SKOKIE, Ill. (Wednesday, June 20) – Jeff Doty, of Carmel, Indiana, seized the lead Wednesday at the 101st Western Junior by shooting a 6-under 64 at the 6,793-yard, par-70 Evanston Golf Club to stand 7 under after 36 holes.
An incoming sophomore golfer at the University of North Florida, Doty started off strong with five birdies and no bogeys on his first nine holes.
“Putter was hot,” he said. “I hit the fat sides of greens and made probably a 100 feet of putts. After the turn, I took it one shot at a time.”
One back is last year’s runner-up and the No. 1 player in the AJGA Rolex Rankings, Karl Vilips, of Perth, Australia. The co-leader following the first round, Vilips, a Stanford commit, made his charge after driving the 322-yard, par-4 fifth hole — his 14th — that resulted in a two-putt birdie. Ensuing birdies at No. 6 and No. 8 landed him at 6 under and solo second.
But the best round of the day belonged to Will Thomson, of Naples, Florida.
The Texas verbal commit carded seven birdies and no bogeys on his way to a 63, which is the competitive course record on the Donald Ross design. Thomson missed only two fairways and one green in regulation.
“It was the best I’ve hit the ball in a tournament round in a while,” he said. “I didn’t sniff a bogey. I had a lot of birdie opportunities, and I knocked a few in to get on a roll.”
Thomson, who began the day at 2 over, now sits 5 under and two off the Doty’s lead in third place alone.
“I knew there was a good round out there for me,” Thomson said. “I just had to get a feel for the greens and keep hitting it well.”
The cut came at 2 over, and 44 players advanced to Thursday’s final 36 holes.
Brian Stark, of Kingsburg, California, Daniel Core, of Sorrento, Florida, and Cameron Frazier, of Cincinnati, Ohio, all are tied for fourth at 4 under.
Co-leader after the first round, Luke Armbrust, of Wheaton, Illinois, fell off the pace and is at 3 under. In all, 16 players are under par.
Jake Beber-Frankel experienced an unforgettable moment Wednesday when he aced the 202-yard, par-3 fourth hole with a 4-iron. Despite shooting 69, Beber-Frankel missed the cut at 5 over.
Trying to become the first player in 77 years to successfully defend his title, William Mouw, of Chino, California, is 2 under after rounds of 71-68.
- Matt Harness/WGA