Hidetoshi Yoshihara (UCLA Athletics photo)
Hundreds of miles from UCLA on Tuesday, Hidetoshi Yoshihara
showed a mastery of Midwest golf. The upcoming Bruin senior got around Point O’Woods Golf Course in Benton Harbor, Mich., without a bogey. His 6-under 64 gives him a slim one-shot cushion in the most packed amateur field of the summer so far.
Starting on the back nine, Yoshihara got his day going with three consecutive birdies from No. 13-15. He had three more birdies on the front at Nos. 2, 4 and 8, the last of which came off a 50-foot putt. It’s a blistering pace, but it has to be to end up on top of this leaderboard.
“I kept hitting fairways and greens and was aggressive when I could be,” he told the Western Golf Association.
Last summer, Yoshihara was in the conversation in a handful of events but never the man on top. He was runner-up at the California Amateur, top 10 at the Sahalee Players and Pacific Coast amateurs and made match play at the U.S. Amateur. He made every start with the UCLA team in his junior season.
After Wednesday’s round, three players are breathing down his neck. One of them is James Nicholas
, the Yale grade who seems to be everywhere this summer. Nicholas won the Ivy League individual title in the spring, then after receiving his degree in Biology (pre-med) in the spring, finished in the top 3 at the Sunnehanna, in the top 5 at the New York State Open and qualified for next month’s U.S. Amateur.
The aspiring photographer will be your new favorite Instagram follow
. He often takes pictures and videos on family vacations and edits them together for his social media channels.
Nicholas was also bogey-free after making a tricky par putt for 65 on his final hole, the ninth.
“It was a ticklish putt coming down the hill, and I knew I had to make it to go bogey-free, so it meant a little more,” Nicholas said. “My ability to scramble was the best part of my game.”
of Irvine, Calif., and Matthew McCarty
of Scottsdale, Ariz., are also on that number.
Defending champion Cole Hammer
had a 2-over 72 to start the tournament, which left him in a tie for 78th. His Texas teammate Pierceson Coody
, winner of the Trans-Miss Amateur earlier this month, got the low Longhorn award on Wednesday with a 4-under 66 that left him tied with a stout group of players: Daniel Wetterich
, a recent Ohio State grad; Ryan Hall
, an upcoming South Carolina sophomore; Peter Kuest
, a five-time winner at BYU this season, and Chun An Yu
, No. 1 in the Golfweek
Quotes and information from the Western Golf Association used in this report
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