Ancer takes second-round lead at Western Am

Abraham Ancer (file photo)

HIGHLAND PARK, Ill. – Abraham Ancer said he has been playing well this summer, though it hasn’t really shown in his results.

The reason, as the Oklahoma senior put it, is that “every tournament I’d have a few bad holes that would knock me out of it.”

That wasn’t the case Wednesday during the second round of the 110th Western Amateur at historic Exmoor Country Club.

With a four-birdie, zero-bogey round of 68, Ancer leads the field of 156 at the halfway point of the 72-hole stroke-play qualifying segment of the grueling golf marathon with a 7-under 137.

Ancer stands one shot better than first-round leader Curtis Thompson (67-71), Lorens Chan (70-68) and Chris Williams, whose second-round 66 matched the best round of the tournament.

Also posting a 66 was Australian Cameron Smith, who was tied for 87th after an opening 75, but now stands at 3-under 141.

In at 5-under 139 are Theodore Lederhausen (71), Alex Moon (71), Jordan Russell (70), and Peter Williamson (69), winner this summer of the North & South Amateur and Southern Amateur.

Ancer made birdie at the par-5 first hole and added three more, at Nos. 6, 7 and 11.

“Yesterday I struggled a little off the tee, but today it was much better,” Ancer said. “And then I hit my irons really well today, so I had a lot of confidence. I hit a lot of fairways and was able to go at the flag just about every time and give myself good looks for birdie.”

Thompson, on the other hand, found just seven fairways and had to grind all day.

He bogeyed the fourth hole, came back with birdies at Nos. 10, 11 and 14, but made bogey at the par-5 15th.

“I wasn’t on the golf course where I could give myself a chance to score,” said Thompson, a sophomore at LSU. “I was pretty much all over the place. So, for as bad as I hit it, 71 is a pretty good score.”

In his opening-round 67, Thompson, the older brother of LPGA standout Lexi and younger brother of PGA Tour pro Nicholas, played the par 5s in 3 under. He played those same four holes even par on Wednesday.

“The goal is the top 16 and get to match play,” Thompson said. “Then you go from there.”

Williams, a senior at Washington, had just seven pars in his round to go with nine birdies, a bogey and a double.

He charged out of the starting gate with birdies on the first three holes, only to bogey the fourth. He came back with birdies at 6 and 7, but a double bogey at the ninth cooled him down. Not for long, though, as he birdied No. 10 and then Nos. 15, 16 and 17.

“The last couple of months, I’ve been pretty tense when I’m playing,” said Williams, a first-team All-American last season. “I’ve been putting too much pressure on myself to play well, maybe being too hard on myself.

“Today I was a lot looser. I went out and said, ‘Just relax, play golf and whatever happens, happens. Just let it go.’ So to shoot this score today feels really good,” said Williams, who was qualifying medalist in last year’s Western Amateur at North Shore Country Club.

After Wednesday’s second round, the field was cut to the low 44 scores and ties. It took a score of even-par 144 to make the grade, with 15 players tying for 40th at that number.

Among the notables who are headed home are world top-5-ranked Bobby Wyatt and Patrick Rodgers, both at 145, this year’s Northeast Amateur champion Justin Shin (146) and recent Porter Cup winner Richy Werenski (151).

The 54 players remaining will play 36 holes Thursday, after which the field will be cut to 16 for match play.

The Sweet 16 and quarterfinal matches will take place Friday, with the semifinals and final set for Saturday. All matches are 18 holes.

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