Niebrugge among trio of Western Am leaders
ROLAND, Ark. – Three players shared the lead Wednesday at the halfway point of Western Amateur stroke play. Seth Reeves, who was tied with two others after an opening 65 at Alotian Club, along with Patrick Rodgers and Jordan Niebrugge sat atop the leaderboard at 9-under 135.
They held a two-stroke lead over Sean Dale (69-68), David Snyder (71-66), Michael Miller (69-68), Michael Weaver (69-68) and Robby Shelton IV (70-67).
Talor Gooch, Justin Thomas and Taylor Macdonald came in at 6-under 138.
Play was suspended because of rain, lightning and thunder at 5:03 p.m., but resumed at 6:20 p.m. That delay meant some players in the field were unable to finish their rounds before darkness. Those players completed the second round on Thursday morning before the field was cut to the low 44 players and ties at 1-under 143. Notable players missing the cut were Fred Haskins Award winner Michael Kim, Alabama senior Bobby Wyatt and defending U.S. Amateur champion Steven Fox.
Two more stroke-play rounds will be held, one each today and Friday, then the field will be cut to the low 16 scores for match play. The Round of 16 and quarterfinal round is scheduled for Saturday, and the semifinals and final match will be played Sunday. All matches are 18 holes.
Niebrugge followed his opening 66 with a 69 to put him among the leaders. Starting on the back nine, Niebrugge, who won the U.S. Amateur Public Links two weeks ago, bogeyed No. 12, but bounced back with birdies at Nos. 13, 17, 1 and 6.
Reeves, who was in a three-way tie for first after an opening 7-under 65, seemed to have everything under control early in the round. Starting on the back nine, the Georgia Tech senior made birdies at Nos. 11, 13, 16 and 17 to turn in 32, At 11 under, he held a two-shot lead, but he couldn’t keep that pace on his inward nine. Reeves made no birdies and notched bogeys at Nos. 3 and 9.
“I had a solid first nine, but just couldn’t get it going on my final nine,” said Reeves, who won the Southeastern Amateur earlier this summer and was a quarterfinalist at the Southern Amateur. “But I’m tied for the lead going into the last two (stroke-play) rounds, so I’m pretty happy with that.”
Rodgers followed his opening 67 with a 4-under 68, taking advantage of his length at the par 5s (he birdied three of the four). He opened with a birdie at No. 1, added another at the third and one at the eighth to turn in 33. He birdied No. 14 before making his lone bogey at the 16th and adding a final birdie at 17.
“I think the last two days, I’ve done a good job mentally,” said Rodgers a junior at Stanford who earlier this month was named to the U.S. Walker Cup team. “If you get on the wrong side of holes it can be punishing, but I’ve just been playing really smart.
“This is an awesome golf course and (the Western Amateur) is one of my favorite tournaments in amateur golf,” said Rodgers, who tied for 15th at the PGA Tour’s John Deere Classic. “I’m certainly happy with where I am here after two rounds.”
Snyder hanging tough
A week ago, David Snyder was on his way to winning the U.S. Teen World Championship at Pinehurst, N.C. This week, he’s mixing it up with the big boys, some of the world’s top amateurs.
One of the youngest players in the starting field of 156, the 15-year-old high school student from McAllen, Texas, is holding his own. That should come as little surprise.
Two weeks ago he qualified for the upcoming U.S. Amateur and earlier this summer became the first alternate after losing in a three-hole playoff for a spot in the U.S. Open sectional qualifier.
After two rounds at The Alotian Club, Snyder is showing he belongs with the best players. His second-round 6-under 66 (the best of the day), followed an opening 1-under 71 and shot him up the leaderboard.
Snyder made birdies at Nos. 2, 6, 8 and 9 to turn in 32, then added birdies at 12, 13 and 17. His lone bogey came at the fourth hole.
“It was a little wet in the morning,” Snyder said. “But the greens were faster and the course a little slower. You really have to be careful on the greens. Yesterday I played solid, just didn’t make many birdies. Today they went in which was really nice.”