectively. Then there’s Wright, who at 51 is keeping up just fine.
“Any time I can compete against the top young guys in college, it's awesome,” Wright told the Chicago District Golf Association.
Wright began his day on the Lakeside Course, effectively the back nine for the event, and played the first four holes in 1-over par. After those first holes, something seemed to click for Wright as he strung together four straight birdies on Nos. 14-17 to position himself in a tie with the morning leaders before even making the turn.
A pair of birdies and a lone bogey on his back nine put Wright in a tie for the lead with two of those top young players he referred to.
“Everything worked well,” Wright said. “I was able to get it in the fairway, which had been a problem in my last few competitive rounds. My irons were solid and I just hit a lot of really good putts.”
Perkins, from East Peoria, said his round was just about consistency. He also won the 2018 CDGA Amateur Championship.
“I didn't really miss many shots; hit a lot of greens and a lot of fairways,” said Perkins, who will be a senior at Illinois State University. “With how the day was with no wind, I knew anything around par or under par was going to put me in a good spot.”
Yamat, who was the youngest competitor in the field when the state am was last played at Cantigny in 2014, made birdie on his second- to-last hole to threaten for the lowest round of the day before conceding the stroke on his 18th hole to also finish with a 4-under-par round.
“My game has changed tremendously,” the recent graduate of Loyola University said when asked how his game compared to when he played in the 2014 rendition of the event. “I remember when I played here before, I would be coming in with much longer clubs and had to hit driver all over the place.”
“It's definitely great to come back here. It's a nice full-circle type of thing.”
After the first round, 18 players were under par.
Quotes and information from the CGA used in this report
ABOUT THE Illinois State Amateur
Must be a resident of the state of Illinois and
through an 18-hole qualifier prior to the event.
is 72-holes of stroke play over three days. The low
after round 2 will advance to the 36-hole final day.
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