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Thorbjornsen shares lead at Western Am setting course record
Courtesy of Western Golf Association
Courtesy of Western Golf Association

The only thing hotter than the temperature on the second day of the 119th Western Amateur were the scores being fired at Glen View (Ill.) Club on Wednesday.

With the temperature approaching 100 degrees with oppressive humidity, a barrage of rounds in the low and mid-60s made things interesting throughout the leaderboard as the field of 144 was cut to 46 players.

Heading into Thursday’s third round, Karl Vilips, of Perth Australia and Michael Thorbjornsen of Wellesley, Mass. share the lead at 10-under par 130.

What do these two competitors have in common? Answer: They are teammates at Stanford. What do they not have in common? Answer: The path each took to get to the top of the field. Vilips has been nothing but consistent and Thorbjornsen simply dominated his second round. So much so that his score of 62 set a new course record.

Vilips completed his second consecutive 5-under round of 65 which stood untouched for most of the day. The 19-year-old carded seven birdies on the day, none more impressive than his 3 on hole No. 18 (his 9th hole of the day). Vilips made short work of the 450-yard, par- 4 immediately after posting a double bogey on hole 17, his only blemish on his card.

“I didn’t hit it as good as yesterday, but I made more putts,” said Vilips. “Other than 17 it was a really solid day.”

Vilips looked as though he would flip one last birdie in on his finishing hole, however, an unlucky bounce off his tee shot left him stuck behind a tree and playing for safety on the par- 4 ninth.

Pairing together a late finish on Tuesday with an early start on Wednesday seemed to be the right formula for Vilips as he advanced to play 36 holes on Thursday.

“I was happy to get out early and get it done with, so I have the rest of the day to relax,” said Vilips. “For that first round tomorrow my mindset won’t change. It’s really just situational after that as far as where I stand, obviously the goal is “Sweet Sixteen” but nothing else really matters right now.”

Thorbjornsen knew that he needed a low number on Day 2 after his somewhat pedestrian round of 2-under 68 on Tuesday. That’s exactly what he got, and then some. The 19-year-old, who won the 113th Massachusetts Amateur earlier in July, dropped four birdies on each side and has a full head of steam heading into Thursday.

“Everything worked well,” said Thorbjornsen. “I didn’t miss many fairways with my driver and set myself up well for approach shots. I’ve been playing fine, and that continued [Wednesday]. Golf can be weird.”

Vilips and Thorbjornsen are both looking forward to their pairing together on Thursday. They’ve been friends for quite some time, having met while playing junior tournaments. In fact, Vilips caddied for Thorbjornsen last year as Michael reached the quarterfinals of the U.S. Amateur.

Tennessee junior Bryce Lewis, of Hendersonville, Tenn., sits alone in third at 8-under after shooting his second consecutive 66.

Only one stroke separates twin brothers Parker and Pierceson Coody who both carded rounds of 67 on Wednesday. Parker is at 7-under 133 and three shots off the lead while Pierceson, the defending Western Amateur champion, is four back at 6-under 134.

After Thursday’s 36-hole day the field will be cut to the low 16 players (with playoffs 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.

Notable

Just missing the 2-under cutline was 2019 Western Amateur champion, Garrett Rank. The Ontario, Canada native (and NHL referee) posted rounds of 69-70 to finish 1-under for the tournament.

Karl Vilips isn’t short of support while on the course. His caddie this week is his girlfriend, Erika Baker.

Three of the top 10 players in the World Amateur Golf Rankings remained alive after the first 36 holes. Joining No. 2 Pierceson Coody are No. 5 Ricky Castillo, of Yorba Linda, California, and No. 6 Cole Hammer, of Houston, Texas. Hammer is the 2018 Western Amateur winner, while Castillo has advanced to the semifinals the last two years.

Other notables who survived the cut are 2020 Western Amateur runner-up Rasmus Neergaard-Petersen, of Copenhagen, Denmark, and Walker Cup team member and former U.S. Mid-Amateur champion Stewart Hagestad, of Newport Beach, California.

The first nine (34.95) played marginally easier than the second (35.66). Holes 1-9 yielded 526 birdies compared to 449 on Nos. 10-18. The 505-yard, par-4 15th — a converted par-5 — has played the most difficult, averaging 4.47 strokes. The second nine also hosted the easiest hole, the 550-yard, par-5 13th, which averaged 4.67 strokes. That hole has produced nine of the 19 eagles this week.

Marco Steyn, of Cape Town, South Africa, led the field in eagles with two through 36 holes, but they weren’t enough to get him through to Thursday. He ended his tournament at 5 over.

None of the seven Sunday qualifiers made the cut. Jason Li, of Sewickley, Pennsylvania, had the best run, finishing at even par following rounds of 70-70.

by Todd Mrowice, AmateurGolf.com

Results: Western Amateur
WinnerMAMichael ThorbjornsenWellesley, MA150068-62-70-67=267
Runner-upALGordon SargentMountain Brook, AL120068-65-68-70=271
SemifinalsTXPierceson CoodyPlano, TX90067-67-64-70=268
SemifinalsOHAustin GreaserVandalia, OH90068-69-67-69=273
QuarterfinalsGADavid FordPeachtree Corners, GA70066-68-69-65=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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