|Wednesday, July 19, 2017 - |
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HOMEWOOD, Ill. - Like rush hour on the Tri-State Tollway, which whizzes past several of the Championship’s holes, the leaderboard of the 87th Illinois State Amateur Championship is a traffic jam, with a few speeding to the front. Patrick Flavin (Highwood) and Trent Wallace (Joliet), playing in back-to-back afternoon groups, posted matching 7-under par 63s to share the opening round lead.
Flavin, who has finished sixth in each of the last two Illinois State Amateurs, started his round with five consecutive birdies and kept on cruising, putting eight birdies against a single bogey at the 11th. Meanwhile, in the group behind Flavin, Wallace, who finished fifth last year and was playing his first round at Calumet Country Club, carded seven birdies, including four of the final six holes.
“I hit a bunch of good shots at the start, got comfortable fast and made a bunch of putts,” Flavin, who is entering his senior season at Miami University, said of his opening stretch. “I was giving myself lots of chances and fortunately I got them all to go in. It calmed the nerves real quick, it was great to get off to a good start.”
“I kept the ball in play all round, kept it below the hole—which you need to do out here—and just trusted the putter,” Wallace, a rising junior at Illinois State University, said. “When I got (to the course), my teammate had just come in at a 65, so I thought that was pretty low, and then I got out there and the greens were perfect, so I just tried to take it as low as possible.”
Two shots off the lead in third is Zach Burry (Quincy), who shot an opening round 65 on Tuesday morning, which like his collegiate teammate Wallace, included birdies at four of the final six holes.
“The weather is too good not to play well,” Burry, a rising senior at Illinois State University, said. “I think the scores are going to be lower like they were last year, probably not as low.”
Mid-amateurs Derek Meinhart (Mattoon) and Todd Mitchell (Bloomington) are lurking just three back of the leaders after carding 4-under 66s. Meinhart, who hit the first tee shot of the day off the first tee, planted his name at the top of the leaderboard throughout most of the morning, getting as low as 5-under through 13 holes before finishing at -4. Mitchell, a two-time Illinois State Amateur champ, stacked an eagle and three birdies against a single bogey at the par-5 13th to finish at -4.
Other past champions Quinlan Prchal (Glenview) and Raymond Knoll (Naperville) both shot 2-under 68, sitting in a group of nine players tied for seventh. A total of 34 golfers shot even par or better on the 6,619-yard course, which was reduced to a par-70 from the par-71 layout the southside Donald Ross design’s members typically play.
With so many within striking distance, the contenders know there will be no relaxing over the final 54 holes.
“You have to keep it going,” Flavin added. “Last year, I learned you have to keep the pedal to the metal because there’s a ton of really good players here. I’ve got to keep the pedal to the metal and focus on myself.”
The 87th Illinois State Amateur Championship continues Wednesday at Calumet Country Club, with the second round teeing off at 7:30 a.m. Flavin and Wallace will be in the morning wave on Wednesday, with Flavin off at 8 a.m. and Wallace in the group behind at 8:10 a.m., both off the 10th tee. After Wednesday’s second round, the field will be cut to the low 35 and ties for Thursday’s 36-hole final day.