Brown, Henry claim early lead at 2016 Western Junior


ROYAL OAK, Mich. (Tuesday, June 21) – Trevor Brown of Austin, Texas, and Cameron Henry of Los Gatos, California, took advantage of calm conditions Tuesday morning to claim a share of the lead after the opening round of the 99th Western Junior at Red Run Golf Club in Royal Oak, Michigan, in suburban Detroit.

Both shot 3-under par 69 on the 6,887-yard, tree-lined course. Six players shot 70 and are tied for third, and three others came in at 1-under 71, two off the pace.

Brown said his driver was working for him and that he used it on every hole but the four par 3s. His aggressive approach netted him seven birdies and four bogeys.

“That’s my game,” he said. “I won’t change that.”

Brown said his birdie putts were all in the 8-to-15-foot range. A string of three consecutive birdies (Nos. 13-15) placed a stamp on his round.

“I think I caught a break (with the morning round),” Brown said. “There’s a lot of get-able holes out there.”

Brown, who will attend Rice University in the fall, welcomed the traditional, tree-lined Red Run course, as opposed to the more wide-open courses in Texas.

He had a good senior season at Westlake High, placing third at the Southern Junior in Austin. In 2015, he won the Texas Junior Masters in San Antonio.

Henry’s round was even more adventurous but ended up sound enough to earn him a tie for the lead. He had an eagle, seven birdies, four bogeys and one double bogey on his card.

His eagle came on No. 1, his 10th hole, a 513-yard, par 5. He did not make a par on his final nine holes. Henry followed the eagle with a birdie, then went bogey-double bogey. A string of four consecutive birdies put him at 4-under, then he bogeyed the 536-yard, par-5 No. 9.

The 78 golfers who teed off in the afternoon played under quite different conditions, as the wind picked up, gusty at times, making the course play that much tougher.

Of the eight who shot 70 or better, seven had morning tee times. Only Jack Avrit, 17, of Arroyo Grande, California, was among that group who had an afternoon tee time.

Avrit, who will be a senior this fall at Arroyo Grande High, played in the final group. He got it to 4 under after his sand wedge from 60 yards bounced twice and hopped in for an eagle on the 549-yard, par 5 13th. He made birdie on the next hole to take a two-shot lead.

He gave back two shots on the short (366 yards) but tricky No. 15 as he hit his tee shot into the left rough and three-putted. He made par on Nos. 16 and 18, but a bogey at the par 3 17th dropped him to 2-under.

“It got gusty out there,” Avrit said. “You had to manage when you hit certain shots. I hit a knock down on No. 8 and made par (3). I tried that on 17, but a gust came up and I wasn’t sure. When I pick a club, I’ve got to commit to it.”

Despite his rollercoaster finish, Avrit likes his position. He’ll tee off at 9 a.m. when the wind normally is dormant, and he’ll have more opportunities to be aggressive.

“I wanted to be in it (after the first round),” he said. “I posted a good number. I putted well on the front nine. A couple of putts jumped on the back because of all the spike marks. That’s something you just have to accept.”

David Laskin of Elk Grove, California, opened with an eagle on No. 1 and got it to 5 under after consecutive birdies on Nos. 10 and 11. He played the final six holes 4 over and finished 1 under in a three-way tie for ninth.

A number of players had a difficult time navigating the final few holes. Edwin Kuang of Murrieta, California, was 1 under after 15 then made consecutive bogeys before missing a 3½-footer for birdie on No. 18 to finish 1 over.

The second round will be held Wednesday, with a 36-hole cut reducing the field of 156 to the low 44 scores and ties. The final two rounds are set for Thursday.

- Tom Markowski/WGA