Sugar Grove, Illinois (August 4, 2015)
 – Two 19-year-olds tied the competitive course record Tuesday at Rich Harvest Farms when they shot 5-under par 67s in the opening round of the 113th Western Amateur in Sugar Grove, Illinois.

On a perfect, high-sky, low-wind, summer day, Dawson Armstrong, of Nashville, and Jose Mendez, of Costa Rica, tied the course record held jointly by Michael Thompson (2007), Corey Conners (2012) and Greg Eason (2013).

Jose Mendez during the first round of the 2015 Western Amateur at Rich Harvest Farms

“Today was target golf and it worked,” said Armstrong, a sophomore at Lipscomb University, a Division I school in Nashville. “I really didn’t hit it that great, just played steady golf, kept it in play. I knew where to miss it today, and I missed it in the right spots.”

Mendez, a junior at Minnesota, where he was All-Big Ten in 2015, also shot 5-under despite a bogey on his opening hole.

“I felt really good out there today, really comfortable,” Mendez said. “I started off with a bogey on the first hole. Hit a good shot but just got a bad bounce. I adjusted quickly and just got back to my game plan.”


Theo Humphrey, 19, sophomore at Vanderbilt; Will Starke, a 21-year-old junior from South Carolina, and Taylor Funk, a 19-year-old sophomore at Texas, were a shot out of the lead at 4-under. Humphrey’s round was a bogey-free, four-birdie affair, while Starke made eight birdies and four bogeys in his whiplash tour of Rich Harvest Farms. Funk had five birdies and a bogey.

Humphrey called his play “nothing special, but it was a good, solid round.”

In contrast, “I was all over the place,” Starke said. “I made my fair share of mistakes, got a few good breaks and hit a lot of really good shots. I’ve been working a lot on my mental game, and I think that helped.”
Starke hit the flagstick with his tee shot on the par 3 eighth, but the ball ricocheted 20 feet from the hole, and he three-putted. Nevertheless, Starke went on to birdie both 17 and 18 to shoot 68.

Funk, the son of PGA TOUR veteran Fred Funk, recently won the Southern Amateur.

With most of the biggest names in amateur golf in the 156-man field, the tournament attracted Walker Cup captain John “Spider” Miller, who was evaluating potential team members.

“This is an excellent field, arguably the best amateur field of the year so far,” Miller said. “I’m here scouting.”

By now, the USGA normally would have announced at least a few members of the team, but depth has been the theme of this year’s amateur season.

“We’re going to announce more than half the [10-man] team next week.

It’s a difficult task to pick the 10 best players in the country when there are so many good players,” Miller said. “We’re trying to get in as much golf as we can.” The Walker Cup will be played Sept. 10-13 at Royal Lytham & St. Anne’s in England.

Gavin Hall and Charlie Danielson, who play for Texas and Illinois, respectively, both shot 2-under and are in a group of five tied for seventh place.

Defending champion Beau Hossler finished at 1-over par, as did one of his playing partners, Big Ten Freshman of the Year Nick Hardy, of Illinois. The third player in that formidable threesome, 2013 Western Amateur champion Jordan Niebrugge, shot 1-under 71.

Joining Niebrugge at 1-under were two other highly-ranked players, Robby Shelton and Matthew NeSmith. Daniel Stringfellow, a Chicago area native who plays at Auburn, also finished at 1-under.

Among those at even par were Iowa’s Raymond Knoll of Naperville, Illinois; 2013 Sweet 16 qualifier David Snyder, 17, and Adam Wood, 2012 Western Junior champion.

In addition to Hossler and Hardy, others at 1-over include reigning U.S. Amateur champion Gunn Yang; Australian Lucas Herbert, a 2014 Sweet 16 qualifier, and Tee-k Kelly, a Chicago area product who plays for Ohio State.

Needing a good round on Wednesday to make the cut are a group of prominent players at 2-over, including several ranked among the world’s top 20 by Scratch Players: Hunter Stewart, Scottie Scheffler, Denny McCarthy, Bryson DeChambeau and Jack Maguire.

On Wednesday, the field will play 18 more holes after which the number of contestants will be cut to the low 44 and ties. The survivors will play 36 holes on Thursday when the field will be reduced to 16 for match play, which commences on Friday and concludes on Saturday afternoon.