Photo courtesy of the USGA
, of Perth, Australia, played a bogey-free round to post 5-under 65 and sits alone atop the leaderboard after the first round at the 119th Western Amateur at Glen View (Ill.) Club on Tuesday.
The 19-year-old Vilips, who played at Stanford as a freshman, leads a group of seven players by one stroke. His five-birdie performance marked his return to the Western Amateur after missing last year’s event at Crooked Stick Golf Club in Carmel, Indiana, with a broken ring finger on his left hand.
It was late in the day when Vilips broke through to take the first-round lead. Vilips made two birdies on his outward nine, three more on the back and played steady golf over his last five holes to card a 5-under 65. After top-10 finishes at the North/South Amateur, Southern Amateur, and the Sunnehanna, Vilips, who made his Western Amateur debut when he was only 14 at Knollwood Club in nearby Lake Forest, Ill., looks poised to make a run for the George R. Thorne Trophy.
“I really like this event, and it was frustrating to not play last year,” Vilips said. “It’s always a great field, and I’m usually peaking around this time of year.”
Seven players are one back at 4-under 66, including Mason Nome
(Texas), David Ford
(North Carolina), Bryce Lewis
(Tennessee), John Marshall Butler (Auburn), Ollie Osborne
(SMU), Brian Stark
(Oklahoma State), and Parker Coody
(Texas), who all held a piece of the lead at sometime during the first round.
Ford carded seven birdies in his round and is aiming lower for Wednesday. “I’m striping my driver, hitting my irons great, but I need to get my putter going a little bit more,” said Ford. “If everything comes together tomorrow, I’ll be able to post a lower score.”
Parker Coody finished one shot better than his twin brother, and defending Western Amateur champion, Pierceson. The two will tee off just twenty minutes apart on Wednesday and it’s exciting to think of the matchup possibilities moving forward if both should continue to play well.
, the Australian Amateur champion who has had an exceptional summer on U.S. soil with victories at the North/South Amateur as well as the Dogwood Invitational, carded a 3-under 67 to put himself within striking distance.
After the second round of stroke play on Wednesday, the field will be cut to the low 44 players and ties. Those players will then play two stroke play rounds on Thursday to determine the low 16 players (with a playoff if necessary). Those making the "Sweet Sixteen" will play match play on Friday and Saturday. The champion will have played eight competitive rounds in five days.
Stay up to date on Western Amateur live scoring by going to thewesternamateur.com throughout the week. Friday and Saturday can be seen live on Golf Channel’s digital platforms.
The 8:40 AM grouping of Connor Schmidt, Nicolas Cassidy, and Evan Davis were assessed a “red card” for pace of play as they walked off of the 18th green. The trio met with scoring officials moments after and it was determined that the group would not be assessed a one stroke penalty. Particularly good news for Schmidt, who’s round of 67 (-3) was upheld, keeping him two shots off of the lead.
Kentucky Amateur winner John Marshall Butler of Auburn fired a round of 66 (-4). His caddie is his mom, Sandra. “My mom is one of the most positive people I know, so it’s hard to not have a good time out there when she’s on the bag,” said Butler.
Two former Western Junior champions are in the field. Piercen Hunt, of Hartland, Wisconsin/Canada, the 2019 winner, shot 69. William Mouw, of Chino, California, the 2017 winner, opened with 71.
Mouw is one of four Pepperdine players in the field who helped the Waves to the NCAA national title. Joey Vrzich, of La Jolla, California, shot 68; Joe Highsmith, of Lakewood, Washington, finished with 69; and Dylan Menante, of Carlsbad, California, carded 72.
Pierceson Coody, Hammer and Mouw reunited with 2021 U.S. Walker Cup teammates Ricky Castillo, of Yorba Linda, California, and Stewart Hagestad, of Newport Beach, California, at Glen View Club. Castillo and Hagestad both opened with 68s.
Coody and Castillo are two of 10 players in the 2021 field who made the Sweet 16 last year. Runner-up Rasmus Neergaared-Petersen, of Copenhagen, Denmark, started the tournament with 68.
Loyola (Illinois) junior Timmy Crawford, of Arlington, Heights, Illinois, shot 68 and fared the best of the seven players who qualified for the Western Amateur on Sunday at The Glen Club in Glenview, Illinois. Jon Neuheisel, of Scottsdale, Arizona, posted 69, and Jason Li, of Sewickley, Pennsylvania, finished with 70.
The Glen View Club has plenty of scenic views on the course, but the clubhouse holds a few slices of history. The Chick Evans Room, where media is stationed this week, is named after the legend of the game himself. On display you’ll find a replica of the U.S. Open Championship trophy from Evans’ win in 1916, an array of pictures with high profile individuals, and a letter from President Dwight D. Eisenhower regretfully postponing Evans’ invitation for a round of golf.
by Todd Mrowice, AmateurGolf.com
Western Golf Association contributed to this report