Horsfield lives up to billing, humbles Knollwood

Writing from Lake Forest, Illinois

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Put 10 threes on your scorecard and you’ve had a fine day.

World No. 2 amateur Sam Horsfield did that on Tuesday and tied the course record at the leafy Knollwood Club in the first qualifying round of the 114th Western Amateur.

Horsfield, a lad from Birmingham, England who is entering his sophomore year at Florida after an all-America freshman campaign, used those threes – and nary a deuce – to post an 8-under-par 63 take the lead by three strokes entering Wednesday’s second round.

Eric Ricard, entering his senior year at Louisiana State, is second after his 5-under 66. Vincent Whaley of Georgia Tech and Won Jun Lee of South Korea is third at 4-under 67, followed by Arlington Heights native Doug Ghim of Texas and Michael Perras of Houston.

The object is to simply make the Sweet Sixteen for match play, which begins Friday after 72 holes of qualifying in three days. Thursday’s 36-hole grind will involve only the low 44 and those tied from the field of 156.

Horsfield’s 63, which matched the course record posted by Max Scodro a few years ago, also equaled Ghim’s score at Beverly two years ago for the lowest known single round in Western Amateur qualifying.

Normally a par 72 for the members, Knollwood is a par 71 this week, the sixth hole adjusted to a par 4 even at 504 yards. That made little matter to Horsfield, who made a 4 on the hole anyway. He had gone out in 5-under 31 on the back nine, including birdies on five of his last six holes, then birdied the par-4 first to stand 6-under through 10, and added birdies on the fifth and eighth holes to go with scintillating par saves on the seventh and ninth to finish with a bogey-free 63.

“I felt like I had been close for a while and to kind of put it together and shoot a good score felt really good,” Horsfield said. “All the right things clicked, and it was fun.”

It usually is when you hit 12 fairways, 17 greens and make almost everything you look at, including a six-footer to save par on the seventh.

“I hit it the best I’ve hit it in a while,” Horsfield said. “When you do that, youu will have some birdie opportunities. I hit three or four shots inside of two feet. That takes some of the stress off.”

Around Knollwood

Andrew Price of Lake Bluff, who won the CDGA Amateur last month, opened with 2-over 73. Todd Mitchell of Bloomington, whom Price defeated, scored 2-under 69, the best tally of the few mid-amateurs in the field, good for a tie for seventh. ... With a 1-under 70, Northbrook’s Nick Hardy won the laurel for low Illinois team member, beating Dylan Meyer (71) . Ohio State grad Tim “Tee-K” Kelly scored 3-over 74. ... Defender Dawson Armstrong, whose up-and-down for birdie on the par-5 eighth was among the better shots of the day, but blew up on the back nine for 5-over 36-40–76. ... A country and western singer / guitar player brought in for the player party started his post-round warbling promptly at 6 p.m., even though players were still finishing on both nines, including the nearby ninth green. “It’s now the Country and Western Amateur,” said one wag.

Tim Cronin

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